One of Chef Marco Bindi’s specialties: 9-ounce Creekstone New York Strip.

Two Left Forks is just right

‘I can’t wait to return to this upscale, casual Quail Hill restaurant’

by LORI BASHEDA

I stopped by Two Left Forks at the Quail Hill Shopping Center for lunch the other day determined to be good and get a salad.

And there was a nice selection of salads on the menu. But then I saw the Short Rib Poutine, and my judgment got cloudy. Next thing I knew, I heard myself ordering it.

No regrets.

If you’ve never had a poutine, it’s a French Canadian dish: fries and cheese curds smothered in gravy.

The one at Two Left Forks is a fancier version. House-made fries and shredded short rib are topped with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, a beurre blanc sauce and melted tomme de Savoie, a cheese from the French Alps. Oh. My. Gosh.

It wasn’t until after lunch that I found out that the chef, Marco Bindi, came to Two Left Forks from Hotel Laguna. And furthermore, Georgia Andersen, who owns Two Left Forks, ran Hotel Laguna for 32 years.

 Now she’s focusing solely on the Quail Hill restaurant.

The name Two Left Forks symbolizes an elevated dining experience, and the Quail Hill restaurant lives up to its name.

“I’m going to expand, do catering and banquets,” she says. “I want to concentrate on that.”

Andersen built Two Left Forks in Irvine from scratch before opening nearly two years ago. The space is upscale casual, with lots of warm white oak, leather booths and large picture windows to view the trees outside. You can also dine at the bar or on a spacious indoor patio with sofa seating around a fire table.

“I see a need for weddings and corporate events, and we have a really beautiful area,” Andersen says.

In fact, she recently shut down the restaurant for her own daughter’s wedding reception. It wasn’t the first wedding she’s thrown. By her count, she has hosted a few thousand over the past 32 years.

“We used to do 135 weddings a year at Hotel Laguna,” she says.

If you go for dinner, by the way, you might want to get a reservation. Brunch also gets a big crowd. It’s 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and involves a breakfast poutine.

While some dishes are too popular to play with (marinated salmon belly, bacon-wrapped shrimp) Chef Marco mixes up the menu about every month.

“You have to be creative and innovative,” Andersen says. “That’s the fun part.”