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Sapphire Laguna named premier underwriting sponsor of Taste of Laguna this Thursday

Chef Azmin Ghahreman, Chef of Sapphire Laguna, has announced that he will come on board as Premier Underwriting Sponsor of the 2018 Taste of Laguna to be held this Thursday, Oct 18, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Laguna Beach’s Festival of Arts Grounds. 

Sapphire Laguna naned Chef Azmin

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Chef Azmin of Sapphire Laguna will lead the way at this Thursday’s Taste of Laguna 

Sapphire Culinary Group’s Sapphire Laguna, Sapphire Pantry, and Sapphire Catering will lead more than 30 local restaurants at this year’s open-air event with music and fun under the stars. More than 700 culinary enthusiasts are expected to attend this event to partake in the city’s best locally sourced, artisan influenced, internationally inspired, gluten-free or farm fresh dishes. The event will also showcase wineries, craft breweries, and master mixologists to ensure that guests are given a well-rounded culinary experience.

“From the people, to the landscape, we can’t think of a more beautiful community to be a part of than Laguna Beach, which has been home to Sapphire Laguna for more than a decade. Since its inception, Sapphire Culinary Group has grown to also include Sapphire Pantry, Sapphire Catering, Sapphire at School, and Sapphire at Work, so it only makes sense for us to lead Taste of Laguna as Premier Underwriting Sponsor,” said Chef Azmin Ghahreman. “It’s one of our favorite nights of the year and we are proud to partner with the Laguna Beach Chamber for this exciting event!”

Sapphire Laguna named table

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Over 30 local restaurants will feature tasty food on Thursday

Terra Laguna will host a “Meet the Chef” VIP Reception at 5:30 p.m. at its beautifully remodeled restaurant located on the Festival Grounds and is generously donating the bar proceeds to the Laguna Beach Chamber. The Vintage VW Photo Booth Bus will be back, courtesy of 14 West Boutique Hotel, and the festivities will continue late night at the Taste of Laguna After Hours Party, hosted by Royal Hawaiian. Live DJ entertainment for the evening is sponsored by KX 93.5, and will feature live Music by Ken Garcia Band. The official event photographer is Tony Florez Photography.

“Taste of Laguna continues to evolve and impress,” said Meredith Dowling, Executive Director of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. “We are dedicated to seeing local business thrive, and promoting the culinary talent and creativity we have here in Laguna Beach to over 1,000 foodie fans from Orange County and beyond, is a fun and rewarding way to achieve that goal!”

Sapphire Laguna named food

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Tommy Bahama will serve delicious bites on Thursday

Enjoy selections from favorite local Laguna Beach spots, including Jan’s Health Bar, K’ya, Kitchen in the Canyon, Laguna Beach Beer Company, Las Brisas, Lumberyard, Mozambique, Nick’s, Okura Sushi, ​Reunion Kitchen & Drink, Rooftop, Sapphire, ​Sergio’s Empanadas, Skyloft, ​Slice Pizza, South of Nick’s, Starfish Laguna, Terra Laguna Beach, The Cliff, The Grove on Forest, Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, Ti Amo by il Barone, Tommy Bahama, Watermarc, and Whole Foods.

For more information and tickets, go to www.tasteoflagunabeach.com or call (949) 494-1018. VIP tickets are $150 and include admission to the VIP Reception at Terra Laguna, parking, admission to the After Hours Party, a drink ticket for the cash bar, raffle tickets, and a fun swag bag and lunch cooler. General admission tickets are $85 and include one raffle ticket, a fun lunch cooler, and entry to the event at 6 p.m. General Admission ticket holders can purchase admission to the After Hours Party separately for $15 on Eventbrite.


Chef Craig Strong opens Ocean at Main today

Story and Photos by DIANE ARMITAGE

When Chef Craig Strong left his immaculate Montage-based restaurant, Studio, to start his own restaurant in Laguna Beach, the news was something akin to Moses coming down from the Mount.

As much as we’ve all loved Craig Strong in our community, few of us regularly visited Studio or felt comfortable just “dropping in” to the bar, despite the pains he took to lure locals. When he announced plans to take over the old Taverna space at 222 Ocean Avenue, we rejoiced in the streets… and then (admittedly) worried amongst ourselves about what his rumored menu and pricing would be.

On Tuesday, Chef Craig invited media in for a dining preview. He’s opening today, October 5 to the masses, and plans for lunch and dinner seven days a week. (Ah, the joys of inheriting a Chef who grew up in the hotel and resort business.)

