Thursday, December 20, 2012

Designer Dining // Cucina Enoteca

I just discovered my heart's soulmate in a restaurant and it was love at first site. I wasn't even looking for it and it totally caught me by surprise. If I had given it any thought, I would have said that I leaned more toward a sleek and sexy, modern restaurant aesthetic and not the colorful bohemia I fell hard for the minute I approached it's doorway.

Urban Kitchen Group's latest installment, Cucina Enoteca in Irvine, California is among one of the most visually interesting restaurant spaces I've ever seen. I walked in and found myself stuck behind a line of people waiting to check in at the front desk. But I couldn't contain my anticipation. I bolted right past them, anxious to take in all of the artful design details in this space. Imagine if Etsy, Jonathan Adler and Anthropologie had a baby. This is what it would look like. 

But perhaps the restaurant's own website describes their design plan best:

See for yourself:
Antler chandeliers over communal dining table. The orange wired barstools had me transfixed.
The lighting across the entire restaurant is arts and crafts industrial at it's best. Reclaimed wood paneling marries harmoniously with bohemian patterned wall coverings in the background.
The communal wine bar in the restaurant lobby. Signage everywhere encourages you to pick up a bottle and hold it in your hand. Genius marketing. Half the battle is already won. Rumor has it the wine is reasonably priced (and only an $8 corkage fee for wines bought in house). A good restaurant wants you to enjoy your entire food experience and from my perspective, wine is always an integral part of that.
The beautiful bar- perhaps the most "modern" aspect of the restaurant. On the day I visited, bar garnishes were piled high in jars of all shapes and sizes, a functionally thoughtful detail I noted right away.
There is quite a wine selection to peruse while waiting for your table. 
The mood is set by this colorful patio as you walk up to the restaurant. Straight out of the Anthropologie design book.
The poster-laden walkway to the restroom. It made me want to act like a kid and plan many, many trips to the restroom just to see what it looks like. 
The food is straight up artisan cooking with locally sourced, organic and sustainable products. My lunch plate that day consisted of a stuffed squash blossoms and a porchetta and brie sandwich with arugula, truffle oil and wildflower honey, which blissfully melted together with each bite.  The dinner menu is comprised of my heart's content as well.

Planning many, many returns. Note to The Mister: date night should always begin here. 

*All images via Cucina Enoteca


Albertina || MimosaLane said...

the decor is molto fabuloso!! WIsh I could swing by and try it!!

Kristen said...

Isn't it great?! I did a post on this place as well! Same situation, wasn't expecting to love it so much. My favorite part? Almost everything you see is available for purchase. Like the chair your sitting in? Buy it. A really fun concept.

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