With Asada reopening, and Reunion Kitchen to follow, the McIntoshes are happily back in the news again

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

In late 2013, Scott and Rosemary McIntosh closed Asada on Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, and moved on to other adventures in Anaheim Hills, opening Reunion Kitchen there. 

Reunion Kitchen has taken Anaheim by storm and has been so successful that the couple decided to expand Reunion Kitchen to Laguna Beach as well. The restaurant is due to open in approximately a month’s time in the Pavilions Shopping Center, next to Gina’s Pizza and Jan’s Health Bar. 

While working on Reunion, another space became available in the unit, previously occupied by Senor Fish. Scott jumped on this as an opportunity to reopen his beloved Asada, and both he and his wife Rosemary could not be happier to be bringing this iconic restaurant back to Laguna. 

The same can be said for their employees, many of whom moved with them when they left Laguna Beach. All are happy to split their time between the two Reunion Kitchens and Asada. 

The new Asada is a smaller venue than its previous one, but by no means any less luxurious. The décor is best described as contemporary continental with ample seating both inside and out. 

Guests order their food at the counter, then take a seat at a able where they are given full table service. Asada also offers a takeout service, with allocated pick up spots.

Sadly I didn’t get to meet Scott on my visit, but his wonderful wife Rosemary was on hand to guide me through the menu.

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As summer draws to a close, this watermelon cooler promised to be another great memory

I liked Rosemary immediately when she went through the drinks menu with my friends and me! We indulged in various tastings, including a local margarita; a spicy Michelada, which contains a Siracha mix; a delicious watermelon cooler, made with freshly squeezed watermelon puree; and of course the famous Asada Sangria. All were fantastic and in different circumstances, that is, if I didn’t have a pen in hand for a restaurant report, I could have easily stayed there and sampled more!

My food journey at Asada

We started with a series of appetizers, referred to as primero on the Asada menu. 

To begin, we chose the bacon wrapped jalapenos. This is a dish I make quite often at home as snacks and I think mine are pretty good – however, these were really great. The jalapenos were soft, spicy and tasty, and the bacon that wrapped them was cooked to perfection.

Alongside this we had the grilled Tijuana beef jerky, served with Asada’s homemade guacamole. I was not a beef jerky fan – but now I am! This dish was very tasty. The jerky pulled apart easily. The guacamole was deliciously creamy.

Rosemary recommended we try their Asada chicken taquitos, which were a firm favorite with Asada regulars. These were great, not greasy, light in texture and perfect!

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Creamy, tasty chipotle shrimp made for a great starter

We ended our choice of appetizers with perfectly cooked shrimp in a rich creamy chipotle sauce.

To accompany all of our dishes we were served with warm homemade chips and a selection of premium salsas, signature ranchero, chipotle cream, habanero diablo, pico de gallo and poblana taco sauce. All the sauces were amazing, created using original secret recipes passed down through generations. Then It was time to move onto the entrees.  

We chose a short-rib burrito, served wet on a giant tortilla with black or refried beans, cilantro buttered rice, jack cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and queso fresco. This was a huge serving, and so good. My son was particularly happy when he discovered that I would be boxing up the leftovers for his lunch the following day.

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Something different: a short-rib burrito that was on the long side!

Rosemary was keen on me trying the crispy tacos, so we selected a carnitas version, served with poblano cream, lettuce, jack cheese, pico de gallo and cojita.  Again, the food was really excellent, and the portion sizes not too overwhelming.

To end the entrée selection we went for the blackened fish tacos and chose the mahi mahi. This was very good, and serving them with the mango relish, brought the dish’s rating to a 10.

By now our tummies were full, but ever the trouper that I am, I managed to make some room for dessert.

Rosemary bought us some churros bites, delicious, perfectly sized pieces of naughtiness that were not too sweet, not at all greasy, and light in texture.

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Churro bites were perfectly sized for a sweet sensation

The best part to me was the flan butter cake, which was melt-in-your-mouth, with a consistency reminiscent of a pannacotta. It was outstanding.

