Not just a rumor: Rumari’s dishes really are authentically Italian

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

In the 1970’s Bina and Antonio Crivello left their native Italy for a new life in America with their sons Massimo and Vince. Starting in LA it wasn’t long before the boys developed a love for cooking and a love for our beautiful Laguna Beach. A love, which saw them move here in 1989 and open Restaurant Rumari, Rumari meaning restaurant of the sea. 

For 30 years this traditional fragment of Italy has served locals and tourist in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is recognized by its cozy and friendly ambience, its warm dining room and a twinkle-lit romantic patio. It counts mama Bina’s famous Sicilian style cannoli recipe and papa Antonio’s delicious foccacia bread as its famous favorites. 

Rumari is a real “family affair” with some members of staff that have worked in the restaurant for close to 30 years. General Manager Martine is always a friendly face to welcome you in. And the wait staff are knowledgeable and friendly.

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Cannoli is made Sicilian style by Mama Bina

Our server was Fiore, who has been with Rumari for six years. She considers the Rumari family to be an extension of her own and her passion for the restaurant is evident as she guides us through the menu.

For this visit we decided to eat family style. Those who read my column weekly know that this is my favorite way to eat. I had the pleasure of three wonderful young diners with me this week, my son Jesse (age 14) my daughter Lula (Age 11) and their friend Hunter (age 11). 

Rumari’s menu is split into sections, small plates, pasta, salads, appetizers and mains. Without hesitation the boys in a group selected the veal meatballs from the small plate menu. These were absolutely delicious, served in a deliciously brothy tomato sauce, the meat was rich yet tender and the spices and binding ingredients were a cornucopia of flavors. Having had the best meatballs of my life during a visit to Sicily in 1998, I can honestly say these were just as good.

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The meatballs were as good as the ones I tasted in Sicily

My little pizza-loving daughter went for the pan fried pizzette margarita. Pizzette, for me, always implies small. This pizzette was not small at all. It was delicious, again the tomato sauce was so tasty and the combinations of cheeses (I feel like it was mozzarella and possible a mature chedder) was perfect. It was also super thin crust, which is definitely my preference. 

I decided to choose something lighter and went for a special of the evening, asparagus wrapped in pancetta with shavings of mozzarella. This was a delicious dish and surprisingly my small guests wolfed them down also.

It was then time to try a pasta dish (how could we not!) with over 16 pasta dishes (most of which can be served gluten free) it was difficult to choose.

However as we had gone for a fairly tomato based small menu to begin with, we chose to go for a more creamy pasta option and tried the Fettuccine Dello Chef Alfredo, which was an Alfredo sauce with tiger shrimp and parmigiano cheese. This was an outstanding dish and at this point I was regretting the family style choice as I sadly had to share it with the pesky kids! The shrimp was heavenly and huge, the sauce rich and decadent. I love that feeling when you know you made the right choice. I would highly recommend it.

It was then on to select a main and I asked Fiore for her recommendation. She offered me three fish dishes but in the end the Seabass Piccata won. Piccatta sauce is made up of lemon, white wine butter and capers and served over the seabass was exceptionally good, served with seasonal vegetables and a beautiful potato gratin, this was an outstanding recommendation that the whole table really enjoyed.

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The seabass was exceptionally good

What I feel I should say now is that at this point in our meal, I felt like I could have been sitting in a restaurant in Italy or Sicily. The authenticity of Rumari’s is really incredible, from the décor, to the table scape, to the menu. It really is like someone picked up the restaurant from Italy and flew it right here to Laguna.

An Italian meal wouldn’t be complete without a fabulous Italian dessert and we were not disappointed, out came a Tiramisu and a cannoli. Both of these (along with crème brulee) are on my wish list to be served to me on my deathbed, kind of morbid, but very true. And now I’ve changed that to ensure that both of these desserts come from Rumari.  

The tiramisu was authentic, rich, creamy and more-ish and the cannoli just the right consistency with its crispy coating and its heavenly filling. Seriously good.

Alongside all of this amazing food, I was kept well lubricated with a selection of wines that Rumari proudly carries.

My experience at Rumari was beyond exceptional. If you have never visited Italy, you have to book in at Rumari to experience traditional Italian flavor. If you have visited Italy and feel that you want to get back there, without the heavy plane fare, you definitely need to book a visit. 

Grazie Ristorante Rumari, ritorerò presto.