After one of the most generous and well-prepared previews I can remember, I can assure you of the following:

Chef Craig interior

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Interior designed by Laurie Alter of Tuvalu

This is still immaculate food from one of the most notable chefs in Southern California – not quite as “tweezered” as you would find in his former fine dining French establishment, attributed to his desire to offer “fine dining in a casual dining environment.” Every dish I tried (and coveted at nearby tables) is beautiful, fresh and creative.

The pricing is going to make you want to cry a little – Ocean at Main’s lunch menu is very reasonably priced with most entrées falling between $14 and $18. The dinner menu is still generous in pricing with just two entrée items priced above $40. In other words, this is stellar food in the “sweet spot” norm of menu pricing at what we consider the better restaurants in Laguna Beach.

The interior and patio are warmer now, thanks to Tuvalu’s Laurie Alter (also responsible for The Ranch Laguna Beach decor).

Resident Mixologist Ryan Perez is a cheerful greeter. His energy, along with his self-created infusions and fresh juice add-ins remind me of Adam, our former Sapphire star (small sob but we’re carrying on).

Chef Craig ahi

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Ahi Tartine

The front of house runs like clockwork, which is near miraculous given this is the first test trial in service, but the new General Manager Dylan has worked with Michael Mina’s Group as well as with Chef at Studio, so clockwork is the only name of the game. (That being said, when all hell breaks loose on Friday with the community descending, please remember to grant this newbie restaurant a break or two before running to Yelp. I’m not sure that this restaurant will get to experience a soft roll-out given the happy expectation in the area, so please offer “wrinkle forgiveness” while they get their feet under them.)

Servers are friendly and very well-versed in the menu, too. I took my good buddy Ali North, from Surf & Sand Resort with me, and our server, Isaiah Paje, treated us like gold. We followed his suggestions to the letter, expecting bite samples to arrive and, instead, were faced with gorgeous, full-size renditions of the menu items.

Chef Craig blossoms

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Squash Blossom Tempura 

The Squash Blossom Tempura was our first choice, and it arrived with a Cod Brandade. Brandade is the French name for this whipped salt cod spread (originally Mediterranean roots, I believe). It is served up cold (preferred), and we used the blossoms as scoops or chips for the fluffy spread.

The Charred Spanish Octopus is a work of art, nestled in with Cauliflower Ratatouille and adorned with none other than Carnival Amaranth (if you don’t know what that is, ask Ruben Flores on his Saturday Garden Walk.)

We pass on the large selection of salads and wood-fired pizzas to try the lighter dishes (heh) – a Dungeness Crab Cavatelli, a “PLT” Sandwich (Grilled Pork Belly) and, finally, Beef Tournedos.

Isaiah explains that Chef Daniel is in charge of creating all the pastas from scratch, and when the Cavatelli arrives, we’re expecting a heavy, rich dish. Instead, the Cavatelli (often referred to as mini hot dog buns in shape) is light and airy, pairing beautifully with a delicate lemon and Sungold tomato sauce.

Chef Craig crab

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Dungeness Crab Cavatelli

The Beef Tournedos (pronounced turn-a-doughs) is a large dish with three generous seared filets that are so tender, they can only be aged beef. A slightly crunchy, nutty depth adds balance to the rich meat by way of Roasted Sunchokes (often referred to as Jerusalem artichokes) and Maitake mushrooms (my favorite French chef in Las Vegas calls them by their nickname, “hen of the woods”). Dollops of classic Bordelaise and raspberry finish the dish to perfection.

Our undoing, though, is the PLT. Unlike its flowered, gorgeous counterparts, the PLT waddles to our table with no apology. It is a sizable sandwich, stuffed to the brim with beautifully seared pork belly slices and sliver-thin slices of what looks to be beefsteak tomato, serrano chiles, radishes and what can only be house-made pickles. A polite leaf of butter lettuce keeps this rowdy crowd safely nested. Expecting a crusty sort of bread to battle a bite into, the PLT’s bread is so soft and fluffy that it almost brings tears to your eyes. We were SO full…but we just couldn’t stop eating this sandwich.

