Just wanted to let you know that Yves Fournier left 6ix Park Grill in early December.
I asked for some clarification, but didn't get any. However, after doing a little checking up on the restaurant, I discovered that Chef Fournier had indeed left 6ix Park Grill in early December of 2006. My Valentine's Day dinner had been prepared by a new, mystery chef who had trained with Chef Fournier and was in the process of revamping the menu.
For the past few years, Cat and I have made a habit of celebrating the anniversary of our first date at 6ix Park Grill. With our eight year anniversary coming up, we were eager to find out how the replacement chef's dishes compared to Chef Fournier's. We showed up for our reservations tonight dressed up and ready to eat.
Our first order of business was trying to find out the identity of the mysterious chef. When I asked our server, a wonderful gentleman who's waited on us for every meal we've had at 6ix, he told us that the new chef was named "Jeff", but was unable to supply a last name. Determined to get the chef's full name, I asked the hostess and another server, both of whom seemed amused by the question. The hostess admitted she couldn't remember it, and the second server laughingly confided to us that the new chef's Polish last name was difficult to both remember and spell, which was why the staff just called him "Chef Jeff". He headed for the kitchen, promising to get me an answer from the chef. In due course, a scrap of paper from an order pad was dropped off at my table with the name "Krivokopich" written on it. I had my answer. The new chef at 6ix Park Grill was Chef Jeff Krivokopich.
While studying the menu created by Chef Krivokopich, I noticed that his creations were more conservative than Chef Fournier's, although his seafood dishes included some elements of Asian fusion. The menu was organized into the following sections; Soups and Salads, Starters, Seafood and Pasta, Meat and Poultry, and Side Dishes. The selection of meat, poultry, and side dishes, reminded me more of an upscale steak house than the eclectic blend of West Coast fusion dishes offered under Chef Fournier. The seafood dishes were somewhat more exciting, with offerings such as Alaskan Black Cod and Hawaiian Ono, although none of them were truly adventurous. However, I resolved to keep an open mind after I remembered how impressed I'd been by the Valentine's Day dinner Chef Krivokopich had prepared.
Every meal at 6ix begins with a selection of their wonderful breads. I was pleasantly surprised to find that their quality had not diminished since Chef Fournier's departure. Starting clockwise from the bottom of the plate, we had a crisp, cheese coated lavash, a fragrant rosemary bread infused with olive oil, and a soft pain de mie style bread peppered with flavorful bits of Asiago cheese. Each piece was absolutely delicious.
Since Cat and I were celebrating our last anniversary as an unwed couple, we decided to splurge and try a little bit of everything. For our first starter, we chose Shrimp Two Ways. Four large prawns were prepared, two grilled and two poached, and served with a tropical mango sauce and classic cocktail sauce. The grilled shrimp were perfectly salted, with the charred bits providing a pleasant, bitter accent. They made a refreshing combination when paired with the mildly sweet mango sauce. The poached prawns and cocktail sauce were a tasty but familiar treat. I found myself wishing that the grilled shrimp had arrived hot, rather than cold, since the temperature had muted the flavor. I also did a quick bit of math in my head and came to the conclusion that while good, the shrimp weren't worth $3.75 a piece. I enjoyed this dish thoroughly, but probably won't order it again.
For our second starter, we ordered the Crab Cakes. To our delight, they were almost entirely composed of delicious crab meat. Juicy and well-seasoned, the crab cakes evoked thoughts of scuttling crustaceans in a briny sea of mirepoix. The asparagus salad in yuzu vinaigrette helped cleanse our palates between bites of rich crab cake. A great starter and good value for our money.
We couldn't resist getting the Humboldt Fog Crostini as our last starter. After sampling some of it during our Valentine's Day dinner, it haunted our thoughts. The mature flavor of Humboldt Fog goat cheese combined with the complex aromas of Kalamata olive tampenade and sweet tomato jam to form the perfect topping for the grilled bread it was served on. The Humboldt Fog Crostini was the best dish of the night. I won't be able to rest until I go back to 6ix and have it again.
Cat was intrigued by the Heirloom Tomato Soup. Two different types of tomato had been used to make two different soups, which were served together in the same dish. The soup on the left packed a powerful punch that was oddly reminiscent of lobster stock. The soup on the right was milder and more buttery, like a light tomato bisque. Eaten separately, the soup on the right was better. However, when eaten together, the two melded in an intoxicating blend.