Every bite of this dinner was perfect. It is evident that Scott and Rosemary leave no stone unturned when it comes to opening a restaurant. Everything was running smoothly, and considering they have only been open a week, the place was surprisingly consistently busy – though perhaps not surprisingly at all, given Asada’s great reputation.

It’s not only these guys who are happy to be back in Laguna. I’m happy to have them here too. I will definitely be visiting Asada again and again.


 Any way you slice it, we have great pizza in Laguna

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

This week’s restaurant report is one with a bit of a twist. With summer coming to a close, I thought I would concentrate on one food group that I am sure 90 percent of people in Laguna Beach have tried over this endless summer period. Pizza!

There are numerous restaurants that offer great pizza in Laguna Beach, but for the purposes of this article I decided to concentrate on take-out pizza establishments.

There were two ideal people I could take with me on this food journey and they were my son Jesse, aka the bottomless pit, and his food-loving friend Vincent, who, with his Italian roots, really knows his pizza. 

Our journey began at zpizza….

zpizza was founded in Laguna Beach and is a true Laguna original, located at 30822 Coast Highway. Their dough is made from non-GMO wheat flour prepared fresh every day, hand-thrown and fire-baked until uniquely crisp. They pride themselves in quality ingredients including award-winning skim mozzarella from Wisconsin, certified organic tomato sauce, MSG-free pepperoni, additive-free sausage, and fresh produce. 

zpizza also prides itself on its gluten-free and vegan options.

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zpizza: last in the alphabet, but Laura’s number one place for slices

zpizza has pizza available by the slice over the counter at an incredibly reasonable $3.25 including tax per slice. There were two “by the slice” pizza options available: the tomato and basil, and the pepperoni. The boys chose one of each.  The pizza base on this was perfect, fairly thin. The tomato sauce was rich and the right amount.  

The cheese was on the light side (which I prefer), however the topping, in this case the pepperoni, was fully loaded.  It was a delicious slice of pizza, very fresh, and because of the non-heavy cheese did not feel “unhealthy.” 

For people who don’t want to indulge in pizza, zpizza also offers a wider menu with options of salads, sandwiches and shareable plates.

Domino’s

Domino’s Pizza was the largest of the “chain stores” we visited for our report.  Established in 1960 as a single pizza delivery service, it now has 9,000 stores in more than 60 countries. Its Laguna Beach location is 1100 S Coast Hwy Suite 205.

Domino’s does not offer a per-slice option. And unlike the other places we visited, it does not have a sit down restaurant area. It’s only a takeout service. So we ordered a small pizza, half cheese and half “meatzza.” 

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Domino’s: Dominant in number of stores nationally, and abundant in cheese

The meatzza is a carnivore’s dream: pepperoni, sausage, beef, ham, sliced Italian sausage, salami, onions and extra cheese adorn the base. The pizza was $7.43 with tax and for the number of toppings was an incredibly good value. 

The pizza itself was nice, however the cheese was pretty heavy, and on the meatzza, the oil from the salami and the other meats made it slightly greasy. Lots of napkins were required. The boys only had one piece each. 

Domino’s offers an extensive menu including sandwiches, pasta, sharing plates, chicken wings and desserts. It also caters for gluten free options and vegetarian. However, there are no vegan options. 

Pizza Bar

Interestingly enough, Pizza Bar is the only pizza establishment I had not tried before this report. Located at 397 S. Coast Hwy, it is a restaurant as well as a takeout and delivery establishment.

What really impressed us was the huge variety of pizza slices. There were 10 available for us to choose from. The cost per slice was $5.50 including tax. The boys chose a BBQ chicken slice and a Supreme; the Supreme was topped with pepperoni, mushroom, bell peppers, olives, onion and bacon. 

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Pizza Bar is the best, bar none, for the sheer variety of sliced pizza

The pizza base was really tasty and thin crust. The tomato sauce was delicious but not as thick as on the slices at previous places we had visited. The toppings were plentiful and the cheese was light.  

