Leatherby’s Updated Concept Rethinks Date Night

Steaks & Symphonies

More often than not, we get accustomed to routine. And while trusting a routine is safe, it may also prevent us from exploring outside of our comfort zone. Let’s look at going out on the weekend, for example. Having a casual bite before, during (depending on the movie theater) or after a movie describes most of our date nights. But when was the last time you were seated at a live performance? When did you last dine at a restaurant that’s new to you? Next time, we recommend switching things up. 

After 11 years of serving theater patrons, Leatherby’s Café Rouge felt the need for change, completely modernizing its dining room and menu concept simultaneously. Other than their name, the café experienced quite the makeover. The pristine, monochromatic décor replaced by dramatic red carpeting and whimsical accents. And, in an already competitive neighborhood, Leatherby’s embraced refined steakhouse cuisine. Providing a la carte service allowed for a personalized meal of eclectic twists.

Chilled lobster over toasted brioche and crème fraiche, a New York steak from Snake River Farms in Wagyu style, and shichimi-togarashi sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna are merely a sampling of past seasonal items from the new-and-improved Leatherby’s lineup. Our favorite taste was actually a vegetable side. Heirloom Carrots with labneh and dukkah spice were so unique to the remainder of the menu, we insisted on asking Executive Chef Greg Stillman about this particular dish. 

When questioned about the inspiration for those carrots, Stillman replied, “With vegetable sides, the inspirations can come from anywhere. This dukkah spice is just one of our current flirtations that will most likely lead to something else shortly, and the dukkah spice will be a memory, but always one that stays in our bag of tricks.”

Beef has a well-represented, yet modest lineup of USDA Prime Tenderloin, Rib Eye, Flat Iron (all three dry-aged for a minimum of 28 days), and the aforementioned Wagyu Style. Classic steakhouses may recommend an addition of lump crab or compound butter; Leatherby’s prefers a diverse sauce selection. Creamy Béarnaise or Red Wine Bordelaise will be the most familiar to meat-eaters. However, we were intrigued by an Argentinean Chimichurri and Cognac Green Peppercorn to enhance our meal. 

Saving room for a sweet is mandatory here — specifically for the Beggar’s Purse stuffed with blissful Valrhona Chocolate. Savor your crème anglaise pour over before alternating between bites of the “purse” with spoonfuls of passion fruit sorbet. The warm and cool sensations remind us of bouncing between a steam room and cold plunge at the spa. Their pastry chef’s use of temperature to present a thoughtful dessert was a playful touch.

The upgraded menu does come with a prerequisite: It may only be enjoyed on evenings when there is a performance at the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts. Weekend matinee performances may also allow an opportunity, but we suggest calling ahead for a reservation to be certain. This season, theater patrons can look forward to performances from Fiddler on the Roof, Waitress and Bernadette Peters, among others. Surprise your date with an upgrade of Leatherby’s and show tunes; you can thank us later.


Leatherby’s Café Rouge
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
615 Town Center Dr, Costa Mesa, California, 92626
Sunday 11AM-1PM & 4PM-7PM
Tuesday-Friday 5PM-7:30PM
Saturday 12PM-2PM & 5PM-7:30PM

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