Nova landscape and design center
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Nova landscape and design center to open in Mission Viejo
Mission Viejo's image has shifted a bit in recent years, away from the suburban outpost whose reputation peaked about two decades ago. This month, however, the community gets a new kind of retailer to liven up the landscape, and — brace yourselves — it's all about food.
The dining destination, called Mission Viejo Kitchen, will be in a new shopping center, called Nova, designed by the team behind a small coastal town in nearby Laguna Beach and a Greenbrier golf resort in West Virginia.
The center will open in October and feature 50 shops, anchored by restaurants by Santa Maria's Bouchon chef Thomas Keller and New York chef Daniel Boulud. Its design was inspired by the work of French architect Jean Nouvel, who also designed a recent eco-friendly restaurant in the United Kingdom.
Dining will open Oct. 27 at the Boulud outpost, a Mediterranean-style restaurant at 1210Nova Center Drive, while Keller's flagship eatery will debut in early 2019.
These chefs represent two divergent methods of cooking — Boulud's extravagant approach relies on expert techniques that demand lots of space, resources and overhead, while Keller's recipe for success is crafted around simplicity and access to top-quality ingredients.
Dinner at both restaurants will be prepared under chef's skillets, or wood-fired pans that provide ample fuel to crank out many roasts and broils for large groups. As well, Boulud's more substantial restaurants in Manhattan and Paris use equally-massive ovens and work as small units, but Bouchon was designed with a smaller footprint in mind.
Boulud's résumé is filled with notable eateries in New York and his other restaurants in California, and a cookbook. Keller has two New York restaurants, one in Manhattan and one in New Orleans, and a California restaurant in Santa Barbara. His teams' dream is to open a restaurant that has Boulud's size and ambience but is inexpensive to operate.
Both restaurants have designed their buildings with distinctively Mission Viejo decor, Boulud with dark timbers and terra cotta tiles, and Keller with locally sourced furnishings and earth tones.
The restaurants will share space with a variety of casual eateries, including an oyster bar, upscale pizza place and a gastro pub.
"It's not that the food is any better than (their counterparts in) New York and L.A. It's that it's significantly cheaper," Boulud said.
Boulud once said about the food business, "We don't want to destroy our craft to be bigger than that."
As the names suggest, the location is inside the Sierra Mission Viejo shopping center, which features a mixture of upscale shopping and restaurants. Its planners, real estate developer Michael Ho of Newhall Properties, said that restaurants and shops will be evenly distributed among the 60,000-square-foot space.
"The restaurant scene in the neighborhood has been shifting," said Ho, adding that the store will be "chic and sophisticated," and not "mushy."
The center will have plenty of space to support retailers, who typically prefer smaller, neighborhood centers, according to Ho. He called it a "pretty strong" selection that features brands such as Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik, Burberry and Anne Fontaine, among others.
The center, which is to open in early November, is a center of higher end retail for the neighborhood. The green, stylish corner of Mission Viejo, which has been expanding into more upscale dining and shopping recently, should attract more people and thrive as long as it provides nearby housing, Ho said.
The restaurant's decor was inspired by the space, he said.
"We don't really try to make a big deal about it," Ho said, noting the kitchen is in the middle of the restaurant and no special area will be dedicated for a dining room. "It really is two restaurants in one, two kitchens in one space."
Kevin Christian, vice president of marketing at Sonoran Restaurant Group, which operates Bouchon in New York and upscale bistro and oyster bar Boulud Bistrot in L.A., said it will take time to sink in for diners that have been accustomed to eating in these places, but the menu will reflect the restaurants. The cooking will be similar, but the L.A. version will be more casual, he said.
"You get that kind of'more-casual' experience, but you get the real, raw, quality ingredients that you know what you are paying for," he said.
Keller and Boulud both designed their places to look and feel like they're inside a house. While Keller's downtown Manhattan restaurant looks like the loft from "Sex and the City," Boulud's restaurant in Paris has a subway-station vibe, with a red-tiled, mustard-hued ceiling.
His restaurant, Boulud and the Skinny Table
What: Boulud's restaurant in Manhattan
Where: 20 West 16th St.
Time: Lunch, dinner
Cost: A prix-fixe menu can be had for $69 or $249
How: Start with oysters and champagne cocktails. Choose from dishes like cod, duck breast with prunes, sauerkraut-bacon, then finish with pumpkin flan with nutmeg or the banana crème brûlée
"I think that, more than any other signature restaurant in America, this will be the restaurant that people want to recreate in their houses," Boulud said.
The two restaurants will share space and can hold up to 120 guests, a generous amount. Diners can use Boulud's reservation system or be seated by kitchen line. Keller said that keeping dining rooms small will give each dining room "great personal attention," as he and his teams try to minimize the space between diners and waiters.
The menu will serve different dishes and will allow diners to