The slices were a little small, but the staff recognized this and gave us extra to compensate. The menu is extensive. The Pizza Bar offers a varied selection of appetizers, pasta, salads, ciabatta sandwiches, wraps, gyros, desserts and gelato.

They also offer fruit smoothies and ice-blended coffees. The boys and I agreed that this place was well worth another visit and a further exploration of the menu.

Gina’s

Our pizza journey ended at Gina’s. Gina’s has been established in Laguna Beach since 1975 and is a firm favorite within the local community. 

Gina’s does offer a by-the-slice option. However, do not expect to walk in and walk out quickly. Gina’s prides itself in preparing each slice of pizza individually, ensuring that it is fresh every time. The menu says it may take up to 10 minutes to get your order. It did take longer than this for us, though, as it was very busy.

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Gina’s: “the bottomless pit’s” favorite place for sliced pizza

The boys chose a slice of “Godfather” pepperoni, including Italian sausage, crisp bacon, meatballs, pastrami, roasted garlic topped with mozzarella, and a Margherita pizza, consisting of roasted garlic aioli, fresh Roma tomatoes, and fresh basil topped with mozzarella.

Pizza by the slice starts at $3.49, with an additional charge of 69 cents per topping.

The pizza slices were huge. The base was great, tasty not too thin, not too deep.  The tomato sauce was rich and tasty and the toppings plentiful. The pizza was very heavy on the cheese – for me, it was practically like another crust, but the boys loved it.

In conclusion

We are so lucky to have such a great variety of pizza establishments in Laguna Beach, all varying in price, but all offering something different. We enjoyed them all.

My personal favorite was zpizza, I like the ingredients they use and the variety of their pizza toppings. I also really enjoy their gluten free pizza base. My son’s friend Vincent agreed with my choice. 

My son, “the bottomless pit,” however, is a Gina’s boy. For him there is an association with running from the beach after surfing to grab a slice before going home, so I knew before we had even started this report that it would be his favorite. 

But in short, there are enough options in town to satisfy just about anybody.


At The Deck, the sky and the ocean are almost always bright blue; the view is great, and yes, the food is too

Story by LAURA BUCKLE

Photos by Shaena Stabler

This week’s restaurant report took me to The Deck, one of Laguna’s favorite beachfront restaurants. With its beautiful patio, cool vibe and private cabanas for hire, it is popular with locals and tourists alike and has been a firm fixture in Laguna Beach since its 2014 opening under the watchful eye of Chef Rainer Schwarz. 

Since moving to the United States, Schwarz has opened dining concepts in Colorado and Los Angeles, including Cienega and Public Kitchen & Bar. After the launch of The Deck and Driftwood Kitchen as part of his Sentinel Development Group in 2014, the restaurants were immediately hailed for their commitment to local ingredients, inventive menus, and visually stunning dishes.

Rainer was born in Austria and began his culinary training there at age 15. After his apprenticeship, he traveled widely, working in five-star hotels and restaurants in Switzerland, Germany, and France. 

While serving as Chef de Cuisine at the Grand National Hotel in Lucerne, Switzerland, he met Chef Joachim Splichal, who would later act as his mentor. He left Europe to work with Splichal at Highland Inn in Carmel, and later at the famed restaurants Patina and Pinot in Los Angeles.

For this week’s report, I decided to concentrate on a lunchtime menu as I feel that evening menus have dominated my reports so far. I brought along Shaena Stabler from Stu News and Monica Silva, development director for KX 93.5, Laguna Beach’s only FM radio station. It was a truly beautiful afternoon, blue skies, blue sparkly ocean and a little quieter than previous weeks, with summer coming to an end for many people.

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Our server, Sarah, positioned us in a beautiful spot, overlooking the sand, tucked away for privacy. She explained the menu to us thoroughly and throughout the meal was very attentive and friendly.

