The A Restaurant sister spot will be a fun, eclectic concept with a speakeasy bar downstairs.
As told to Tina Borgatta
It’s been the buzz among foodies since film and television producer McG and his business partner Jordan Otterbein announced their new concept, CdM, would be opening this month in the space once occupied by The Crow Bar and Kitchen and, more recently, The Dub — and the big day arrives on Saturday (March 9). The spot’s being touted as a cool hangout with an eclectic décor, a menu featuring classic American fare and a speakeasy-style space downstairs. Sauté Magazine caught up with McG and Otterbein (both Newport Beach natives) as they prepared to open the sister concept to their wildly popular landmark A Restaurant and A Market. Here’s what they had to say.
Imagine it’s a Friday night. What do you see when you walk in? McG: The great thing about CdM is that we’ve created an atmosphere where guests can feel welcome to arrive as they are and just enjoy hanging out and eating amazing food in a stylish but approachable setting. Friday night could mean a group of friends coming back from the beach, a couple on a date or colleagues that want a fun spot to hang out after work. We never want to set the vibe of ‘this is too groovy for this person or that person.
The five words you’d use to describe the CdM vibe are… McG: Stylish, contemporary, welcoming, comfortable, approachable.
And what’s the inspiration behind that? JO: We never want CdM to be strictly event dining. We want it to be easy to say, “Let’s head to CdM,” once or twice a week. We’ve created a spot that’s comfortable, but also one where you can have a completely new and exciting experience every time you come in.
Your three favorite things about CdM are… McG: Vibe, food, service. These are the three things that need to be excellent to have a truly outstanding restaurant, and we’ve worked hard to ensure CdM will have all three.
Tell us about the menu. JO: Creative American. Corporate Executive Chef Jonathan Blackford’s menu is a unique reflection of himself and how he views American fare. It draws influence from America’s melting pot of cuisine and will change multiple times a year.
Favorite dish? JO: We have a lot of interesting, high quality and flavorful proteins on our seasonal menu, but what I’m really excited about are the pasta dishes. Having grown up in Pittsburg with a heavy Italian influence, Chef Jon wanted a pasta extruder in his kitchen so he can make fresh, uniquely shaped pastas — agnolotti, gemelli, bucatini…
A standout pasta dish for me is the spicy lobster reginette with Maine lobster, scallion, lobster bisque and California pod chile.
This building’s been there a long time. Did you ever go there during any of its previous iterations — or dream that you’d one day own it? McG: Growing up in the area, I used to walk by this spot all the time on my way to and from the beach and to my best friend’s house. It’s a great location and I’m thrilled that we’ve had the opportunity to turn it into a place the community can be proud of.
And what was it about this spot that spoke to you? McG: When the location became available, Jordan and I couldn’t pass it up. We’re both graduates of Corona del Mar High School, so the idea of opening a cool spot in the community that we grew up in is really special to us.
And only because I gotta ask… Are you concerned that CdM and A Restaurant might end up competing against each other? JO: At A, we’re known for making a great steak. CdM’s menu is less steak-centric, and the vibe and look of the restaurant is completely different — more natural light and unique fixtures. Rather than compete, we think the restaurants will complement each other nicely.