Chef Craig Pork

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“PLT” Sandwich – Grilled Pork Belly

We repeatedly turned down dessert, though, for the record, the Whipped Coconut Custard is vegan. Rather than going the traditional custard route with an abundance of eggs, butter and cream, this version is made with coconut milk and Iota Carrageenan, actually a seaweed that is commonly used as an emulsifier, stabilizer and thickener in various dishes. And, Chef Craig’s Spice Cake was the same he offered guests as gifts when they departed Studio.

True to Chef’s form, we were presented with our own parting gift, too – three freshly baked, soft cookies, bagged and ribboned for the occasion.

From the first greeting to that final bag of cookies, Ocean at Main is a class act. This time around, though, I suspect we’re all going to get to know the more down-to-earth side of Chef Craig, who’s made it very clear that Laguna is his home.

Ocean at Main is located at 222 Ocean Ave.

For more information, call (949) 715-3870.

Diane Armitage is the best-selling author of the book, The Best of Laguna Beach, and offers a cornucopia of Laguna based reviews, finds and upcoming events at her blog, TheBestofLagunaBeach.com.


Driftwood Kitchen and The Deck present champagne and oyster “Sip & Shuck” fundraiser Nov 4

For the 6th consecutive year, The Deck on Laguna Beach and Driftwood Kitchen, together with The Bungalows at Pacific Edge Hotel, will host “Sip & Shuck” on Sunday, Nov 4 from 2 - 6 p.m. The event will benefit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Orange County. 

Driftwood Kitchen and sunset

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Sip and Shuck will have the tasty oysters and panoramic ocean views 

Guests will have the unique opportunity to experience a variety of hand-shucked oysters, champagne, sparkling wines, spirits and more from around the world, all while enjoying panoramic ocean views from the oceanfront restaurants. 

Executive Chef Rainer Schwarz and his team will prepare delicious tastes from The Deck, Driftwood Kitchen, and Hendrix. The event will include beverages from Veuve Clicquot, Laguna Beach Beer Company, Piper Sonoma, Nicholas Freuillate, Nolet’s Gin, Bianchi Winery, Kendall Jackson, among others. 

General admission tickets for the 21-and-over event are available for purchase for $125 pre-sale or $150 for VIP early entry at 1 p.m. Admission includes oysters and other small bites, as well as access to champagne, wine, cocktail and beer sampling. 

Event attendees looking to enjoy the evening’s celebrations may take advantage of the Pacific Edge Hotel’s Sip, Shuck & Stay packages.

For more information or to purchase tickets for Sip & Shuck, visit www.sipnshuck.com

The Deck on Laguna Beach is located at 627 Sleepy Hollow Ln.


Chef Craig Strong’s new restaurant Ocean at Main opens today

Today, Friday, Oct 5, Chef Craig Strong will open Ocean at Main, fulfilling a long-time career dream to open his own restaurant. The location is exceptional – 222 Ocean Avenue near Main Beach – and the 126-seat, 4,500-square-foot eatery will open daily for lunch and dinner.

After nearly 25 years of working at luxury hotels and resorts around the globe, Strong has come full circle to his native Southern California roots with the opening of Ocean at Main. From growing up in San Diego and cooking with produce from the family garden, this chef/owner is now sharing his Coastal California cuisine with the community he has embraced for the last 10 years.

Chef Craig Strongs smile

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Chef Craig Strong’s new restaurant is close to the ocean with Coastal California Cuisine and Creative Cocktails

Chef Strong says, “I want to cook for our guests the way I cook for my family and friends at home. At Ocean at Main, I will celebrate the diversity, freshness and healthy lifestyle of Southern California. We will procure our ingredients from the local farmers and meat, seafood and specialty vendors whom I have been working and collaborating with for years. Coaxing the true flavors from exceptional products is always my goal.”

Strong has assembled a team of talented culinary and hospitality shining lights who are an important part of his restaurant dream. Dylan Cloughen will serve as general manager and key front-of-the-house guest pleaser. Kristin Morgan, a certified sommelier, will manage Ocean at Main’s 50-bottle plus wine inventory featuring California wines and global selections and is in charge of the beverage program. The pro responsible for Ocean at Main’s deeply satisfying desserts like Tainori Chocolate Torte is Pastry Chef Keara Wilson.

At dinner, the menu will begin with simply delicious temptations, perhaps Hawaiian Prawn Potato Soup or Charred Spanish Octopus with cauliflower ratatouille, carnival amaranth and parsley sauce. Then guests can choose Dungeness Crab Cavatelli, Pressed Organic Chicken, Pan Seared Pork Chops or Oxtail Kale Risotto.

