Chapter One: The Modern Local in Santa Ana

What makes Chapter One: the modern local different from all the other cool gastropubs?  For starters – all patrons in the bar the day Osama Bin Laden was declared dead were poured free shots to celebrate!  Score one for the cool new joint!  Open since March of 2011, this restaurant is located in Artists Village in downtown Santa Ana and features modern pub grub and some serious micro brews.

The restaurant has a dark, rustic yet modern feel.  The tables, booths and communal tables all offer a comfortable dining space.  Hanging out the bar if you have to wait for a table isn’t half bad either.  With big screen tv’s and plenty of libation at hand, one can while away the time.

On to the food.  Appetizers included the Scotch Egg featuring a hard-boiled egg covered in ground turkey, panko crust, w/ Asian mustard mango sauce.  This was a cold dish and I didn’t much care for the flavor.  A bit on the boring side.  Skip this and opt for the Mac and Cheese instead – with white cheddar, fontina cheese, pearl onions, smokey bacon, fried onions, toasted panko.  This one is killer comfort food!

At our server’s suggestion I tried the Banana Bread beer.  Yes it does smell like it and tastes great.  Quite refreshing and food friendly.

My entree was the Beef Culotte – bacon-wrapped, coffee & chocolate crusted, dijon smashed potatoes.  The meat was cooked perfectly (medium rare) with rich coffee flavor and soft potatoes.  Well executed chef!

Connie ordered the Moroccan Chicken Sandwich with Indian spices and yogurt, cranberry aioli, chipotle cumin kersa flatbread, lentil salad.  Good flavor but I would recommend balancing the bread to meat ratio.  The bread is a tad too thick and should be slimmed down.

Dessert was PB & B – bruleed banana, maple bourbon caviar, peanut butter ice cream, candied bacon, chocolate oil.  Loved the rich and creamy ice cream.  The candied bacon was a bit chewy.  Would have preferred a crispier texture.  If the chocolate oil was present I missed it.  A tad disappointing considering that this is their signature dessert.

The service at Chapter one was friendly and attentive.  One of the owners Jeff Jensen was gracious enough to engage us in conversation as we were departing the restaurant.  We spent a fair amount of time learning about the inspiration that drove to the opening of this eatery, the choice of the chef (Oge Dalken from Detroit), how the layout was designed and future extension plans.  Jeff is a diligent, dedicated and passionate individual and I believe his drive makes this restaurant a success.  Jeff – please do consider my suggestion on improving the wine list 🙂

Our first visit was more hit than miss and we will return for a second try.  Looking forward to it.

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