Back Bay Bistro (Newport) - Great Scenery, excellent wine list, dishes range from the eclectic (quail, chicken stuffed with cream cheese, pecans, cranberries) to classic (bacon wrapped filet, lobster bisque, stuffed pork chops). Their prixe-fixe menus are a gourmet bargain at $20 for lunch and $40 for dinner, leaves room in the budget for a nice wine and a splendid relaxed dining experience.
Hush (Laguna) - A little more upscale (read pricey), a nice little restaurant with a really interesting menu. No matter what you have, order the lobster Mac 'N Cheese - infused with black truffle, leeks, lobster cream and paprika oil, and studded with crayfish and lobster, the fontina cheese and adelnte noodles combine for a sweet creamy flavor that melts in your mouth. ALMOST better than sex with the Goddess !!!
Gullivers - Across from SNA - Okay - it's hokey, oakey, and a throwback to great steak/prime rib joints of yesteryear. But cheaper than Ruth's Chris/Flemings, a great non-beef menu as well, Gullivers is nice for a hearty business lunch or a relaxing and intimate candle-lit dinner. With carpaccio and stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer, a table-side made Caesar salad, prime rib with genuine Yorkshire pudding, and freshly baked desserts, I've taken a few clients and more than a few paramours here - always a great meal !
Bistango - Von Karmen/Main (SNA area) - Upscale Italian fine dining, definitely a "white linen" dining experience. Excellent steak, seafood, poultry, with new spins on classic pasta favorites as well. Superior cocktails and excellent wine list.
I'd love to show you any of these when you're in town !