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FLOE Lounge at the Irvine Marriott

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As I walked through the sliding glass doors, the first thought that popped into my mind was, “THIS is a Marriott?!” It was so far removed from what I was accustomed to for a chain, I stared in disbelief. Their lobby area resembled living rooms only seen in catalogs, with oceanic hues and natural textures. A Jason Mraz-esque crooner performed on his electric guitar. And this was just the entrance.

Our experience flowed through a bar and lounge area, informal dining room and outdoors. These flexible spaces offered options for guests seeking refuge from their everyday surroundings. One couple pushing a stroller was being seated, while a nearby trio celebrated girls’ night out. I spotted business travelers decompressing on the chic patio after surviving a day of meetings. It was an assortment of people-watching, although what stood out was the generous distance between tables. Their attention to privacy didn’t go unnoticed, and I appreciated that my personal space was intact.

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FLOE’s kitchen practices sourcing through local purveyors, like creamy burrata from Di Stefano Farms in Pomona, used in their heirloom caprese salad. These juicy summer tomatoes are finished with micro basil and olive oil. The subtle coastal theme continues in a grilled salmon dish, featuring a wild sage honey glaze from Santa Barbara. It’s served with a corn relish originating from Irvine’s own Tanaka Farms.

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If you explore beyond the outdoors and meander down a staircase, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of ping pong tables and the longest foosball table I’ve ever encountered. Along the way (or on your way back), be sure to pause in front of the herb garden wall. Chances are one was snipped especially for your entrée or cocktail. Remember to validate your three hours of paid valet parking before heading home.

Originally transplanted from the Bay Area, Anne Marie Panoringan is a freelance writer who prefers to divide her spare time motoring between great cuisine (especially breakfast!) and workouts that get her hungry again. Anne Marie’s day job is in government, but late evenings are spent typing and catching up with her spouse and DVR.
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