Rumari is located at 1826 South Coast Highway. Call 949-494-0400.

No Kid Hungry event raises an estimated $200,000: guests enjoy chefs’ choices at Montage Laguna Beach


On May 20, guests gathered to support Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungryevent taking place at Montage Laguna Beach, marking the 10th anniversary of this event 

It is a truly indulgent afternoon and evening, made even more special by knowing that one hundred percent of ticket proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry. 

Nearly one in five children in the USA struggles with hunger, including more than 2,487,750 children in California. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger in this nation by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. 

Since the campaign’s launch, No Kid Hungry and its partners have connected kids struggling with hunger to more than 500 million meals.

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The No Kid Hungry event took place at beautiful Montage Laguna Beach

A number of celebrity chefs came together to prepare fresh farm-to-table delicacies to further share in the mission to end childhood hunger in Orange County and across the nation. 

The enigmatic celebrity chef Fabio Viviani hosted the event. Hailing from Florence, Chef Fabio Viviani has opened numerous restaurants in Italy, as well as in the US. His most famed restaurants include Café Firenze in Moorpark (his first North American opening), as well as Chicago
 favorites and celebrity hotspots, Bar Siena and Siena Tavern.

Vivani continues to make a name for himself with the launch of
Lobster by Fabio, a seafood home delivery service, and a new
restaurant in upstate New York, Portico by Fabio Viviani.

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Delicious dishes were served to guests

The host chefs were none other than the wonderfully talented Craig Strong, Executive chef at The Studio at Montage Laguna Beach and a fellow Brit, Lee Smith who is the equally talented pastry chef at Montage Laguna Beach.

They were joined by a host of guest chefs: Chef Bruce Kalman, Union Pasadena;

Chef Bryant Taylor, Chianina Steakhouse, Long Beach; Chef Dakota Weiss, Sweetfin Poke, Los Angeles; Chef Eric Samaniego, Michael’s On Naples, Long Beach; Chef Jason Neroni, Rose Café, Venice; and Chef Tin Vuong, Blackhouse Hospitality.

The afternoon was spent enjoying delectable tastings of all the Chef’s dishes, which were seriously out of this world good, sipping fine wines, signature cocktails, and enjoying panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean at Montage Laguna Beach.

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Delectable tastings in a gorgeous setting

In addition to delicious food and drinks, we were entertained by a local band, the Kalama Brothers, who were fun and added to the already beautiful day.

The event continued into the evening with yet more eating and drinking while mingling with the chefs and hopping in and out of the photo booth.

Habit Burgers ensured that we all received an amazing burger to soak up a little of the alcohol before we made our way home.

It is estimated that the event raised approx. $200,000.

For more information on the charity, visit

Monarch Beach Resort’s brunch at Aveo proves a royal treat

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

May 28th marked the three-year anniversary of my arrival in the USA, so what better way to celebrate than to go out for a very fancy brunch?

For this week’s report, I ventured south. “What, you crossed the border?” I hear you cry – yes, I did, I drove all of ten minutes away and went to Monarch Beach Resort’s restaurant Aveo to sample their incredible brunch.

Monarch Beach Resort is a luxury resort, recognized among the best in the world, with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and 400 exquisitely appointed guest rooms and suites. This resort is very special, nestled along the coast in Dana Point. It features the Robert Trent Jones-designed Monarch Beach Golf Links, access to one of the most exclusive beaches in Southern California, three luxurious pools, and six ocean-view restaurants, Aveo being the one that offers brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.


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Monarch Beach Resort offers panoramic views of the Pacific

Drawing inspiration from the South of France, Executive Chef Collin Thornton also borrows flavors from across the Mediterranean, from Spain to Italy and from Greece to Morocco.

Chef Thornton oversees all culinary operations including the resort’s signature Stonehill Tavern and Michael Mina restaurant; Sombra, a poolside Mexi-Cali cantina; 33˚ North, a convivial indoor-outdoor lobby-lounge; Part & Parcel Market, a grab-and-go marketplace; and Club 19, a gastro pub dining experience. An incredibly busy chef, yet he still made time on a busy Sunday over memorial weekend to introduce himself to me and my guest. He’s passionate about Monarch Beach Resort, enthusiastic about all of his restaurants, and his love for food is evident in the way he talks.  

