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French



At 10Best, we're always on the lookout for Orange County's best restaurants, and while we appreciate places that have a broad culinary range, we can't help but adore restaurants that specialize in a given cuisine. When we're in the mood for French food in Orange County, we head to Ambrosia - a reader favorite - or we count on The Cellar's solid track record and consistently great dishes. You'll find these places - and any of the restaurants on our list - to be fantastic options for French cuisine, and if you're looking to concentrate your efforts, start with the vibrant Newport Beach area.


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Fullerton
The Cellar


Imported German china, monogrammed crystal, fresh flowers, oil paintings, velvet chairs, and leather banquettes set the stage for The Cellar's incredible cuisine. For more than 30 years, the restaurant has set the bar for fine dining in Orange County, and patrons linger to enjoy exquisite food and romantic atmosphere. The award-winning wine cellar offers 1,300 labels, and table service is impeccable, so it's no wonder that this is the location for a special occasion.


The Hobbit


Set in a Tolkien-inspired cottage, this restaurant wows diners with supposedly magical allure and Old World charm that's evoked by a wine cellar, cozy fireplaces, and a patio. With understated elegance, the cozy home-away-from-home features a seven-course, prix fixe Continental menu with standouts like beef Wellington, herb-crusted loin of lamb, beef filet with foie gras ravioli, and filet mignon stuffed with wild mushrooms. The entire meal is served in three "acts" and allows diners time to meet other patrons, relax, and enjoy an eminently luxurious repast.


Basilic Restaurant


Charming Basilic has a definite European ambience, from its window boxes to its cafe tables and gilt-framed artwork. The details come as no surprise, given the chef's Continental heritage. His Balboa Island restaurant has been a favorite for years, and the intimate place is a favorite for special meals, especially romantic ones. While the menu does change, expect options like Coq au Vin, oven-roasted duck breast, seafood risotto, a house bouillabaisse, and steak au poivre. A five-course prix fixe menu is available as well, and when the weather turns colder, a monthly raclette meal is well-attended.


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Ambrosia


Enveloping, semi-circular booths, stands of leafy palms, and a grand piano with pride of place create a backdrop for special occasion dining at this elegant establishment. Presentation is old-school, thanks to tableside preparations of dishes like shrimp scampi and caesar salad. Entrees range from veal "schnitzle" with crispy sweetbreads to Sonoma pheasant with toasted hazelnuts and hedgehog mushrooms to North Atlantic turbot with black mussels and saffron curry fumé.


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A gathering place for local power brokers and celebrating couples, this husband-and-wife-owned restaurant benefits from personalized attention and Florent and Amelia Marneau's love of food. The classy space, including a seductive patio, hews to the details, as does the kitchen's flawless cooking. Expect traditional favorites like moules frites, savory tartes, charcuterie plates, and rabbit braised in red wine. Expect, too, to see short ribs, scallops, and lamb, all sumptuously presented. And to top it all off, rich, delicious desserts are a specialty of pastry chef and wife, Amelia.


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