Sunday April 21, 2013 Lunch – Brunch at Gemmell’s

Sunday April 21, 2013 Lunch – Brunch at Gemmell’s

What a charming find in Dana Point. If you close the front door and listen to the soothing French music, and taste the Parisian flavors you could be somewhere in Paris. Really! French food that is so authentic, you need not get on a flight and travel 12 hours across the world to eat good. What Gemmell’s had to offer is old world French fare, with all the bells and whistles. Lots of perfect sauces, and fine rich nuances of Gay Paree.

Chef Gemmell was born in Guatemala, his ancestry is Scottish. He came to the United States in 1971, and worked as a bus boy at Disneyland. He worked there for 2 years, and went from busboy to assistant chef. After that he had many jobs honing his talents in the culinary world. His big break came when he worked for Jean Bertranou and Michele Blanchette at L’Ermitage, learning so much from these two masters. In 1978, at age 30 he opened his own restaurant, one in Dana Point, and then another in Newport Beach, and the rest was history. In 2000 he opened Gemmell’s in Dana Point, now rated #2 ZAGAT Best Continental restaurants in Orange County. Gemmell’s designs and bakes his own pastries, as well as his skillful sauces.

My server Vicky was very succinct, she did not mince words. When she said to try this you did and she was right by suggesting what she knows is good at Gemmell’s. I came there on Sunday, and got both the Bruch menu and Lunch menu, I picked most items off of the lunch menu. Vicky steered me in the right direction with my menu choices and wine pairings. What can I say, ask for Vicky, you will be a happy customer.

Here’s what I tried:
Traditional Onion Soup with a Gruyere Cheese
Blanket. Very much like traditional onion soup, with the melty cheese layed over a nice piece of bread and baked in the oven. I am a good judge of this soup, and this one ranks with the best of the best.

Lobster Bisque with Sherry Wine. Loads of sherry make this a powerful soup, I only wished it had pieces of lobster instead of being a straight puree.

Shrimp Scampi – Gulf shrimp sautéed in a lemon garlic buerre blanc. What a wonderful rich sauce that accompanied these little jewels.

Warm Spinach Salad with fresh baby spinach leaves tossed in traditional hot bacon dressing with a touch of brandy with scallops. Ok, I have to confess, by far the greatest spinach salad ever. These scallops are slightly breaded or egg battered, and adds so many flavors to the lovely sweet dressing.

Sand Dabs Meniere – with white wine, butter, parsley, and lemon. Vicky said this dish was very popular and I can see why. Thin pieces of fish with an egg batter, perfect light butter sauce, really marvelous.

Pork Loin with Madiera semi – glace sauce. This dish is also a keeper, terrific Madiera sauce to accompany this very tender pork loin.

Gemmell’s Bistrot Burger – Lean ground beef fresh baked nun with all the trimmings and French fries. Another good burger, but honestly, I would go straight for the shrimp, pork tenderloin, and sand dabs and skip the burger.

Desert Chocolate Mouse. Gluten Free. So delicious, a great mouse served in a parfait glass, how elegant.

Half Chocolate – half vanilla, Harlequin soufflé. With Grand Marnier this is Gemmell’s Signature dessert and is baked to order and served with a rich Crème Anglaise sauce. Wow, this desert harkens back to a time, when your waiter would have to ask you half way into your meal if you had any interest in a soufflé for desert. Anyone that knows anything about a soufflé knows it is a great culinary art form, and takes a lot of preparation. I was astonished and amazed; yes this desert is totally worth the calories.

Here are the wines I tried:
Champagne/Sparkling – Michael Servin, France. Nice effervecence bubbles, perfect starter for a great meal.

Chardonnay 14 Hands, Washington State. This is a very drinkable Chardonnay, and paired nicely with the Lobster Bisque and the shrimp scampi.

Chardonnay Rodney Strong, Sonoma. I like this with the spinach salad with scallops. This wine is not too over powering for this dish, it adds just the right amount of buttery flavor.

Chardonnay Cuvaison, Carneros. This wine was one of my favorites, with it’s great caramel, vanilla and butter taste; it went great with the mellow sand dabs.
Pinot Noir, Rodney Strong, Russian River Valley 2010. I like this wine with the pork loin, it was not too heavy and went great with the Madeira sauce.

Parducci, True Grit, Petite Sirah, Mendocino. I paired this one with the burger and of course the deserts. The chocolate and this wine was one big party in my mouth.
Everything I tried was truly a great experience, so much elegant fare; you really need to come here on an empty stomach. Such great presentation, artistry and the decadent flavors really will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

There is fantastic art on the walls, very Parisian oil paintings. The décor is right out of a bistro in the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The inside is very romantic and cozy, while the indoor patio is bright and airy. This is nouvelle cuisine at its finest. Even though it is a small, quiet restaurant, you can still have a relaxed conversation over good, consistent French food. You could have a pleasant dinner date or a casual friend meet here for a spectacular meal a la Francais. Either way you will leave very happy.
Gemmell’s Restaurant
34471 Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA. 92629


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