Canada-born Chef Thornton has a distinguished career

Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Thornton began his culinary career at the early age of 14 in Edmonton, Alberta, starting as a dishwasher and working his way up to an apprenticeship at the prestigious Edmonton Petroleum Club. Thornton has a distinguished 20-year culinary career working at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts properties around the world. 

He most recently served as Executive Chef of the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto, home to the largest hotel kitchen in Canada, and previously held positions at Fairmont Hotel MacDonald in Edmonton, Alberta; Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda; the historic Fairmont Chateau Laurier on the Rideau Canal; and Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island of Hawaii where he oversaw 540 guestrooms, four restaurants and three lounges. 

Chef Thornton is very proud of the Aveo brunch, as he absolutely should be 

The brunch truly is a feast for the eyes. The spread spans the entirety of the restaurant, converting its bar, terrace, and dining rooms into a buffet featuring 10 over-the-top brunch stations. Never before have I seen such an exquisite buffet brunch, with so much on offer that it was difficult to know where to start. 

The brunch is divided into the following stations – well, the easiest way to explain them to you is to take you through them in order of how we ate.

The omelet and pancake station

At the omelet and pancake station, we decided to go for the omelet, with a side of bacon (the bacon here is really good, very crispy as I like it). You can build your own omelet and literally get the chef to make it just how you want it. Ours was delicious, light, fluffy and packed full of ingredients. 


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Beautiful to look at, delicious to eat

Raw bar and sushi station

West Coast & East Coast oysters, jumbo crab claws, and shrimp are offered at the raw bar and sushi station with an array of house-made accompaniments. AVEO’s sushi chef prepares made-to-order hand and cut rolls, and a bamboo boat boasts a sea of nigiri sushi. This was such a beautiful station to look at as well as eat from: the sushi was so fresh and prepared to suit your tastes and needs.

Savory station

The savory station features hearty offerings including Braised Chicken Cacciatore, Pacific Dover Sole, Moroccan Spiced Lamb Chops, and Seafood Paella that highlight the savory flavors of the Mediterranean and offer a peek into lunch and dinner items at AVEO Table + Bar. We sampled something from every dish on this station and they were all incredible. My particular favorites were the lamb chops, cooked to perfection and the sauce was so delicious. 

Little Italy station

Located outside on the terrace, the Little Italy station offers made-to-order risottos and house-made pastas & raviolis customizable with a variety of authentic Italian ingredients and house-made sauces. A wood-fired oven warms a variety of flatbreads including a sweet & savory Prosciutto & Pear with Quince. There were also cooked meats available here. We tried the flatbreads and risotto from this station, and they were both stunning.


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The dessert station is, in a word, spectacular

Dessert station

I have never in my life seen anything as beautiful and spectacular as this dessert station. Chef Thornton told me that the gentleman responsible for this was Jamon Harper, with whom Chef Thornton worked at The Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii, and brought over with him when he got the position at Monarch. I’m so glad he did. 

Amid a colorful menagerie of peanut butter jelly verrines and gold-dusted caramel tartlets, the Dessert Station also boasts a triple-tiered chocolate fountain and I’m told will soon expand to feature a made-to-order frost-top ice cream bar. 

This was a real treat and we sampled as many things as our tummies would allow.

My personal favorite was the chocolate dipped strawberries, which were the most deliciously ornate things I’ve ever seen and tasted so great.

Antipasti station

Fine American & European cheeses are displayed at Aveo’s Antipasti Station with artisan baguettes, dried fruit, and a whole golden honeycomb. Smoked & cured meats and house-made pâtés & rillettes are offered alongside assorted mustards and pickled vegetables. I don’t think I have ever seen such a range and variety of cheeses in my life, all so tasty and incredibly, even though this was a buffet, there was never any mess that you would associate with a cheese board, everything was presented so well and kept very well stocked.

Other stations include a Miraval Juice & Smoothie Bar, Continental Breakfast Station, Seasonal Salad Bar, Carvery, and a Children’s Station. 

This was a serious feast, I was so thankful I wore a very flowing dress for this occasion and believe me when I tell you, I ate nothing for the rest of day… This brunch is seriously worth leaving town for.

Brunch is priced at $78 per guest, $39 for children ages 5-12, and free for children under five. 

There are some wonderful upgrades available, including the Champagne package, the Bloody Mary package, and the Mimosa package. Full details are available at the resort’s website, or Beach Resort. 

AVEO Table + Bar is located at One Monarch Beach Drive, Dana Point.

