Big-time fun and food at Big Fish: It’s also a great place to enjoy a big game on a big screen

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Laguna Beach’s Big Fish Tavern recently celebrated its two-year anniversary. Formally known as The House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer (kind of a mouthful), this restaurant was taken over by Jim Walker and Louis Feinstein, owners of The Bungalow in Corona Del Mar, and instead of doing a complete overhaul, they merely changed the name, renovated the menu and resurrected what had already put Big Fish firmly on the map for Laguna dining.  

The menu is still primarily seafood, with raw bar options such as poke and oysters, and features starters such as coconut shrimp and glazed calamari, seafood chowders, various lobster dishes, salads, fresh fish of the day, burgers and sandwiches and a specialties section, as well as lots of ice cold beer, yummy cocktails and a great wine selection. 

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Surprise! Even though the focus is on seafood, meat-eaters will enjoy the filet

Big Fish offers a great range of weekly specials to entice customers. Monday nights, locals can enjoy 25 percent off the menu; Tuesday they offer Taco Tuesday all night long (and the fish tacos are really good) and on Wednesday, guests get half off all bottled wine.

The restaurant itself has a comfortable local Laguna Beach feel, with a great open bar area with communal tables – and then, as you head further into the restaurant, the seating area is really well proportioned, with a semi-outdoor seating area, where on a sunny day (as on the day I recently ate there) you have the most beautiful ocean views.  

Big Fish also sports large TV screens and has a reputation for being the place to go to watch any big games in Laguna Beach. 

This place is also incredibly popular for families, as it has a very kid-friendly vibe. The offer of coloring pencils and puffer fish cartoon characters offers parents a much-needed two minutes to eat their food in peace. 

My Food Journey at Big Fish

We decided to start with a couple of appetizers from the raw bar menu. 

First was the ahi poke, consisting of ahi, onion, seaweed spicy soy, and avocado served with crispy wontons. This was delicious, very fresh and a really good-sized portion. We were splitting the dishes family style, and this was more than enough.  

We then had the oysters, blue point oysters, which came in fresh that morning from Acapulco. They were great, served with all the trimmings including a house made mignonette, horseradish and a cocktail sauce.  We also decided to add a little Laguna Beach made, and our favorite hot sauce, Magu hot sauce. Yummy.

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The oysters are great

It was then time to order the entrée courses. We ordered an array of dishes and split them so we could taste as much as possible. Our server Lily recommended we try the fish of the day, which was yellowtail. We chose to have this pan-roasted with a lemon buerre blanc sauce and kale and roasted mushroom risotto. This dish was really very good, my favorite of the night. The yellowtail was perfectly cooked as was the risotto, which I can never get right myself. It was very more-ish and just so tasty. 

We chose the kale salad to accompany our dishes: organic kale, pepitas, almonds, quinoa, parmesan and avocado tossed in a delicious lemon vinaigrette.  This salad is huge and a meal itself. It was great, and lucky for me, I was able to box some up to enjoy the day after for lunch. 

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The kale salad was delicious

Having tried a steak in the restaurant, I decided to opt for the grilled fillet mignon, cooked medium rare and served with mashed potato spinach and mushroom with a béarnaise sauce. This was a great dish and the mignon was cooked perfectly. We really enjoyed it.

We rounded our feast up by trying a dessert and naturally I chose the Crème Brulee (you all know I can’t say no) and as expected it was great, tasty and light, served with seasonal fruit. 

As far as drinks go we had a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon, which was half off as it was a Wednesday, and we shared a Big Fish lapu lapu, which I have to say was a particularly delicious lapu lapu, and very pretty to look at.

This was not my first Big Fish rodeo, I’ve visited this restaurant many times with my children to watch big games and I’ve always really enjoyed the food. The jambalaya is 10/10 as are their famous fish and chips, which are breaded and prepared in-house every morning.  

It’s a great place to take the family and the staff are always so gracious, knowledgeable and friendly.

Big Fish is located 540 S Coast Hwy #200; (949) 715-4500 www.bigfishtavernlaguna.com

Kya

 

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