My Food Journey at The Deck

To begin we chose the oysters. The Deck sources oysters all year round, depending on “the best location” at the time, and every time I have visited The Deck, they have never disappointed me. Served with grated horseradish, mignonette, and lemon with a small bottle of Tabasco sauce, this is a great, tasty start to ocean dining.

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From here we decided to stick with the shellfish theme and try the Baja Rockin’ lobster quesadilla. This can be found on the Small Share Plates section of the menu and consists of fresh lobster wrapped in a quesadilla accompanied by Oxaca cheese, fresh tomato relish and guajillo aioli.  

The lobster was cooked to perfection, not chewy in the slightest, and even though served with cheese, the quesadilla didn’t end up with the soggy greasy texture that can often be a result. It was a great dish to share.

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There are five delicious salads to choose from and we decided to go for the Tuscan Kale Salad, served with 18-month mature parmigiano reggiano, dried cherries (in season now) toasted almonds and garlic croutons. It was tasty and even though the ingredients were very simple compared to the other salads, the dish was substantial enough to have as an entree.

Moving away from the seafood for a little while, we ordered the Beach Burger from the sandwiches menu. This was accompanied with aged Vermont cheddar, Nueske bacon, and vine ripe tomato chipotle, served on a delicious brioche bun. This was cooked medium and it was perfect. Every flavor worked together, even down to the tasty sweetness of the brioche bun.

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From the entrée menu, we actually allowed the chef to recommend a fish dish for us to share. We wanted to taste something seasonal. We were presented with the Texas Gulf Red Fish, served with crushed purple majestic potatoes and a fresh mussel and saffron broth. 

This dish was exquisite. The fish flaked apart, and the purple potatoes were so creamy that I was convinced they had been buttered and creamed. However Chef Reiner told me that they were Hawaiian potatoes, so starchy that cream or butter doesn’t need to be used. This dish was really great and I was reluctant to share it with my guests.

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We didn’t have a dessert this time as we were pretty full. Shaena and I went for a cocktail. Monica chose a California cooler consisting of Hendricks Gin, cucumber, jalapeno pepper, lime sour, ginger beer and fresh mint. She reluctantly let me taste it (for reporting purposes only ha, ha!) and it was great. I chose the skinny margarita (my favorite), which was perfect, not heavy on agave, and it went down very well indeed.

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My overall experience of The Deck was really great. The food was fresh, the menu seasonal and if you want recommendations, just ask – the staff are so knowledgeable. The location of this place really is magical and I can totally understand why this is one of the most desirable dining destinations in Laguna Beach.  

I’ll be back.


Dizz’s As Is is as good as it was, and it is likely always to be one of Laguna’s favorite dining destinations

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Originally owned by an eclectic flamboyant couple in the 1970’s, the restaurant couldn’t help but be called Dizz’s, given their love of life, parties and hallucinogenic drugs. When the Pitz family took the restaurant on a couple of years later, they toyed with the idea of changing the name and the 1920’s inspired décor, which included pink walls, a European style bar area, and old-fashioned drapery, not to mention images of long-ago movie stars. However, the consensus amongst the locals was to keep it “as is.”  And so the place we all know and love “Dizz’s as is” was born, and every Lagunan I have met since moving here knows its name.

Sadly this year, Dizz’s suffered a devastating loss as manager Marc Pitz passed away on Feb. 15 at the age of 51 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Marc managed the Pitz family restaurant for the duration of his working career. He was adored by staff and customers alike.

Marc’s death was a devastating blow to the Laguna Beach community. And over this past few months, the Pitz family has worked hard to keep the restaurant “as is,” which has been hard without Marc.

Dominic Pitz, Marc’s brother, now manages Dizz’s along with the rest of the Pitz family. And it’s truly wonderful to see how the family has pulled together and kept Dizz’s traditions alive.

Dominic tells me that having the restaurant to concentrate on over these past difficult months has been therapy for the whole family and has kept them going through the dark days.