For her main course, Cat ordered the Hawaiian Ono, which was crusted with macadamia nut crumbs, fried, and served on a bed of caramelized onions and bell peppers. The ono was a dense, meaty fish. While the macadamia nuts added a nice fragrance to the dish, the fish itself was bland and dry. Cat was disappointed.
Feeling the need for starch, Cat got a side dish of Garlic Mash, a dense mixture of Yukon gold potatoes and roasted garlic. Although the flavor of roasted garlic had permeated the dish, it was also dry and needed salt. Due to its thickness, a little bit went a very long way.
I was in the mood to try several main dishes, which is why the 6ix Trio was perfect for me. It gave me the opportunity to try small portions of Alaskan Black Cod, Petit Filet, and Duck Confit.
The Alaskan Black Cod had been marinated in miso and broiled. It was served on a bed of sautéed Swiss chard with a miso beurre blanc sauce. The flakey fish had the sweet, buttery taste of Japanese style misoyaki, which the slightly bitter Swiss chard helped to cut. Unfortunately, the beurre blanc sauce was a bit of overkill, adding additional richness where none was needed. A good, if flawed, dish.
The Petit Filet with caramelized onions, crispy leeks, and sauce made from beef and mushroom stock boasted strong, solid flavors that really appealed to the carnivore in me. However, the filet itself was a little too dry, and portions of it were stringier than I was expecting. If the filet had been more tender and juicy, this dish would have been a real contender.
The Duck Confit was served with a thick wedge of pommes anna and drizzled with port wine reduction. The port wine reduction was delicious, as was the wedge of pommes anna. However, the duck confit was dry, almost powdery, and tasted only faintly of duck. I was expecting stronger duck flavor and a richer, oilier texture. Once again, the flavors were bold and impressive, but the treatment of the meat was lacking.
For my side dish, I got the Risotto, creamy with Parmesan cheese and liberally speckled with chanterelle, shiitake, and shimeiji mushrooms. The al dente grains of rice and delightfully cheesy flavor reached deep into my soul and awoke the sleepy child within. The Risotto at 6ix is a cheesy rice dish for adults. Move over Rice-A-Roni. This NorCal boy has a new best friend.
Although we were stuffed to the gills, we still wanted dessert. It's not every month that we get to treat ourselves like this. Cat ordered a Creme Brulee Napolean. Two squares of creme brulee were served on thin, crunchy wafers and topped with fresh strawberries. A long cracker of almond brittle was provided for use as a spoon. This was a great dessert. The tartness of the strawberries paired well with the rich creme brulee. The wafers provided an additional textural component, and the almond brittle, which wasn't too sweet, made a fun spoon.
To help her digest, Cat also ordered this cute Tea service, which provided three hefty cups of excellent tea. She drank it all as she tried not to fall asleep.
Since my main course had been heavier than Cat's, I thought the Sorbets Trio would make a refreshing palate cleanser. From left to right, I had lychee sorbet, pineapple sorbet, and berry sorbet. When eaten with the almond brittle, they helped relieve my beleaguered stomach and provided a pleasant ending to my meal.
I also got this excellent Cappuccino, which I knew I'd need to fight off incipient food coma as I stayed up writing this review.
6ix Park Grill - Chef Jeff Krivokopich is a more conservative chef who favors strong, bold flavors and presentations. He creates his fusion dishes carefully, innovating only when necessary. I enjoyed his deft touch with seasonings and sauces, although I believe that he still needs to work on his treatment of meat, poultry, and seafood, all of which were too tough and dry. Although he's not quite at the level of Chef Fournier, Chef Krivokopich is a worthy successor. I expect great things from him in the future as he further refines his menu and becomes accustomed to his new restaurant.
Bill (for two)
Shrimp Two Ways - 15.00
Crab Cake - 16.00
Humboldt Fog Crostini - 11.00
Heirloom Tomato Soup - 8.00
6ix Trio - 42.00
Hawaiian Ono - 24.00
Garlic Mash - 6.00
Risotto - 6.00
Sorbets Trio - 9.00
Creme Brule Napolean - 9.00
cappuccino - 4.00
Tea - 3.00
Tax - 11.83
Tip - 27.00
Total - 191.86
6ix Park Grill
17900 Jamboree Rd
Irvine, CA 92614