Also on the menu are not-run-of-the-mill sandwiches like Grilled Pork Belly “PLT” with blistered shishito peppers and Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare Tartin. For heartier lunch lovers is a mouth-watering selection of pasta and flatbreads and main courses such as Beef Tournedos with roasted sunchokes and bordelaise.

At Ocean at Main, the desserts are hardly an afterthought. There will be Craig’s Spice Cake with cinnamon meringue and crème fraîche ice creamand Sweet Potato Panna Cotta with poached pear and more yumminess too

Chef Craig Strong's logo

The Kids Menu offers flavorful favorites like Small Mozzarella Cheese and Tomato Pizza and House Breaded Organic Chicken Tenders, but “adventurous young eaters” can order smaller portions off the regular menus.

Ocean at Main is located in the early 1940s building designed by Aubrey St. Clair that once housed the venerable Laguna Federal Savings and Loan. Guests will now enjoy the quintessential Southern California dining experience in a space re-envisioned by Laguna-based Laurie Alter of Tuvalu Home. Dining is available inside or on the intimate outdoor patio with its original fountain and murals created by Laguna Beach artist Boris Buzan.

For more information, visit www.oceanatmain.com or call (949) 715-3870.


Laguna Beach Beer Company celebrates flagship beer’s fourth year tomorrow

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Oct 3, Laguna Beach Beer Company will celebrate its flagship beer, Greeter’s Ale, turning four. The public is invited to a night of fun with live music from local favorites Andrew Corradini and Ben Wagner from 6 - 10 p.m. 

Laguna Beach Beer outside

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach Beer Company will be offering $4 Greeter’s Ale pints all day on Wednesday, Oct 3

“The Greeter’s Ale is a perfect medium bodied beer. The blend of Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade hops creates a flavorful hoppy pale ale. Named after Eiler Larsen, the Iconic “Greeter” of Laguna Beach,” explains Sales and Marketing Manager Russ Swarts. 

For more information, visit www.lagunabeer.com or call (949) 715-0805.

Laguna Beach Beer Company, located at 859 Laguna Canyon Rd, is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.


Selanne Steak Tavern wins best wine program, now a two-time category recipient 

Selanne Steak Tavern, Laguna Beach’s upscale steak house and tavern at 1464 S Coast Hwy, won the Golden Foodie Award for Best Wine Program 2018 at Orange County’s Golden Foodie Awards gala held on September 30, at the Newport Beach Marriott with over 250 guests. Master Sommelier Michael Jordan presented the award.

“Winning the Golden Foodie Award for our wine program is a great honor,” said co-owner Kevin Pratt. “Teemu Selanne and I are grateful to the Orange County community and beyond that appreciates the hospitality we offer and our impressive wine inventory curated by Advanced Sommelier Vito Pasquale to pair brilliantly with Chef Joshua Severson’s outstanding menus.”

The Best Wine Program Golden Foodies Award recognizes the restaurant whose wine list offers interesting selections that appeal to a variety of wine enthusiasts. In addition to an excellent wine program, the winner is distinguished by having a wine staff who are extremely well-versed about the restaurant’s wines and who suggest wines to guests that will work in harmony with the chef’s cuisine.

This year’s gala was presided over by celebrity master of ceremonies Simon Majumdar who was joined by special guest Neil Saavedra to hand out the awards. 

Selanne Steak Tavern Golden Foodie Awards

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Selanne Steak Tavern’s Chad Sisco and Vito Pasquale accepting their best wine program award

According to the Golden Foodie Awards committee, these awards are “a people’s choice event that recognizes the best chefs, libations and cuisine at chef-driven and independent restaurants. 

With its focus on involving the Orange County community to serve as judges through their voting, the Golden Foodie Awards serve as the highest honor and is an indication of local culinary trends and consumer preferences.” There is a two-week period for voters to cast votes recognizing their choices of outstanding restaurants in 17 categories.

Selanne Steak Tavern’s extensive wine list is known for strength in selections from California and Burgundy, France, as well as global selections from Washington, Oregon, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Portugal, Canada and Australia. Recently, this dinner destination has started serving brunch on Sundays and has enhanced its wine program by offering 11 sparkling wines by the glass at brunch – a prosecco, two brut rosés, a sparkling selection from Carneros, five non-vintage champagnes and three vintage champagnes from Perrier Jouet

Previously, Selanne Steak Tavern has garnered five Golden Foodies Awards, including Best Service Award in 2017; Best Steak Award for the restaurant’s outstanding menu execution, service and overall program in 2016; Best Wine in 2015; and Best New Restaurant and Best Steak in 2014. It has also been honored by receiving the Best of Award of Excellence distinction from Wine Spectator for the last two years.


