Feelings of anticipation and excitement always wash over me as I head to a Taste of Temecula Meet and Greet. Being new to the area, almost all the eateries are virgin territory and ToT’s choices never disappoint. Sorrel Restaurant / Bistro, a hidden Temecula gem, was another thrill in my exploration of local food delights.
With an inviting, Old World feel in a stylish and modern setting, Owner/Executive Chef Adrian Halmagean and his wife, Tracy, have carved out our very own little bit of European culinary bliss right in the Bel Villaggio Shopping Center. With a focus on variety, creativity, and simplicity, Temecula-bred Chef Adrian takes it one step farther, by partnering with local farmers and producers to include the freshest and highest quality ingredients – all in support of the “keep it local” philosophy.
A quick stroll through Sorrel’s mouth-watering menu descriptions had me wondering if I could actually rationalize ordering 3 entrees – all in the name of “research,” of course. Alas, my dignity prevailed and I had to settle for splitting an appetizer and entrée with fellow Taste of Temecula food lover and college student, Alec Williamson.
Bringing together the best from all four corners of the flavorfully diverse European continent, while infusing Chef Adrian’s expert palate and artistic eye in every dish, left the lucky ToT diners happily singing his praises. And that is no small feat for a group of 50+ famished people all arriving and ordering at once.
Serving that many spontaneously chosen meals in unison understandably can lead to spotty service and staggered entrees, but Chef Adrian and his friendly and professional staff pulled it off flawlessly. Not only were our meals delivered promptly, but drinks were kept filled, and individual checks (which some restaurants actually refuse to provide) were handled without the slightest problem. Score one for Sorrel and for large parties!
The arrival of each plate was hailed by the “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” of our eaters. Not only was each dish truly a visual work of art, but the consistency between like entrees was clearly a priority – one that assures that you’ll likely receive the exact same dish, no matter how many times you want to savor it.
Not only was the food beautiful, but the portions were extremely generous. The Rustic Goat Cheese Toast appetizer could have easily been enjoyed by four diners. Not being one who seeks out goat cheese, I doubted that I’d be wowed, but I was so wrong. The bread was lightly toasted, the sweet roasted grape tomato halves lived up to their name, and the goat cheese had a milder and creamier texture than I have ever enjoyed before. The balsamic reduction brought out and brought together all the flavors to make the dish truly delightful.
The tender and perfectly cooked Roasted Chicken entrée was an entire half of a chicken – double what I was expecting. The crisp-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside bird arrived on (what I can only guess to be) a 5” soufflé dish of delicious gratin potatoes for an appetizing and abundant presentation. (Hey, I was eatin’, not measurin’!) For all that food, Alec and I still had no problem savoring each bite and clearing our plates.
I had the pleasure of sitting with local real estate broker and “all-around good guy,” Tom Sicard of Sunset Properties, and was able to see and hear firsthand how much he enjoyed his Vineyard Chicken Sandwich – freshly made chicken salad with cashews and dried cranberries, lightly tossed in a roasted garlic cream. One other item I feel compelled to mention is the U.K. Beer Battered Fish and Chips. The only menu item without an additional description is easy to overlook. However, if you are a fish and chips fan, Chef Adrian’s version is a must have! Three large, well-coated, and crispy filets served atop an overflowing basket of tasty fries.
As happens on occasion with ToT’s gatherings and to everyone’s delight, Tate and Dave Donner, owners of Nothing Bundt Cakes, stopped by to drop off an assortment of their unbelievably yummy bundlettes for all the diners to enjoy. Carlene Dempster, owner of Mobile Baby Store, and I can happily attest that the marble, white white chocolate, and red velvet are all to die for (she says sheepishly) and we strongly suggest you go out of your way to try them.
In every way, our visit to Sorrel Restaurant / Bistro was a pleasurable, satisfying, and fun-filled experience. And, even as I write this, I can hear the call of Sorrel’s Veal Schnitzel and Morrocan Duck Leg. Still not sure which I’ll enjoy on my next visit, but either way, I do hope to see you there!
**JOIN US WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6TH, FOR OUR NEXT TOT LUNCH MEET & GREET AT HARRY’S PACIFIC GRILL, STARTING AT NOON. SEE YOU THERE!