Harlow's Offers Themed Dining – and Drinking

If you feel like you're dodging the law during the Prohibition Era, that's intentional.

Marbella Plaza is becoming something of a night spot, now that Harlow’s Fine Cuisine and Cocktails, has finally joined South Coast Kitchen and The Olives Branch Mediterranean Grill

Set to open around Thanksgiving, it finally premiered this month. 

The first thing you may notice about Harlow is the themed rooms. The second might be that you're drinking alcohol from teacups. Poured by a bartender with a handlebar moustache.

It's Prohibition chic.

With her 23 years experience in the restaurant business and party planning, San Juan Capistrano resident Bonnie Harlow Kingston is opening her first restaurant and bar with whimsical dining rooms which feature house favorites and comfort foods with modern infusions.

“I simply wanted to open the kind of place that I would want to go, and I wanted it to be close to home. There’s nothing like Harlow’s in San Juan Capistrano and maybe not anywhere in Orange County, so I had to create it,” Kingston said.

The cozy yet imaginative design of the restaurant and bar features the “The Gatsby” room and “The Rabbit Hole” for Alice in Wonderland fans. According to Kingston, “The Gatsby” will offer a place for local artists to display their 1920s-themed works for sale.

Kingston wanted to express her love for literature in the bar’s design, making it a place where customers can enjoy a unique night out, she said.

The cocktails served from the “Apothecary,” Harlow’s bar, features "classic Prohibition Era favorites" served in teacups "like they were in certain establishments during the 1920s to disguise their illicit elixirs,” Kingston said.

Meanwhile, the Harlow’s menu leans toward the health conscious, she said.

Kingston uses locally grown, sustainable, organic and non-GMO produce. The kitchen will use organic meats and seafood caught and brought in fresh, daily. The handcrafted cocktails will be made with organic ingredients as well, along with gluten-free beverage options, she said.

Harlow’s looks forward to the seasonally changing menu, accompanied with creative seasonal cocktails, Kingston said.

“Autumn and winter will bring more of the cozy comfort foods and spring and summer with feature lighter more refreshing fare,” she said.

bill odel March 27, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Great place, great food, and great charm.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) March 27, 2013 at 06:18 PM
My husband and I ate there Saturday. It was a GREAT meal, and I do not impress easily. The chef is obviously skilled. I love what our restaurants say about us in SJC: 1) we appreciate fine dining 2) we're in love! (lots of great date restaurants, and I put this one at the top)
jim capistrano March 28, 2013 at 05:19 PM
...i'd be careful in believing some people's assessments...although i never made the dining room. I found the service spotty in the bar, with having to signal the server whenever we wanted something...like a new drink...the liquor and beer they stocked was so "high end" that you've never heard of it...meaning high prices...Call me a low class patron...but until I can get a Budweiser...I'll drink down the street.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) March 28, 2013 at 05:22 PM
LOL, you just put Yelp out of business! I'm a food snob, no doubt (was a personal chef for a time), And a brand new restaurant is always going to have some kinks. But a Bud kind of place this will never likely be.
jim capistrano March 28, 2013 at 05:46 PM
...yea...let's eliminate the most popular beer in the country...and see if Harlow's makes it a year...
jim capistrano March 28, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Although, compared with the lamb restaurant with smoking from the pipes from the middle east...whatever they're called...I vote Hoalow's #1 restaurant in that shopping center
Frank E. March 28, 2013 at 08:22 PM
The cocktails are way overpriced for my budget.
jim capistrano March 28, 2013 at 08:25 PM
....on second thought...the Bud's would probably be $15.00 a bottle...
ca March 28, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Best of luck to you! we'll be stopping by to check it out... i love the idea and enthusiasm about the concept of your restaurant ... we want to support your efforts and ALL of the businesses in the Marbella Plaza! Good Luck!!
Dusty W Otero March 29, 2013 at 01:36 AM
I wounder if the new owner wants the road to go thru under the bridge lol El..Horno..
Robert April 01, 2013 at 04:41 PM
The Swallows probably has budweiser, if the bartender can hear you in there. But you're right about no excuse for careless service, not in this industry. Every impression is a first impression. Take no prisoners! ;)
Robert April 01, 2013 at 04:45 PM
Please spread the word about what Harlows is doing well Publicly. The food is amazing, the concept is unique, the setting romantic. And many of the menu offerings you will not find in the area. Being a new restaurant, areas it can improve would be most appreciated being shared privately and directly with the business. Im sure the owner would love feedback to make it your favorite local place to dine.
jim capistrano April 01, 2013 at 04:52 PM
...you might start with the owner getting off her rear-end at the bar all night and "working the floor".
ca April 01, 2013 at 09:15 PM
re:" I wounder if the new owner wants the road to go thru under the bridge lol El..Horno.." boy I sure hope so... it's a necessity long overdue!!
ca April 01, 2013 at 09:18 PM
re: jim capistrano...wow... have you ever heard the phrase, if you don't have anything nice to say.... say nothing!.... you've posted your negative opinions countless times here. i'm beginning to think it's personal .... stop it...
jim capistrano April 02, 2013 at 04:18 PM
..which one of my comments haven't been true?...if she followed my advice she would have a successful restaurant...instead...
ca April 02, 2013 at 10:55 PM
dear jim.. you're a dope.. i've lived in sic for 30 years and i hope i don't know you
Penny Arévalo (Editor) April 02, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Let's not get into calling names, please.
jim capistrano April 03, 2013 at 01:07 AM
,,,where is sic?...does one get smarter the longer one lives in sic? Obviously one does not get more tolerant...but I realize that goes with the territory...
bill odel April 09, 2013 at 08:46 PM
How about all of them. If you want a Bud fine, but if you want fine dinning, Harlows is a great place.


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