Lost Pier Cafe: A Local’s Love Offering

Story and photos by DIANE ARMITAGE

You’re not going to believe this. I finally found a truly great cup of morning coffee in South Laguna. It’s in the uncanniest of locations: The Lost Pier Cafe. 

Right. 

I already know your question: “Lost Pier Cafe? Excuse me?” 

Correct. 

Lost Pier beach view

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Beach View

In the last few months, while we Laguna residents were bustling about our lives, Mark Christy and his friends at The Ranch Laguna Beach were quietly re-opening the beach cafe at Aliso Beach. 

They had hoped for an early summer opening but managed, at last, to fling their shutters open in mid-August. On the weekend of August 18, “The Vic” skimboard contest blew into Aliso Beach with hundreds of participants and onlookers, and our newbie Lost Pier Cafe rattled and hummed along with the best of them, dishing out a surprising variety of breakfast and lunch items that aren’t necessarily the easiest items to craft in a sandy beachside hut. 

“Fortunately, our kitchen there is a giant,” said The Ranch Director of Sales and Marketing Don Chock. “So, we were able to bring in a few more people to cook and take orders for the crowds. We were really pleased to survive the trial by fire, so to speak,” he said. 

Once Upon a Time There Was a Pier

Lost Pier Aliso Beach Pier

Courtesy of The Ranch Laguna Beach

Aliso Beach Pier

If you were around when the Yellow Umbrella snack bar was in play, you might remember that it was attached to an actual pier. Constructed initially in 1971, the Aliso Beach Pier was a true icon with a rare diamond shape. Standing 35 feet high and 660 feet long, our lovely pier served residents, fishermen and tourists well despite repeated beatings from El Nino storms in 1983, 1986 and 1997. Finally deemed unsafe and too expensive to re-create, the pier was demolished in 1999. 

Sacrifices to the Aliso Pier Gods

Just a few years ago, a new beach cafe and restrooms were added back onto the beach. Repeated attempts to operate the beach cafe to profit, however, proved as depressing as the loss of our beautiful pier. It was almost as if the gods of Aliso Beach Pier required a few sacrifices as supplication and reparation for the pier’s loss. 

And, then, Mark Christy came along. 

Mark is one of the lucky residents who, on many occasions, enjoyed the pier and its Yellow Umbrella snack bar. Despite all odds, he has demonstrated obvious love and devotion to reviving The Ranch property across the way. And, his own General Manager Kurt Bjorkman came up with the name for the cafe, Lost Pier. 

By the looks of things, it seems that the Pier Gods are, at last, mollified. 

A Breakfast Surprise

I live just down the sand from Aliso Beach, so have visited the cafe on a few occasions. It has quickly become one of my favorite enclaves with its welcoming umbrellas and ocean surf just a few yards away. It is absolute peace and serenity on weekdays. And, even with the summer crowds tucked away, the Lost Pier continues to operate from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. 

Frankly, the Lost Pier won my heart with my first cup of coffee. Not only is it a great tasting cup of coffee, but the staff adds the milk in before handing it to you. 

I’ve only seen this practice in operation at Tim Horton’s in Canada, and it brings back fond memories of actually seeking out the donut chain in Montreal and Toronto because they always pour the milk in for me, like some kind of doting mother or grandmama. 

The Lost Pier staff welcomes you like family, too. They are warm, energetic souls with a complete understanding of a somewhat complicated menu that is a far cry above the common fare of hot dogs, fries and chocolate-dipped frozen bananas. 

It helps that The Ranch Chef Kyle St. John has been involved in the Lost Pier’s menu development, and that his own cooking staff can support the cafe’s own kitchen. While some menu items may sound similar to what’s offered on the Harvest Restaurant menu, these beachside items have been tweaked in a beautiful way for this sunny, outdoor clime. 

Big Breakfast Items for Beach-Going Appetites

Lost Pier paper bag beignets

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Paper Bag Beignets

Paper Bag Beignets show up warm from the oven and rolled in at least a half-pound of happy powdered sugar. They are melt-in-your-mouth goodness. A giant Egg Sandwich boasts sausage and gooey cheese.

