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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Macy's Culinary Council Signature Kitchen/Cat Cora's Que/Marc Samuelsson's Burger/La Brea Bakery - Costa Mesa

Macy's Home Store South Coast Plaza
Level One
333 Bear Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

714-708-3333 x3601

For months I have been waiting for this place to open. Every time I went to south Coast Plaza I would walk through the Macy's home store to see if it had opened yet. The construction wall just teased me with the promise of a CCQ-Cat Cora's Que, Marc Samuelsson's Burger and Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery all as part of one restaurant. I waited and waited. I was most excited about Cat Cora's Que. The sign said that it would be Cat Cora's take on traditional barbecue foods. I recently heard that my wait was finally over. I decided to head on down there for lunch with J.

As I walked into Macy's I was greeted by a large, bright space that housed these eating establishments. Large posters and signs with the faces of Cat Cora, Mark Sammuelson and Nancy Silverton were everywhere. The entrance to the restaurant also sported large menu boards that were categorized by each restaurant.

My eyes quickly went to the Cat Cora's Que menu. I immediately decided on the CCQ platter ($11.95) with the "Low and Slow" Brisket as my meat choice. J was in the mood for a burger so she chose off the Marc Sammuelson's burger menu. J went with the Classic Burger with white cheddar cheese ($8.50). We went up the the counter and ordered our meals. I was told that my meal came with a madeleine and I had my choice of cheddar and scallion or blue corn jalapeno. I decided to get the cheddar scallion and I also ordered an extra side of three blue corn jalapeno madeleines ($1.95).

We were given a number and we went and found a table. The unique thing about Cat Cora's Que is that you pick your meat and you then have your choice of eight different sauces that you can put on top. The sauces were Mississippi Mop, Southern Red, Asian Hoisin, Green Gaucho, Carolina Mustard, Mediterranean Fennel, Ancho-Apple and Spicy Orange Peel. I strolled up to the bar with the serve yourself sauces and noticed that the sauces were all in plastic bottles buried in ice. This just didn't make sense to me. Why would anyone want to pour ice cold sauce on to their hot food? Wouldn't that just make their food instantly ice cold? I asked the guy behind the counter if they could heat some of the sauce up for me. He said he was happy to do so. I asked him to heat up some of the Mississippi Mop and some of the Southern Red. After he walked away, I decided to also serve myself a small portion of the Green Gaucho sauce. I didn't want to be a pain, so I didn't ask him to heat it up for me.

Our food arrived after about a ten minute wait. I looked at my plate and was a little surprised. This did definitely look different than traditional barbecue. On my plate I received two thin slices of brisket that kind of resembled bacon. It appears that they slice the brisket and then possibly pan fry it or something because it was all crispy on the outside. I was really hoping that for $12.00 I was going to get more meat than the two thin slices I received. The meat was served with barbecue beans that were made with kidney, pinto and mostly garbanzo beans as well as a vegetable slaw. The meat wasn't horrible, but I wouldn't exactly classify it as good either. It wasn't too tender and was a little dry. The mississippi mop sauce tasted just like tomato soup to me. The southern red sauce tasted almost like straight vinegar with a slight hint of tomato. The green gaucho sauce smelled fantastic. It smelled like a freshly made pesto sauce. Unfortunately, it tasted like nothing. I got up and went to go get a side of the Carolina mustard sauce and some barbecue sauce that was supposed to be for the people with burgers. The carolina mustard sauce tasted like watery hot mustard sauce from McDonalds with a little vinegar. The third barbecue sauce probably had the least amount of flavor of all. I finally gave up and ate the last few bites of my meat plain. The beans were made with molasses and were really sweet. I didn't like them at all. The vegetable slaw was just blah. Both the cheddar scallion and corn jalapeno madeleines also tasted like nothing. J sampled all my sauces, the beans, the slaw and the madeleines as well. She didn't like any of it either.

J said that her burger was pretty good. She said that it was about on par with a Red Robin burger or similar. She did say that the burger was really well done though so if you like your burgers with a little pink in them, you should ask when you order if they can do that for you. She really liked the french fries that came with her burger. I tried them and thought they were really good as well.

To say that I was disappointed with my food here would be a huge understatement. After this experience, I don't think I can ever bring myself to try anything from Cat Cora's Que ever again. I will most likely return to Macy's Signature Kitchen but I will stick to Marc Samuelsson's burgers or La Brea Bakery.

Signature Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Captain said...

I don't know about you, but I don't want to see kidney beans and garbanzos in BBQ beans. I just can't get my head around that.

Griffin said...

I agree Captain. I might have been able to deal with the kidney beans, but the garbanzo beans were just too weird.