The Wine Gallery lures in locals with Siren wines, Thirsty Thursdays, and great food and music 

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

May 28 marks a very special day for me and my family as it will be the three-year anniversary of when we first arrived in America. May 30 is also a special day, as it was the first time I met Chris Olsen and ate at my “local,” The Wine Gallery.

Fortunate as I am to report on every restaurant in Laguna Beach, it is always a little more special when the owners are friends and people you hugely admire. Chris and his lovely wife Heather are such people: dedicated, enthusiastic, hard working parents who, with two young children and recent year-long remodel to contend with, nevertheless maintain their deep passion for their business model. Their investment in the Laguna Beach is something to applaud. 

Happily, the universe delivers owner Chris Olsen to Laguna

In 1999, when Chris was 25 years old, and already passionate about wine, he opened Wine Gallery in Corona Del Mar. The Gallery began as a retail store selling obscure wines, but grew organically and to the delight of his loyal customers, Chris added a kitchen. Chris soon realized that this business model, a wine bar serving food to accompany his wines, was a hit, but the limited space in that location prevented him from opening the kitchen he wanted. 

As always, the universe delivered when one of his customers happened to own property in Laguna that would be a perfect fit. Chris signed on for that space in 2012, and Wine Gallery Laguna Beach was born. It quickly became a happening place, both because of the wine and the food. 

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Wine is the lure, but the food is fabulous too

When I arrived here in 2014, The Wine Gallery very quickly became a regular haunt of mine. Chris works tirelessly to improve his business model and is constantly changing to keep up with customer base.  He not only concentrates on the selling of wine, he is also an accomplished wine maker. His beautiful Mile 260 pinot noir is a really stunning drink, named after the distance from Laguna Beach to the vineyard in Santa Barbara. This wine is a firm favorite of mine.  

Chris also sells the 154, which is named after the road in which the vineyard that makes this wine is situated. I tried this for the first time during this tasting, and it was a fantastic blend of 70 percent merlot and 30 percent cabernet. I’d encourage everyone to give it a try.

My Food Journey at The Wine Gallery

Not only is the wine pretty special at The Wine Gallery but so is the food. Famous for its delicious wood fired pizzas (the gluten free option, in my opinion, is the best in Laguna Beach), The Wine Gallery’s family friendly American cuisine and menu caters for everyone. Cheese boards, snacks, seasonal plates, greens and large plates: the list is endless.

I decided to try the specials this week, and started with the Kale Special salad, a delicious tasty salad with a light oil dressing, pine nuts, capers, tomatoes and cucumber. This was crunchy, tasty and a perfect portion size for my guest and I to share.

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Without fail the kale salad is quite amazing

It was then on to the Beets and Burrata, a colorful array of beets, beautifully presented and a creamy generously portioned burrata, which went together exceptionally well.

I struggle to go to The Wine Gallery and not have a pizza. This time I chose the pizza of day, which featured The Wine Gallery’s signature homemade tomato sauce, ricotta cheese, shishito peppers, meatballs and garlic. This was really great and very tasty: luckily for my children, I didn’t finish it, so took the rest home. Yet again the Buckle children benefit from mummy’s job. 

We finished the tasting with the amazing warm apple crumble served with vanilla ice cream – wholesome, simple dessert done right. 

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Beets and burrata are beautifully presented and temptingly tasty

The Wine Gallery is also a huge supporter of everything Laguna Beach, regularly hosting popular local musicians to entertain guests. The combination of good food, drink and entertainment is what makes The Wine Gallery a hive of activity six days a week.

One particular favorite monthly occurrence is Thirsty Thursday, featuring wine label Purple Corduroy.  Purple Corduroy is the brainchild of Jeff Farthing, a successful wine maker in Lodi, Brandy Faber, marketing director with Roark clothing, and Steven Chew, DJ, surf coach and artist, all childhood friends and all Laguna Beach boys. 

So how did three surfer boys end up in the wine business? 

Brandy Faber explains, “Steven and I grew up traveling in search of great surf, and most of the great surf regions also happen to be in close proximity to the world’s great wine regions as well.” The three formed Purple Corduroy based on their love of surfing and wine making.

The name purple corduroy, not surprisingly, has the surfing connection running through its veins. 

As Brandy notes, “The biggest and best swells are depicted as giant purple blobs on a weather map. Surfers have long called swells lines as they approach the coast rows of corduroy. The symmetry of a vineyard is very similar to swell lines and when most people think of wine they think of red wine or dark grapes, purple grapes. The purple storm blobs fuel the purple corduroy swell lines before making their way to land and fueling the purple corduroy vineyards.”