My food journey

Dizz’s may have remained the same for 37 years, décor wise. But the menu changes every day. Grandpapa Pitz has so many recipes that the restaurant can offer something for everyone. Upon arrival we were presented with our own individual selection of dishes. My guest and I were encouraged to swap and discuss our preferences. 

My journey began with delicious Vermouth, which Dominic gave us to cleanse our palates.

He then brought us a honey ginger and shrimp dish, which was absolutely yummy, and accompanied by tasty sourdough bread, which is locally sourced from a bakery in the Canyon.

Around this time, Dominic also presented us with Dizz’s famous pate, served once again with delicious toasted sourdough. The pate was light, creamy and really tasty.

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The pate was perfect, especially with delicious sourdough bread

After this it was time to choose an appetizer. I selected a spinach salad and my guest decided on French onion soup. The spinach salad was fresh, nicely crisp, dressed with nothing more than oil salt and pepper and topped with croutons.

The French onion soup was excellent, the Gruyere cheese perfectly melted. 

Next was the main course. I chose the Swordfish Madagascar, which is seared and baked, and topped with cream, cognac, Dijon mustard and green peppercorn sauce. The dish was served with mustard vegetables and rice. It was incredible, wonderfully cooked, and the fish melted in my mouth.  

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The spinach salad was delightfully crisp

My guest chose the Steak Béarnaise, which was “to die for,” served with vegetables and whipped potatoes. The red wine béarnaise sauce was very rich, therefore the simplicity of the side dishes made a great contrast. The steak was cooked to perfection.

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly eat dessert, Dominic presented me with a big slice of Dizz’s famous Belgium whipped cream pie, which was insanely good. Always served with strawberries, this dish consists of almond sugar, whipped cream and lashings of fruit. I couldn’t finish it, but it was certainly the best dessert I’ve had for a long time.

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The Belgium whipped cream pie was dazzling to look at and insanely good

My experience at Dizz’s was just that, an experience. I loved the quirky magical atmosphere and the rich eclectic décor. I felt that if the walls could talk, Dizz’s walls would be full of stories.

Though Dizz’s has had tough times over the past 12 months, my evening there proved to me that Dizz’s is almost certainly ‘as is, as it was and as it will forever be’: deservedly a favorite dining destination for Lagunans.


Smoothies/sandwiches taste great at Jan’s Health Bar

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

Jan’s Health Bar was established in 1972 in Huntington Beach, operating out of the back of George’s Surf Shop. Soon Jan Gaffney’s smoothies and sandwiches became a ritual for the surf community, Huntington Beach residents and customers beyond the city’s borders. In fact, my good friend Katie used to cycle from Long Beach to Huntington just so that she could have their ‘world class sandwiches.’ 

20 years after Jan’s opened, Poppy Holguin, a sophomore at Huntington Beach High School, started her first job there. Later she went on to manage and eventually own Jan’s Health Bar in Huntington, before opening at another location in Costa Mesa.

On July 11 this year, Jan’s Heath Bar opened in Laguna Beach, the lure of our wonderful beach town proving irresistible. 

Jan’s Health Bar always uses fresh, locally sourced (when available) ingredients and makes sure that every item on their menu contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Their philosophy is moderation, not deprivation. The company believes that if you want to have a side of chips, a scoop of ice cream in your smoothie or even on a cookie, you should indulge. But the one thing they guarantee is that the items they have on their menu are in their purest form with the most natural ingredients. 

My food journey at Jan’s Health Bar

It’s summer! And my children are constantly in the water, therefore always super-hungry, as you may remember from last week’s article about my “bottomless pit” child, otherwise known as my son Jesse. 

This week it was my daughter and her friends, plus another adult, whose turn it was to fill up.

This task was perfect for Miss Lula, as I affectionately call her my Fruit Bat – as you have probably guessed by now, I have many pet names for my children, depending on their behavior. 

There is one thing that Jan’s has a lot of, and that is fruit and veggies…!

