Chef-driven cuisine elevates dining options at 400 Spectrum

Chef Amol Thanky of Michelin-starred restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco brings his elevated cuisine to The Patio Marketplace at 400 Spectrum.

What’s the chef cooking today?

That’s what I’m thinking as I step into Orange County’s most elegant office tower at 400 Spectrum for lunch in its new lobby cafe, The Patio Marketplace.

I pass by the marble-counter seating inside and head for the patio. Tables, sofas, shade structures and overhead heaters are placed throughout. Flames leap from a long fire table, and music floats on the breeze.

The menu is created by Chef Amol Thanky, who formerly led cook duties at Restaurant Gary Danko, a Michelin starred restaurant in San Francisco.

Dining at the lobby cafe’s marble counter.

Call it fine fast dining.

“It’s a new way of approaching food,” he says.

His mission: to make sophisticated food fast, healthy and approachable. “We put the love in,” he says.

His confit bean burrito includes house-made smoked brisket and black beans refried with the ends of smoked bacon. He also makes his own sausages, mayo, ketchup, mustard and dressings in-house.

You can stop in for a cold-brew coffee, a craft beer on tap or a locally sourced kombucha. And there’s an espresso station for that afternoon lull. Thanky’s grab-and-go menu offers keto bowls, salads and sandwiches like a line-caught tuna melt.

Irvine Company teamed up with The Patio Marketplace, of San Diego, to create the cafe, which isn’t just for employees — it’s open to the public, and worth a visit.