Unique sirens lure wine lovers into The Wine Gallery

Purple Corduroy boasts three delicious wines, Red Siren, Blonde Siren and a Rose Siren. Steven Chew, aka SLi Dawg, the artist behind the Sirens unique design, explains that the Red Siren came first and was inspired by his Grandma Doris, who sadly passed around the time of the wine development. “Grandma Doris was an eccentric, loving lady with red hair and a passion for the ocean,” Chew says. She raised successful watermen: Steven’s uncle was an accomplished surfer and Steven recalls many happy days spent fishing on the pier with his Grandma. 

“The term Siren was an obvious ocean connection, I liked the idea of mermaids, but felt the word was a little overplayed,” Steven says. “There are myths and tales of Sirens luring sailors and watermen into the ocean with their song. The taste of our wine is like a song, singing and luring people in.”

And I would have to agree. On Thirsty Thursdays, the wine that is poured and the beats that accompany them, played by Dj SLi Dawg, certainly sing to many Laguna locals. It’s always a very busy night. 

The combination of The Wine Gallery’s forward thinking commitment to serving Laguna Beach and the genius trio of Purple Corduroy blend together as well as any wine blend I’ve ever tasted. 

Great job Chris and the PC boys – cheers to you!    

The Wine Gallery is located 1833 S Coast Highway. (949) 715 8744

If you’ve never had a Belgian breakfast, now’s the time to enjoy an authentic one at Brussels Bistro

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

It wasn’t too long ago that I reported on Tuesday nights’ Mussel Madness at Brussels Bistro. While I was there, restaurant entrepreneur Nicolas Servais told me of his and Chef Thomas Crijns’ idea to start a regular Belgium inspired brunch. Thoroughly excited at the thought of this, I asked Nicolas to let me know as soon as possible when that might begin. 

So imagine my surprise and delight to receive an email invite, asking myself and my family to be there on Mother’s Day, as they launched their Belgian waffles for breakfast and lunch.  

The new Belgian waffle menu features waffles for breakfast with either a sweet or savory twist. On the savory menu there is an Eggs Benedict Waffle: poached egg, tomato and spinach with hollandaise sauce served with bacon, ham or salmon. 

Eggs benedict waffle

For those of you with a sweet tooth there is of course the classic Brussels waffle, served with powdered sugar, butter, Nutella jam and maple syrup. They also offer a freshly made Chantilly waffle with whipped cream or another famous spread, the Nutella waffle.  

The Mikado Waffle offers ice cream and hot chocolate sauce and with all of these sweet options there is an option to add strawberries, banana and of course maple syrup. This menu is available from 8 a.m. until 11.30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Mikado waffle

The amazing duo at Brussels Bistro has really put a lot of thought into creating a weekend menu for everyone. From 11.30 a.m. onwards, the waffles theme continues, but the fillings change to include mushroom, smoked salmon or chicken-topped waffles. There is also a Vol-au-Vent waffle, a famous Belgian creamy chicken and mushroom dish offered on the crispy light waffles. 

And finally, the hamburger waffle for the ultimate fusion of the American hamburger and the authentic Belgian waffle. It’s a brave, exciting and dynamic menu, and as much as I adore a Mexican breakfast, I think it’s a welcome change in Laguna Beach that everyone should try.

Also don’t worry, people with food intolerances: they offer a gluten free waffle.

Our food journey at Brussels Bistro

I was there for brunch and believe me, having just had a rather crazy birthday weekend in the desert, I was in great need of a hearty breakfast. As it was Mother’s Day, we arrived at 10.30 a.m. and I was thrilled to see that many tables were filled. We were shown to our table and ordered drinks. I chose the Bloody Mary, which was really delicious. 

I could have predicted the way it would pan out, naturally Jonathan and I went for savory and the kids went for sweet.

I chose the Brussels benedict waffle, gluten free, with smoked salmon. This was absolutely delicious, the toppings were plentiful and the gluten free waffle was great. Naturally gluten free is slightly denser than the traditional waffle, however it was so tasty and the combination of the benedict and waffle went together so well.

Jonathan chose the bacon benedict with the hollandaise on the side, because he sometimes feels that hollandaise can be floury: however this was not the case. This dish was perfection: the bacon was cooked crispy, the eggs were perfectly over easy and the waffle (Jonathan’s did have gluten) was as light as a feather. 

