The Hobbit has been showcasing French cuisine in a unique format since 1972, when it opened in Orange, Calif. Michael Philippi bought the restaurant from his parents in the late 1970s with his wife, Debra. He now serves as executive chef of the concept, where dinner takes place in three “acts.” The experience costs $88, with wine pairings for an additional $50.
First, guests are invited into the wine cellar of the restored, three-story home for small bites and a glass of the Hobbit’s proprietary Champagne. Michael and Debra assist guests while they peruse the 1,100 labels overseen by wine director Matthew McKinney. The wine program features showstoppers from California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and Germany, including several Burgundy grands crus and Bordeaux picks going back to the 1950s. “Act II” takes place in the dining room, where chef Philippi serves three courses from a weekly changing menu. After a brief intermission, guests return to their seats for a sorbet palate-cleanser and entrées, followed by dessert. With various vintages of Château d'Yquem Sauternes, Canadian ice wines, late-harvest Napa labels and more, the dessert wines are the big finale.