My husband AND I recently dined at Andrei’s Restaurant in Irvine, but this wasn’t just a matter of going out for a “nice meal.” This was an “experience.” From the moment we walked through the door we were greeted by beautiful décor and a warm staff. The manager personally greeted us and our server was very personable. We felt like we were in the company of friends right away.
We were still taking in all the sights and smells when the Executive Chef, Yves Fournier, came over to personally greet us and give us a synopsis of what Andrei’s was all about. It was enlightening. I came to (hopefully) enjoy some great local cuisine… I had no idea that this place was founded on such wonderful principles as well.
First of all, Andrei’s is a 501.C3 non-profit organization focused on a number of community and global support causes. All of the proceeds from the restaurant go to a charity that helps fund wonderful causes (see sidebar for details). They are “Conscious Cuisine” on all levels and really do make a difference.
And just what is “Conscious Cuisine?”
At Andrei’s, “Conscious Cuisine” embodies many different facets. From the sourcing to the preparation, everything is done with thought and purpose. They think responsibly about how food is sourced and prepared and with that in mind, they go out of their way to work with local vendors and farmers. Andrei’s also uses local, seasonal and fresh organic ingredients. Free-range and organic meats are utilized as well as sustainable seafood choices. And it doesn’t just stop there. Biodegradable chemicals are used in all aspects of their operation; they recycle their oil and also work to reduce paper and energy usage.
Andrei’s mission is to “go further, to think responsibly and to care deeply about all aspects of sourcing and preparing our food, serving it with style and creating an environment where sharing a meal enhances relationships with family and friends. That’s what Andrei’s is all about.”
And it’s true. We really felt like family there from start to finish. I’m a little embarrassed now to look back on all the things we ordered in the name of “research,” but, well it was a delicious burden to shoulder.
We started off with our server’s suggestion of the Dante’s Winter Sangria and were not disappointed. It is a warm and fuzzy concoction of Spiced Rum, White Wine and Winter Fruits and Spices (served up in a cinnamon sugar-rimmed glass). Those went down just all too well and were a perfect accompaniment to the smorgasbord of goodies we ordered.
I’m crazy for starters so I chose several appetizers as my main meal option. First, the Spiced Lamb Spring Rolls (Feuille de Brick, spiced ground lamb, feta cheese, spinach, tomato confit, dill and cucumber yogurt and teeny peppercress) and the Alaskan Crab and Chilled Shrimp (deep sea Alaskan Crab salad, slow-poached shrimp, vodka cocktail sauce and teeny Red Mizuna). I was blown away. These two were just for me, no sharing (I’m lucky my husband doesn’t care for seafood).
Then the two of us set out our sites on the Cheese & Charcuterie (the chef’s selection of local cheeses, dried fruit, honey, nuts, Dijon Mustard and a French Baguette). It was a long drawn-out feast for the senses.
My husband then went on with the Moroccan Chicken Pastilla (slow-braised chicken, onion, carrot, almond, garbanzo bean, tomato, garlic and fresh herbs wrapped in Feuille de Brick dough). This time he was the one reluctant to share.
We really shouldn’t have, but we finished off with the Goat Cheese Cheesecake with a pecan crust and cranberry and pear compote and the Dark Chocolate Crème Brulee with pecan & bourbon cookie. Just divine.
We had a wonderful experience and can’t wait to come back. And, I just may have to try another five items all by myself in the name of “research” again. Oh, the sacrifices I make.
THE ANDREI FOUNDATION
The Andrei Foundation was established in November 2005 in memory of Andrei Olenicoff and was made possible by the generous contributions of those who cared for him as a son, brother, husband, friend and colleague.
This Foundation serves to honor his memory by carrying on his legacy of kindness, hope, and respect for all. During his lifetime, Andrei was afflicted with a retinal degenerative disease known as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP and other retinal degenerative diseases affect 1 in 28 people in the U.S., causing vision impairment or vision loss.
Finding a cure for these life-altering diseases and aiding people affected by vision impairment and blindness is the main goal of this Foundation as is supporting causes like nature and wildlife conservancies that were near and dear to Andrei’s heart.
2607 Main St., Irvine