My son went for the Mikado waffle (of course he did, ice cream for breakfast!), gluten free, and this was perfect for him, topped with a warm chocolate sauce. He also ordered a small side of strawberries. There was nothing left on his plate and he had a chocolate mustache, so I’m thinking he enjoyed it. 

The Nutella waffle

My daughter chose the Nutella (it’s her favorite) with a side of Chantilly and strawberries. The bird (as I affectionately call her as she eats little and often) inhaled the lot and is already looking forward to the next visit when she can make her way through the menu.

As always the service was exceptional. The atmosphere, calm and comfortable. The restaurant, cool and eclectic. If you’ve never had a Belgium waffle breakfast, go and try it. If you have had a Belgium waffle breakfast before, compare it to others. You’ll find it’s priced very well, it’s different, it’s tasty, and I’ll be visiting again for sure.

Brussels Bistro is located 222 Forest Ave. (949) 376 7955

The Scoop on scoops at an Ice Cream Social:

Moulin celebrates its first summer in Laguna


Among a muffled (well, because our mouths were full) chorus of “ohhs” and “ahhs”, Laurent Vrignaud, owner of Moulin, presents one Coupes Glacees after another to a small group of writers on his café patio. In celebration of their first summer in Laguna, Chef Jeoffrey Offer created these hand-crafted ice cream concoctions, and they are now on the menu. The Coupes Glacees are yet another element of Laurent’s time in Montmartre, Paris, that has migrated to Moulin. Lucky for us.

“Growing up in Paris, some of the most memorable moments of childhood summers were spent getting lost in the simple indulgence of a Coupe Glacee,” recalls Laurent. “These classic desserts are reflective of the café culture we embody at Moulin; providing our guests with yet another way to escape in a daydream to Paris.” 

When he was young, he tells us, his grandmother would take him to fancy cafés, and sometimes he would get his own Glacee, but most often, he would take some of hers. In Paris, he explains, it can be eaten after lunch or dinner, accompanied by a cappuccino or champagne or a Rose.

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Banana Split

We taste, and find the descriptions don’t do them justice: Banana Split -  fresh banana, split lengthwise with vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ice cream, topped with whipped cream, chocolate coulis and almond tuiles: Poire Belle Helene - poached pear with vanilla ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream & almond tuiles: Dame Blanche vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce & roasted sliced almonds: Cafe Liegeois - coffee ice cream topped with whipped cream, coffee coulis, almond tuiles, & chocolate confectionery; Boules de Glaces – choice of three scoops, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, strawberry, or exotic sherbert.

Strictly adhering to his Parisian roots (he won’t serve iced coffee because there’s no iced coffee in Paris), Laurent is clear that the Glacees must be served in glass and won’t be a to-go item. However, what will soon be a to-go item, is another new addition to the menu, a picnic lunch in a temperature controlled package, a fast and easy meal to pick up on the way to the beach.

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Poire Belle Helene

Laurent sits across the bistro table (which, along with all patio furniture, came from Parisian cafes, one under the Eiffel tower), portraying Moulin’s fare as basic Parisian café food, but it is anything but typical to Laguna patrons. 

From the crepes to the sandwiches, to the pastries, it’s all extraordinary, and now he’s introducing the French “hot dog” (house-made Toulouse sausage and Dijon mustard tucked into a fresh-baked baguette). Again, nothing standard about it. “It’s all about the bread,” he says, “that first warm bite.” Only two condiments are served; always mustard, catsup is optional. 

Laurent pauses to dip a piece of almond tuiles in the ice cream and savors it, and I imagine that he must be thinking about his childhood and the Glacees he shared with his grandmother.

On this beautiful morning, the sun melts what little is left of the Glacees, and those on the patio enjoy the passersby who stroll with dogs or children and look at us with envy. The ice cream has made me content and lazy and ready for a nap. Across from us, a couple enjoy a late breakfast of eggs, at another table, a man leisurely sips coffee and reads a newspaper, and if I didn’t know we were on Forest Ave, it could be a café in Paris. 

Compared to his Newport Beach location, which Laurent says is fast-paced with customers always on the go, Laguna Beach patrons, whether it be tourists or residents, are more mellow. And today is a good example.

Moulin is located at 248 Forest Ave, and is open daily from 6 – 9 p.m. For more information, go to:



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