For delectable fusion cuisine, blending flavors of the Pacific Rim, Provence, and Tuscany, travel no further than Restaurant Christine. Chef and Owner Christine Brown created an eclectic menu that is both unique and flavorful, incorporating Asian, Mediterranean and French influences to offer a wide variety of tastes. Located in Torrance near the foot of Rolling Hills, Restaurant Christine feels like a cozy Mediterranean villa, and provides a relaxed setting to enjoy a meal with friends and family or perhaps celebrate a special occasion. A reasonably priced wine list, friendly service, and excellent fare make Restaurant Christine an experience worth repeating.Read More ...
Finding top restaurants in the South Bay can be a challenge worthy of the most dedicated foodie. For years, the South Bay has been an endless revolving door of bistros, sushi restaurants, and “casual beach dining.” But it has also been home to Restaurant Christine.
Tucked away on the foot of Rolling Hills, Restaurant Christine combines a relaxed, casual atmosphere with excellent food to create a pleasurable South Bay dining experience. Chef/Owner Christine Brown has created an entertaining menu, with special emphasis on Pan Asian cuisine. Additions of Mediterranean, French, and even Mexican influences give wonderful options to any visitor. Restaurant Christine is celebrating their tenth year, and General Manager Claudia Molera says that the success of the restaurant is due to a loyal group of regulars that come and enjoy the varied tastes and the personal touch that Christine Brown adds to each meal.
Despite residing in a small office park, Restaurant Christine reminded my guest and me of a small boutique winery. The entrance to the restaurant doubles as an outdoor patio, with several tables set behind white trusses, and wonderfully simple landscaping that separates the parking from the patrons. The only drawback is that the patio area can be a little noisy given its proximity to the street. The patio is best for a late evening dinner, after the traffic dies down along the boulevard.
Inside, Christine’s is a quirky space, essentially one large room with a tall, vaulted ceiling and three different seating levels filled with tables and a few booths. If you’re planning a romantic evening, calling ahead to reserve one of the few booths would be wise. Unless you are seated in one of the booths, Christine’s is better suited to a meal with close friends or family, as the layout does not lend itself to quiet dinners; the large expansive room was quite loud during our visit. But the space is well appointed—with bright earth tones and a faux indoor ceiling with terracotta tiles, Christine gives you the feel of a relaxing Mediterranean villa.
Upon being seated at a small table in the bar area, a small cup of the soup de jour—a creamy tomato soup—and a helping of Tuscan bread was brought to our table. It was an excellent way to begin the meal. A nod to the chef’s Asian influences, the soup was served in a traditional Chinese teacup, a presentation we thought set the tone for the dinner as relaxed and comfortable. The soup was a light and traditional interpretation of tomato soup, with just the right amount of sweetness. The Tuscan bread was fresh as you can find without climbing in the oven, and served plainly wrapped in a dinner napkin.
Intrigued by the name as much as the fare, we selected the Asian Grazing Sampler for our appetizer. It turned out to be an excellent appetizer (and large, so make sure you’re hungry). Four large tempura crayfish & asparagus rolls and a generous portion of fried calamari sat on the outside of the long rectangular serving plate, next to a garnish of wasabi mayonnaise. At the center of the plate, four slices of seared Ahi rested with two large grilled shrimp. The star was the deftly prepared Ahi, which exhibited a wonderful blood-red color, and was dressed with an orange cilantro drizzle and sesame seeds. The tempura crayfish & asparagus roll would have a place in the finest sushi bars in the city. The crayfish was in a mayonnaise base, rolled with asparagus and then deep-fried in a light tempura coating. The grilled shrimp was simply prepared and served cold, with just the right firmness to the bite. The fried calamari was seasoned nicely and fried to a light golden brown, but was served slightly under temperature. Overall, the appetizer did an excellent job of balancing out the crisp textures of the fried items with the chewier offerings of the Ahi and shrimp.
Our server Amy, who was pleasant and efficient, next brought our Chopped Greek Salad. The salad, prepared in a cylindrical mold, was a beautiful tower of fresh kalamata olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and capers, topped with feta cheese. Surrounding our tower of veggies, were three heavenly slices of asiago-garlic bread (we could have eaten and entire basket of these). A balsamic vinaigrette finished the refreshing salad, which was a perfect second course after the heaviness of our fried appetizers.