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The fruit at Jan’s will bowl you over

Jan’s is a cool, funky contemporary space located in the Pavilions shopping center in north Laguna. Its clean minimal lines with an injection of color on the logos and the menus appeal to the eye and to the youth. Another bonus: its location offers a great outdoor space, shared with Gina’s Pizza. 

The children, desperate for food after a long day in the ocean, (tough life for these Laguna Beach kids), really wanted to try the smoothies. With more than 10 smoothies to choose from, all three girls decided to choose a different one so that they could sample several.

Between them, they went for a “Cool Strawberry,” a “Sunshine Berry” and a ‘Pure Dragon.” Cool Strawberry consisted of strawberry, pineapple, banana and coconut juice. Sunshine Berry contained strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, banana and raspberry juice. Pure Dragon was made of pitaya, raspberry strawberry, mango banana and apple juice.

I tasted each and they were all delicious, super fresh and cold, and the colors were vivid.  Suffice to say these went down pretty quickly.

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The girls sip delicious cold, refreshing smoothies

My friend and I decided to opt for the sandwiches. Jan’s Health Bar is one of the few restaurants I have visited that has the option of gluten free bread.  Most places in Laguna have a gluten free menu, but to get a “sandwich” is often pretty difficult.

We chose the chicken salad and the tuna sandwich and added avocado to both.

These sandwiches were absolutely delicious, packed with cucumber, lettuce, tomato, soy bacon bits, sprouts, spike seasoning, mayonnaise (or vegannaise if you so wish) and mustard. The sandwiches both came with a fresh fruit pot that consisted of berries, melon and banana. 

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Gluten free sandwiches are hard to come by, and these were tasty!

The girls then chose the famous “amaze bowls.” The Berry Blast contained strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry yoghurt topped with granola, bananas, strawberry, bee pollen and agave. The ABC bowl consisted of acai, strawberries, cacao, almond butter, banana, almond milk topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries, agave and cacao chips.

Both of these bowls were fantastic, packed with flavor and large enough for us to take some home.

The adults selected the avocado toast to share, a big favorite of mine, served on gluten free bread and a fruit pot. This is my perfect go-to lunch/brunch and is very reasonably priced at $6.95.

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The avocado toast proved to be a great value and wonderfully good to eat

My overall impression of Jan’s Health Bar was nothing but positive. It’s a great place to pick up a healthy snack in Laguna and a wonderful venue to take children after a busy day on the beach. The patio area is enclosed so it is very safe for young children, and the menu is extensive enough to cater for the whole family.  

Alison, the manager, was warm and welcoming with fabulous recommendations.  The avocado toast is phenomenal, and since writing this article I have already been back for more.


New upscale downtown eatery, the Laguna Beach Brewery and Grille, more than meets expectations

Story and photos by LAURA BUCKLE

When Jim and Kathy Smith agreed to help a friend become a restaurateur, they had no idea that due to a variety of circumstances, they would become owners of Laguna Beach Brewery and Grille, formerly Ocean Avenue Brewery.

Luckily for them, Giovanni Labile and Tiquio Serratos, both former Ocean Avenue employees, stepped up to the challenge and recently they all opened Laguna Beach Brewery and Grille, a new upscale Mexican eatery.

Giovanni, who originally hails from Italy, has been in Laguna Beach for 10 years. He began working at Ocean Avenue under its original owners. He progressed in the industry quickly, becoming bar manager within six months. Prior to Ocean Avenue Brewery being sold to Jim and Kathy Smith, Giovanni was head of operations. Needless to say, he knows the premises and its regulars inside out. 

A dream comes true

He also knew that the bar needed to change. Fortunately, Tiquio Serratas, originally from Guadalajara, was on hand. 

Tiquio has been working in the restaurant industry since he was 15 years old, and like Giovanni, was an employee at Ocean Brewery, in his case from 1999 to 2007. He started waiting tables and eventually became the bar manager.  

