Newport Beach, CA
I understand that ??Blue Coral? is relatively new to the scene, so of course some ??growing pains? are to be expected as the management works through the kinks of finding the right food suppliers and wait staff. That said? if Blue Coral expects to compete with the likes of Gulfstream (an already established local favorite, and less than a mile away), they have their work cut out for them.
Dcor: I sat on the patio, which was nice enough corporate way. However, once the sun set, Fashion Island (mall) turned on the parking lot lights, and because the patio doesn??t have any tall trees or full shading devises, the entire patio was lit up like a Friday night football game. The actual seating was pretty comfortable??lots of big fluffy pillows and modern wicker furniture. They also allow patrons to control the fire levels in the pits, which can be good or bad depending on who sits next to you. I only passed through the indoor restaurant, but it looked pretty nice. The bathrooms were clean, and they provided scope, nicer quality soap and paper towels. I particularly liked the makeup mirror.
Food: I ordered the shrimp cocktail which came on ice with four improbably large shrimp, a half a lemon, and cocktail sauce. The cocktail sauce was distractingly spicy. It may be a matter of personal preference, but I prefer my cocktail sauce to be tangy, not heartburn inducing. It almost felt like they were trying to mask poor quality seafood, which was weird because the shrimp, despite its massive size, was pretty tasty.
The manager ended up sending us a free order of their self-proclaimed ??best crab cakes in the world?. It did not, unfortunately, live up to the claim. We ended up not even being able to eat it because it tasted like it was not fresh. Is there anything worse than rotten seafood? I??ve been told that some of the other items are pretty good, but the crab cakes turned me off enough that I wasn??t willing to take the risk.
Drinks: I had a vodka tonic that was more tonic than anything. My friend had one of their signature cocktails which was so weak that we actually had to double check to see if it was supposed to be virgin (it wasn??t). For $11, it doesn??t seem unreasonable to expect a decent pour.
Service: I dine out several times a week, at all sorts of restaurants, and the service I received last night was the worst in recent memory. Despite the restaurant operating at 50% capacity, we waited over 15 minutes for our first round of drinks??and even then, we only got them because the manager took care of it personally. Our waitress was rude, insolent, and unapologetic about the delay. When my friend warned a couple that came to sit near us that the service on the patio was slow, the waitress actually yelled at her. She did the same thing to a woman who was sitting near our seats who asked where her drink was (apparently she had been waiting 20 minutes for a glass of wine). We talked to one of the managers who was making rounds, and he assured us that the first round of drinks would be comped and that he would send us an order of crab cakes (see above). When we wanted to leave, our check was nowhere to be found??a second manager explained that one of their bartenders hadn??t shown up and that??s why everything was slow. She apologized for the staff??s rudeness and explained that everyone was ??really tired?. Like I said above, I??m sensitive to the fact that the Blue Coral is a new restaurant and that it often takes time to get up and running properly, and I??m willing to forgive delay. What I??m not willing to do however, is pay $11 for a drink, $16 for a shrimp cocktail for an experience that mirrors a visit to a truckstop diner on the Jersey turnpike.
I will not be returning anytime soon.