Our entrée selections arrived shortly after our salad plates were cleared, and we were not disappointed. The generous portion of New Zealand Lamb Chops was perfectly prepared, cooked to a wonderfully pink medium rare. The lamb’s flavor exploded with fresh rosemary, and the chops were arranged neatly above a serving of sautéed spinach. The very subtle jus of feta cheese was sauced under the entire dish, and complemented both the lamb and the spinach to a tee. As good as the lamb was, the accompaniment of eggplant moussaka was simply unbelievable. Served in a tureen on the side, the richness of the dish bordered on criminal. The mixture of ground lamb, eggplant, tomato, and the rich béchamel sauce still lingers. It is worth the price of the entire dish.
Our second entrée was the Grilled Tiger Shrimp & Sea Scallops. As with the lamb, both the rock shrimp and the large jumbo sea scallops were fabulously prepared. The scallops had been cooked to just the right firmness, and the shrimp were equally fantastic. Each was simply seasoned and tasted superb. Complementing this dish were portions of lobster ravioli and mustard greens, an odd combination that was, in a strange way, a fine pairing of opposites. The ravioli were luxurious and sweet, while the bitterness of the mustard greens worked to balance the palate. The entire dish was served over an accompanying lobster cream sauce. The radiant yellow sauce, the color reminiscent of a bright curry, provided just enough flavor to accent the entrée, but definitely stayed far in the background.
Along with our main course, we had a glass of the 2004 Rock Rabbit Shiraz. A rich, fruity selection, the shiraz was well suited to join the lamb, but probably too bold for the shrimp and scallops. Christine has a nice, reasonably priced wine list, featuring a diverse selection of California wines.
At this point, my guest and I were feeling very satisfied, but undaunted, we pressed forward to dessert. After much debate between plenty of tempting choices, we decided on the Fresh Fruit Sorbet, and the Warm Pecan Tart. Along with a very good cup of coffee, the Raspberry Sorbet was lovely way to end our meal. The generous helping of the sorbet, more than enough for two, was not too sweet, and the natural tartness of the raspberries shined through. The refreshing sorbet had a texture with just a hint of iciness, and the bright pink colors made the dish a soothing treat.
The pecan tart was served with a lovely crème anglaise sauced on the edges of the plate, and the whole miniature tart was also enough for two to share. The filling was not too sweet, as can sometimes happen with pecan recipes, and the crust was light and buttery. Unfortunately, the flavors of the dessert were somewhat compromised, as the tart was served a little burnt. Our server Amy was apologetic, but we declined a replacement, given there was no physical way we could eat any more, for fear of serious permanent damage.
If you visit Restaurant Christine and enjoy the food as much as we did, you can have Chef Brown teach you to make it. She offers cooking classes about once every quarter, and the courses are a very smartly priced $50 per person. Restaurant Christine also offers catering services, and can host banquets up to 40 people at the restaurant.
For the rest of us, we can come for the food, and the prompt and pleasant service. Restaurant Christine is indeed a South Bay treat, and a far cry from much of the ordinary that surrounds it.
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the GOOD - the salad (yip-yip hooray for the vegans!)
the BAD - everything else on the menu. lobster ravioli - mediocre at best. filet mignon medallions - it's a hit or miss. peppardelle pasta...ehh. the braised short ribs were too salty. actually, it tasted like braised beef jerky (Oberto's Original to be exact). the fusion - what gringo will know the difference? it's supposed to taste all mixed up...right? wine list - limited. come on people, forget about the cooking classes, get in touch with some wine brokers/wholesalers!! i'll tell you a secret...you will make the money back on your investment.
the U-G-L-Y - one of the most important aspects of dining...the service. it is just shocking...and i've traveled the world. if i didn't live a stone's throw away, i wouldn't have dined here half a dozen times. i've finally learned the price of convenience. do yourself a favor, go to sizzler or red lobster instead, the food will be equivalent and less pretty, BUT, they WIll appreciate the $250 you spend on dinner. but if you do happen to go...i would like to say in advance..."i told you so." i give it a 1, because the salad was consistently decent. also, it's a great place for baby boomers and the elderly, because here - ignorance truly is bliss.