I somehow keep finding myself in Downtown Santa Ana when I want to go out for drinks with friends. It really has everything and is improving in leaps and bounds. I can park my car and grab drinks at Native Son then hop across the street to the Playground for dinner and a few more drinks, or possibly visit one of the several fantastic restaurants within walking distance. One of those “several” restaurants is The Copper Door who has been around for a while but never really had an alluring food menu, until recently.
The Copper Door is a truly unique place. It’s one of the only underground bars in Orange County and boasts an impressive 30-foot center table, 28 rotating taps, three billiard tables and a stage where they support the local music scene. I had been to the Copper Door a few times a long time ago, when they were under different management, but they have always had a decent selection of beer available. They used to be primarily a Belgian-beer bar with a few surprises and now they have a eclectic mix of approachable hyper local craft beers mixed in with unexpected and uncommon offerings. For example, they have a B. Nektar mead on tap which is so original it blows my mind. How cool is that? Bars are pouring mead now!
I was invited to come and try the new menu and sample some of their beers. What intrigued me the most was the fact that the menu was mainly small plates and everything was at and under $10. Seriously, no joke. You can get sandwiches for between $6-8, burgers between $6-8, sliders are 2 for $5 and 5 for $10, flatbreads between $5-8. We tasted several items and I will give you my honest opinion and go through each item.
Framboise and Port Wine Swiss Fondue: Framboise beer simmered with mint and tarragon and blended with port wine swiss cheese. I didn’t care for this at all. The thought behind it was good, I like the idea of incorporating framboise beer with a fondue dip but the texture was off-putting and grainy and the flavor was a strange combination of not savory enough and not sweet enough.
Stout Beer Cheese Fondue: Mole stout beer simmered with fresh garlic, rosemary and sage and blended with sharp cheddar cheese. This fondue was very tasty, even if it reminded me of a cheese beer soup a little. It was very delicious with the dipping items of steak and chicken and bread. Very comforting and filling.
Olive Tapenade and Bruschetta: The tapenade was chopped black olives with dijon mustard, stone ground mustard, capers, garlic, sage, rosemary, and red pepper while the bruschetta had roma tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and lemon juice. Both were delicious and I don’t even like olives or olive tapenade. I could probably eat that bruchetta by the bowl. The olive tapenade was briney and salty with a bitter aftertaste and the bruschetta was really fresh and had great texture while being light and bright.
Salmon Tartare: Smoked salmon, olive oil, capers, dijon mustard, whole grain mustard and dill on a cracker. My notes read: Seriously wonderful. It was light, not fishy, crunchy and soft, very satisfying.
Filet Mignon Crostini: Herbed chevre cheese with filet mignon, horseradish sour cream and balsamic glaze. I didn’t know steak could be that tender. It was perfectly seasoned and very easy to eat. I bit right through that steak with no drag or pull. It was divine.
We had a plate of sliders which consisted of the Alligator Blues Slider, Caprese Sliver and a “BLT” salad cup. The alligator was an alligator sausage with pepers, onion, aioli and blue cheese on a ciabatta roll. It was good, a little on the dry side, but had interesting flavor. The caprese slider was fresh and tasty as one would expect a slider of basil, mozzarella, tomato and balsamic glaze on a ciabatta roll would be. The star was the BLT salad to my surprise. It was a bacon cup with a fully dressed salad in the cup with baby tomatoes. The cup didn’t discinigrate when you picked it up and bit into it, and the salad didn’t go everywhere. It was facinating how well executed it was and super yummy! We all chatted excitedly about how much we loved it.
Lastly we had the Candied Walnut Crostini: Sweet cinnamon cream cheese, candied walnuts and balsamic glaze on a toasted piece of bread. It was the great end to a wonderful meal. It reminded me of a sticky bun and it was very well balanced, not overly sweet. So good.
Chef Ben and company are helping bring interest back to the Copper Door and I personally can’t wait to go back. See ya there!