June 16, 2019


COSTA MESA, Calif. (June 2019) – Knife Pleat, the highly anticipated new restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred chef Tony Esnault and restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, has debuted at South Coast Plaza’s Penthouse on level 3. The couple’s chic new restaurant presents modern interpretations of classic French techniques.

“We conceptualized this restaurant to complement the extraordinary luxury retail collection at South Coast Plaza and named it ‘Knife Pleat’ after the fashion term, as a play on couture and cuisine,” says Sarmadi.  “The restaurant showcases the elevated but approachable cuisine that Tony has cultivated from 25 years of fine dining experience.”

The husband-and-wife team is regarded as a powerful force in Southern California’s culinary scene, having partnered on their previous Los Angeles-based French restaurants, Spring and Church & State. Spring mesmerized critics by using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients to create a cultured tasting tour of the south of France. Church & State, under Sarmadi’s ownership, was named as one of the inaugural Michelin Guide California’s 2019 Bib Gourmand establishments.

“The wait is over and it’s worth it,” says Debra Gunn Downing, spokeswoman for South Coast Plaza. “Knife Pleat is a spectacular restaurant that has everything that we sought and more when we were looking for a higher-level, chef-driven French concept for our Penthouse. Tony’s world-class culinary talent reflects the caliber of South Coast Plaza’s luxury boutique collection. We’re proud to introduce Knife Pleat to our visitors and to Southern California fine dining enthusiasts.”

For Knife Pleat, Esnault has created an elegant menu that features highlights such as Escargot Ravioli with a filling of wild burgundy snails in a mushroom broth with celery, garlic and watercress; chilled Langoustine with radish, green papaya, coconut espuma and lemongrass; Crescent Duck featuring breast and leg confit with Swiss chard, Tokyo turnip and pickled rhubarb. Esnault shows his appreciation for California’s incredible produce with a Vegetable Mosaic starter composed of tomato, zucchini, watermelon radish, kohlrabi and fresh chickpea.

Knife Pleat’s beverage program features craft cocktails that pay homage to designers who also call South Coast Plaza home. The Oscar de la Renta, for example, plays on the late fashion icon’s Dominican Republic roots with Brugal Añejo Rum, chinola, passion fruit and lemon.

The cuisine is set in a dramatic 5,000-square-foot space that has 80 seats and two dining areas – an airy dining room wrapped with floor-to-ceiling translucent windows and a plein air patio accented with greenery. A seven-seat bar provides views of the striking exhibition kitchen where Esnault and his team can be observed in action. The refined architecture and interiors by Johnson Fain – in collaboration with Sarmadi and Esnault – is decidedly understated, with a high fashion aesthetic and a soft palette.

The restaurant is open for dinner 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, and is closed Sundays and Mondays. In September 2019, the restaurant will debut lunch service and will be open seven days a week.

Knife Pleat is an elegant and approachable French restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred chef Tony Esnault and restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, who are well-known in the Los Angeles culinary scene. The couple’s chic new restaurant will showcase modern, seasonal interpretations of classic French techniques by Esnault, one of California’s best French chefs. Information: knifepleat.com or call 714-266-3388.

Renowned as a leading international shopping destination, South Coast Plaza is home to more than 250 prominent boutiques, critically-acclaimed restaurants and the adjacent celebrated Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the Orange County Museum of Art. It is the West Coast’s premier shopping experience, with its proximity to beaches and John Wayne Airport, customized concierge services, and unparalleled collection of diverse retailers — from Gucci, Hermès, Cartier and Harry Winston to Saint Laurent, The Webster, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and more. South Coast Plaza is located in Orange County, California, in the city of Costa Mesa. Information: southcoastplaza.com or 800.782.8888.





Tony Esnault and Yassmin Sarmadi are a power couple in the Southern California culinary scene, having gained significant critical praise for their former Los Angeles restaurants, Church & State and Spring. Both restaurants were named to “Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants” in the Los Angeles Times. Under the couple’s leadership, the restaurants were among the best in the region, which led to South Coast Plaza inviting the duo to open their greatest collaboration to date, Knife Pleat.

