Strawberry Fields Forever
On a sunny Thursday morning in September, the tink of golf shots and the clink of forks intermingle on the patio at Strawberry Farms GC. It’s a scene played out every day at this Irvine club, which has been a destination for golfers and diners in Orange County ever since it opened in 1998.
Patti Ross, director of special events, said the club has done a robust restaurant business since day one, catering largely to a loyal lunch and breakfast crowd.
“It’s a great place to work,” she says. “And I still eat the food here. It’s delicious.”
The clubhouse and restaurant set the tone for the menu, with the clubhouse styled as a Midwest ranch house, complete with working windmill, and the Farmhouse Grill restaurant sporting a decidedly country décor. The restaurant could pass for grandma’s kitchen or your local corner café. A red barn on property, which hosts special events, completes the theme.
The portions come similarly styled for an old-fashioned barn raising. Prepare to be amply served when you come to Strawberry Farms, yet affordably. It’s this that leads to so many loyal customers, according to Ross.
“We have a lot of families that love to come have breakfast here because it’s affordable and we have huge portions, so you can share,” she says. “We’re packed during weekend breakfast and during the week usually every table is full at lunch time from the surrounding businesses.”
Omelet lovers have five intriguing options, including the popular California omelet, which is made with a delicious mix of bacon, onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, avocado and jack cheese, and is served with a generous portion of country potatoes and a few of the course’s signature strawberries (more on these in a minute). Pairing tasty forkfuls of breakfast with sips of fresh orange juice is highly recommended to make it a true Californian start to the day.
And of course, the strawberries are a delightfully delicious pairing. The course’s namesake strawberries come from local Tanaka Farms for much of the year, Ross said, save for early spring and winter when they are sourced from Mexico or Chile by the club’s restaurant supplier.
“We always have strawberries,” she said. “They’re just a lot more expensive in the winter.”
But the club’s first choice is always local, Ross said, citing locally grown fruits and vegetables and noting the kitchen grows its own herbs, such as rosemary, on property.
Also impressive about Strawberry Farms is the expansive menu it maintains. The options seem endless for breakfast and lunch, and they just grew by two, as the club recently added a shrimp and avocado salad and a blackened salmon Caesar wrap to its offerings as the request of regulars. The can’t-miss housemade chips and salsa, both of which are made fresh daily, are a testament to the club’s dedication to freshness and quality.
“The chips, pico de gallo and guacamole are made fresh every morning and in the afternoon they roast the tomatoes for their spicy salsa,” she said.
Besides daily dining, the course does a strong event business, including at least one wedding a weekend. The event menu differs from the restaurant and features more refined entrees such as filet and sea bass. The club capably serves 150-200 guests a sitting and the food consistently appeases and pleases a sometimes finicky crowd.
“I can‘t remember working a single wedding in the last two years where they complained about the food,” Ross said.
The Farmhouse Grill is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and dinner on Wednesdays through Fridays.
While Patti Ross endorses the entire menu at Strawberry Farms, she highlighted the following as a few of the local favorites:
“We sell a lot of them. Our beans are made in house and they’re a cross between a ranch bean and a refried bean.”
Yankee Pot Roast (dinner menu)
Served with mashed potatoes, brown gravy, julienne carrots and garden peas. “We have people who come just for that – and we usually sell out of it.”
Freshly sliced corned beef with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on grilled rye bread and Russian dressing. “All our sandwiches do well, but are Reubens are particularly popular.”
Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut (dinner menu)
Served over garlic mashed potatoes with zucchini and yellow squash.
Chef’s Chicken Waldorf Salad
Grilled chicken breast over greens with sliced apples, seedless grapes, strawberries, mandarin oranges and walnuts with a creamy cinnamon-apple dressing. “A very popular choice amongst our female lunch patrons.”