Restaurant Spotlight: Scarlet Kitchen and Lounge

Scarlet Kitchen and Lounge brings a cosmopolitan way of life to South Orange County.

Settled into the expanding area of Rancho Mission Viejo is the hugely anticipated Scarlet Kitchen and Lounge. If you haven’t been there, you have been missing out on one of Orange County’s newest and chicest restaurants. Built from the ground up, the Riordan and Manley family has succeeded in incorporating fabulous food and creative cocktails into a welcoming, upscale restaurant with a cosmopolitan feel, where your dining experience is as important as the menu itself. Walk in and watch Chef Paige Riordan and her father Chef Marty Manley seamlessly create their works of art in the open kitchen. Although Scarlet is family-run, it is not a family-style restaurant. Going beyond grass-fed burgers and sweet potato fries, which are on the menu, they have created a menu that blends recipes from the East Coast with a West Coast flair. A true suburban gathering place with velvet chairs and leather bar stools creates a rich metropolitan experience, making guests glad they stepped out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.

Two Chefs, One Family

The back story is there is no Scarlet. Meet Chef Paige, she had not turned thirty and was already a rising star in the culinary world. She owned a dance company, Scarlet Fever, in New York City before attending culinary school on the East Coast, concurrently with her father, who was attending culinary school on the West Coast. Paige delightfully tells the story of how her father Marty told her he was going to attend culinary school, and her response was, “Wait, I want to do that too!” After late-night phone calls, recipe swaps and cooking comparisons, this father-daughter duo graduated from their respective schools on opposite coasts. Fast forward to today: Two chefs, one family with a culinary vision, and the Scarlet Fever dance shoes were traded in for The Scarlet Kitchen and Lounge. Chef Marty and Chef Paige helm the kitchen, while Marty’s wife Anne is the human resource manager (and talented designer of this sleek venue), and Paige’s husband, Matt Riordan is the general manager (not to mention one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.) Together the foursome opened this East Coast meets West Coast restaurant, incorporating both trendy and traditional dishes alongside classic and innovative cocktails while also offering a sneak peek of a couple select entrees that have graced their family table for generations.

On the Menu

On any given night, the restaurant is at maximum occupancy, so reservations are highly suggested. Although only open for a few weeks, many guests are already returning customers, wanting to try more dishes on the menu, like hot or cold lobster rolls, Mediterranean shrimp risotto, cape grim ribeye, wild mushroom bourguignon, lobster or sloppy joe grilled cheese, and the famous Riordan Liquid Gold (a pork and lamb ragout). There are vegan options as well as vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free. Happy hour is served nightly from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and is available anywhere inside the restaurant or outdoor patio, although sitting at the bar is a great option to meet the personable bartenders and watch them pour spirit forward classic cocktails like the NY @ Heart, a twist on the Manhattan, the Trifecta, or the old school Tom Collins. Dessert drinks include the Hot to Trotty (hot toddy) and the Express Me (espresso martini). There are dessert options as well, which vary each day, including different flavored house-made whoopie pies.

Something to Talk About

The food and outstanding service bring guests back again and again, as does the energetic vibe in the restaurant. This new gem is the perfect gathering place for the after-work crowd, date night, girls (or guys) night out, or any celebratory event. The outdoor lounge, complete with heaters and blankets, is a great place to relax, sit with friends, or make new ones. The patio is as large as the indoor space and available for a complete buy out for afternoon or weeknight events.

Scarlet Kitchen is on its way to becoming one of the most talked-about restaurants in Orange County, bringing in one of the only late-night dinner scenes in South County. Live music on the weekends is coming, as well as brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays. If you haven’t visited, do yourself a favor and see what the chatter is all about. If you have been there, the Riordan and Manley family looks forward to welcoming you back soon.

Scarlet Kitchen and Lounge
30865 Gateway Place
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA

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