Chef Tony Esnault, regarded as one of Southern California’s best French chefs, has a stellar resume which includes stints at numerous Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe and in New York.

Growing up on his grandparents’ farm in the south of France, Esnault learned at an early age to appreciate seasonal ingredients and regional French cooking. At eight years old, Esnault had already decided he wanted to become a chef and went on to train at the François Rabelais culinary school in Lyon. He honed his craft at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe, including Le Montparnasse 25, Carré des Feuillants, Auberge de L’Ill in Alsace, and in 1996, at the legendary Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo, where he met his mentor, Alain Ducasse.

Elegance of flavor and artistic execution have become Esnault’s trademarks in the U.S. At the Ritz Carlton Boston, his reinvention of the hotel restaurant earned him “Best Hotel Chef of America” in 2004 by Food & Wine magazine, and the restaurant four AAA Diamonds and four Mobil Stars. In 2005, Esnault reunited with his mentor in New York City, working as executive chef at Alain Ducasse at the Essex House and opening Adour at the St. Regis in 2007. His work with Ducasse earned the restaurants a combined five Michelin stars and three stars from The New York Times. He also was named StarChef’s “Rising Star.”

Esnault relocated to Los Angeles in 2009 to take the helm at Patina in the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. A year later, Patina was awarded an exceptionally rare four-star review by the Los Angeles Times. At Patina, Southern California’s abundant produce provided Esnault with a new wave of inspiration and reverence for fruits and vegetables.

Yassmin Sarmadi’s love of restaurants began when she was five years old in her native Iran. As a young girl, Sarmadi would ask her grandfather to take her out to eat. That early passion continued to grow and led her on an epicurean journey across Europe and the U.S. During her travels, she developed a clear vision of what a restaurant can be: an anchor of a neighborhood, where communities gather to socialize, restore, and cultivate a reverence for finely crafted food. While refining her hospitality skills, Sarmadi set out to master the key elements of a financially profitable establishment. For six years, she worked as a Client Relations Liaison for a private financial lender to the restaurant industry. Her experience analyzing concepts, markets, projections and business models to assess viability and profitability prepared her for the rigors and variances of running her own restaurant group.



The spectacular dinner menu by Chef Tony Esnault at Knife Pleat begins with a selection of composed starters, such as a vibrant Steak Tartare with olive, celery, cured yolk and pomme gaufrette. The Escargot Ravioli features a wild burgundy snail filling in a mushroom broth with celery, garlic and watercress.

Seafood options include a Crudo with kombu-cured fluke, cucumber and green tomato relish, and horseradish; a Branzino, with tomato, yellow bell peppers, fingerling potatoes, prosciutto and piperade jus; and a Lobster Velouté, featuring butter-poached Maine lobster, English pea, carrot and kohlrabi.

Esnault shows his appreciation for California’s outstanding produce as he highlights the season’s most flavorful vegetables with precision. A Vegetable Mosaic starter is beautifully composed with tomato, zucchini, watermelon radish, kohlrabi and fresh chickpea; and a “Legumes de Saison” main course delivers stunning flavors with individually prepared farmer’s market vegetables in vegetal jus.

Among the noteworthy main courses are the Rabbit Pasta with braised rabbit, strozzapreti, piquillo peppers, pearl onion, mustard and tarragon; Crescent Duck featuring breast and leg confit with Swiss chard, Tokyo turnip, and pickled rhubarb; and a charcoal-grilled New Zealand Lamb Rack with eggplant, zucchini, tomato, couscous, mint, lemon confit and harissa.

Capping the menu is Pastry Chef Germain Biotteau’s brilliant desserts, which deliver on all notes, from flavor and texture to composition and color. His focus on flavors includes Tropical: vanilla panna cotta, passion fruit coulis, mango, caramelized coconut and sorbet; Apricot: clafouti, almond tuille, lemon verbena cream and apricot sorbet; and Caramel: VSOP cognac mousse, almond cake and crumble, caramel cream and ice cream.


Mona Shah
Moxxe PR
T: 818-749-1931