From there he moved to Javier’s, where he managed and developed the bar and its menu. He then moved to La Vida Cantrine in Costa Mesa, where he single-handedly developed the food and drink menu. He used his Guadalajaran knowledge of food and his Californian understanding of restaurant standards, and combined the two to create something unique.

Giovanni and Tiquio wanted to create a unique Mexican restaurant in Laguna Beach. Their aim was to design a cool contemporary space with fresh farm-to-table authentic food. They also wanted to feature local breweries, wines and spirits, thus creating an environment where locals would like to hang out and which tourists would be keen to visit. 

Chef Gulielmo Sandoval (known as Memo), formerly an executive chef at the Hilton in Baja, joined the team and together the three of them have created their dream.

My Food Journey at Laguna Beach Brewery and Grille

This week’s guest was my super fussy non-Mexican food loving 10-year-old Lula. In a desperate attempt to encourage her to “try new things” and “embrace Mexican food” I thought this food report might do the trick.

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Lula discovers the charms of Mexican food and the Laguna Beach Brewery and Grille in particular

To begin with we had the ceviche, always a favorite of mine, never tried by Lula. This was delicious, very light, crisp salad, tender crab and shrimp, served with a lightly whipped avocado mousse. The addition of mango to the ceviche was really wonderful as it cuts through the acidity of the lime. 

Lula loved this dish, especially using the homemade tortilla chips to scoop it up.

In addition to this we ordered a side of guacamole, which was smooth, which I normally wouldn’t order as I love the crunch, but it was tasty and creamy.

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Mango enhances the flavor of the ceviche

It was about that time that I felt it only right to order a cocktail. I ordered an “El Chapo” Desmadre premium blanco tequila, limejuice, muddled orange, agave nectar with a tajin rim. I loved how they served this cocktail: flambéing a pepper on the top, and then extinguishing the flame by pushing the pepper down into the glass, thus releasing the spicy flavor into the cocktail.

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Note the red pepper: an unusual element that added nuance

Next up was the octopus and shrimp ajillo. Al ajillo is a condiment in Mexican food that means combining guajillo and ajo (garlic). The octopus and shrimp were beautifully cooked, tender, not rubbery whatsoever. The sauce was rich and the bread accompaniment fresh. It was delicious. Lula pulled her face at the thought of eating octopus (as many 10-year-olds do) but she demolished this particular dish.

I was ready then to order the entrée. Having tried a variety of seafood dishes, I decided to go for the Norteno Grill Faja Rib Eye. This was a huge dish and was fantastic. I always choose medium rare with my steaks and this was cooked to perfection. The dish was served with rice, melted cheese and chorizo, corn cobb, grilled cactus, bone marrow and guajillo mole.

I was amazed that Lula tried everything on this plate, including the bone marrow, and loved it! There were many flavors but they all complemented each other and worked well together.  All I can say is thank heavens for a “doggy bag” so that we could take a lot of this dish home with us. 

We ate every last scrap and then gave my dogs the bone, which they loved.

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The presentation was wonderful and the rib eye was perfection

Time for dessert. I allowed Miss Lula to choose this course. She selected the Noche Romantica - a chocolate flan, with burned marshmallow served with Bailey’s Cream and fresh raspberries.  Needless to say this went down very nicely. The flan was beautifully cooked and there was just enough for our very full tummies to handle.

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We were definitely fans of the flan

Laguna Beach Brewery and Grille impressed me above and beyond my expectations. The servers were knowledgeable, and Giovanni and Tiquio were gracious, enthusiastic and clearly focused on what they wanted for this restaurant. They are listening to what customers, in particular “local customers” want, and the addition of a fabulous “Taco Tuesday” menu has been very well received.

It was wonderful to meet Jim and Kathy Smith and to see how much they are enjoying their restaurant journey.

If Laguna Beach Brewery and Grille keep this level of food and customer service this high, I see great things for them in the future. Miss Lula and I will definitely be back!

237 Ocean Ave – 497-3381

Kya

 

Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

Lynette Brasfield is our Managing Editor.

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Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

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