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Benny and Mary’sWhimsical World

Divine Irvine eatery where dining becomes an adventure

Ordinary meals are transformed into extraordinary experiences at Benny and Mary’s, one of Irvine’s newest and arguably most imaginative of eateries.

Culinary delights, inventive craft cocktails and an immersive atmosphere were the hallmarks of a recent enchanting evening out when my husband, Tim, and I met up with our fellow fledgling foodie friends.

Alliteration aside, Benny and Mary’s more than lived up to its advance press of “eclectic style and distinct personality.” The seventh restaurant endeavor of husband-and-wife team Cynthia Vigil and Chad Reinhardt, “Benny and Mary” are fictitious characters created to lend a sense of whimsy to their latest destination dining concept.

Diners are invited into the “home” of this eccentric couple – a sprawling space that is at once welcoming, warm and wholly unique. There’s quite a lot going on inside in terms of contrasting fabrics, patterns and textures (think faux crocodile pillars, custom-made chandeliers, intriguing artwork and a preponderance of velvet).

This flight of fancy air of sophistication translates to its elevated lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menu featuring items with a flair for fun, delicious and even some that are unapologetically funky (grilled cheese dumplings and tomato bisque served in spoon).

Ingredients are locally sourced. Culinary creations are fresh, vibrant and bright – the beet tarragon salad is sure to rank among my favorites – enhanced with spiced yogurt greens, herbs, hazelnuts and cranberries.

I lean toward seafood, while my husband is a meat-and-potatoes man. So I was thrilled to discover an abundance of specialties to appeal to even the most discerning of palates.

Shucked oysters, seared octopus, a divine hamachi crudo (tossed in yuzu vinaigrette with fresh shaved fennel and pear relish) and an equally delish Baja shrimp ceviche. Love shellfish? Try the Lobster aglio e olio – a perfectly al dente pasta dish defined by Maine claw meat sauteed in fresh garlic, crushed red pepper and herbs in extra virgin olive oil.

Unsurprisingly, Tim opted for the filet mignon – which arrived grilled-to-perfection accompanied by pomme puree, confit tomato and Bernaise.

For a sweet ending to an indulgent evening, one standout dessert was a huge hit – a shareable whiskey brioche bread pudding with caramelized pears, salted caramel and spiced whipped cream.

Benny and Mary’s
18420 Von Karman Ave. #100
(714) 439-1733

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