It’s weird to think that just 12 years before Five Crowns in Corona del Mar opened, the newly appointed Queen Elizabeth II decided to change the image used in all official government insignia to the Saint Edward’s Crown. And the best place to get a good view of that little slice of history is the iconic poppy-red British phonebooth that sits in front of the historic restaurant, begging for a selfie, inside or out.
The rest of the property is a replica of an English country inn, complete with period paintings, a proper Side Door pub, and enough Lawry’s beef to meatsplain how a proper cut should be served.
Diners can indulge in the signature prime rib roast, small plates of gastro fare, and cheese and charcuterie. But chef Alejandra Padilla has introduced some new menu items that have us sprung for spring.
The baby beets and burrata ($14) may not sound like a must-get item to start, but the spectrum of colors resembles a David Hockney painting thanks to muscat grapes, red and golden heirloom beets, beads of puffed quinoa, and burrata so firm it’s almost like a melted Abba-Zaba that’s been sitting in your car all day in the sun, yet with the consistency of a poached egg. The best part is sliding the beets across the aromatic basil-seed vinaigrette for a little extra yum. Was I supposed to eat the blue borage flowers? I totally did.
If you’re looking for a drink to pair with the dish, definitely go with a Lemon Meringue ($16), which smells like citrus buds bursting in the early evening. It fits in perfectly with the restaurant’s motif, as the full-bodied Silent Pool London dry gin gives the drink its spring-forward balance. The use of chamomile syrup plays well with the botanicals infused within and the frothy head, keeping you coming back for more.
I instantly regretted ordering the grilled Hawaiian prawns upon looking them in their beady little black eyes, but then I sighed in relief when I found their heads were attached like a mall Easter bunny on break and they slid off with ease. I got more of a Greek island vibe than Hawaiian with the salt-cured kalamata-like olives, the juicy pulp of fresh blood orange and bright bits of kumquat.
To share with the table, I recommend the 24-ounce pork tomahawk, but make sure to call dibs on the handle. The gargantuan hunk is sous vide, then crusted and dusted with rosemary, thyme, garlic and fennel pollen, which totally didn’t make me reach for the Claritin.
Five Crowns and the Side Door, 3801 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar; lawrysonline.com/five-crowns.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, level 1 WSET in Wine, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest happening this June!