Lost Pier breakfast burrito

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Breakfast Burrito

And, while my weekly Breakfast Burrito at Harvest Restaurant is one of my all-time favorites, the same-named burrito at Lost Pier may be one-upping its older sister with thick chunks of smoked bacon liberally rolled in with the eggs and potatoes – absolute heaven. Avocado Toast, Chilaquiles and Granola & Yogurt round out vegetarian offerings, too. 

Power Lunch

After 11 a.m., the menu turns its eye to lunch fare with more unusual offerings such as hefty freshly-made salads, Hummus & Avocado Sandwiches and a towering BLT along with the more standard fare of cheeseburgers, quesadillas, fries and hot dogs (albeit it’s a Wagyu Hot Dog, so even that isn’t quite the standard fare). 

Lost Pier fish tacos

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Fish Tacos

The beachy fish offerings are tantamount, though, with super-fresh Ceviche and Poke, a daily catch take on Fish & Chips and Fish Tacos, and even the rare appearance of an overstuffed Lobster Roll. 

I’ve tried the Fish Tacos and the Carne Asada Burrito – both pass with flying colors, particularly in fresh taste factor and relative steamy heat, which is normally lacking in cooked items at a beach cafe. 

Lost Pier carne asada burrito

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Carne Asada Burrito

Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and “The Balboa Bar” (the iconic frozen dessert that every beach café requires) round out the dessert menu.

It’s OK to Be Unprepared

Keep in mind that parking at this lot does not cater to Laguna “shopper” stickers. You’ve got to feed the meter, or park on Coast Highway and amble down to the café. If you do choose to just pop in and stay awhile, the Lost Pier sells sunscreen and beach towels, and rents beach chairs and umbrellas, too. Bjorkman says they’re also working on providing portable fire pits. And, beer and wine permitting should finally be sorted out in the next few weeks ahead. 

Most important to me – they’re hoping to have consistent Wi-Fi in the near future so that we can even bring our laptops down for a couple hours of solitude, sun and solidly fun food fare. 

The Iconic is Back

Clearly, I have a fondness in my heart for The Ranch as Christy and his staff have proven diehard loyalty to Laguna locals, while still catering to incoming visitors. I feel the same fondness for Lost Pier, and it’s probably due to the very same fact – this cafe might look like it caters to our visitors, but it is downhome local, through and through. 

Take a moment in the next few weeks to find your way to Lost Pier. It’s a great reminder as to why you chose Laguna Beach in the first place. 

Lost Pier Cafe is located at 31131 S Coast Hwy. 

For more information, go to www.lostpiercafe.comor call (949) 715-4210.


Get your taste buds ready for some delightful fare as Taste of Laguna returns to FOA grounds on Oct 18

Join Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce for a night of tasty bites and delicious drinks from Laguna’s finest restaurants. Mark Thursday, Oct 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. on your calendar. It’s the Chamber’s favorite night of the year, so they are going to kick it up a notch!

Get your food

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Photo by Shutterstock

Taste of Laguna comes to FOA on Oct 18

Enjoy selections from favorite local Laguna Beach spots, including Jan’s Health Bar, K’ya, Kitchen in the Canyon, Laguna Beach Beer Company, Las Brisas, Lumberyard, Mozambique, Nick’s, Okura Sushi, ​Reunion Kitchen & Drink, Rooftop, Sapphire, ​Sergio’s Empanadas, Skyloft, ​Slice Pizza, South of Nick’s, Starfish Laguna,
Terra Laguna Beach, The Cliff, The Grove on Forest, Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, Ti Amo by il Barone, Tommy Bahama, Watermarc, and Whole Foods.

For more information and tickets, go to www.tasteoflagunabeach.com.


New restaurant Harley plans an uncommon guest experience for 370 Common’s former space

By DIANE ARMITAGE

One of our most talented chefs in Laguna Beach, Chef Ryan Adams of 370 Common Kitchen + Drink, is pulling up stakes and moving on…but he’s really just moving down the road a patch. Adams announced this week that he will be closing 370 Common by mid-to late September, so that he can better focus on his two newest concepts, one of which (Parallel Pizzeria) resides in Dana Point.

Happily, the large, two-story edifice we’ve come to know as 370 Common has already found a new restaurant resident in the uber-talented Chef Greg Daniels, who has announced the coming of his newest concept, Harley. He plans to open in October. 

New restaurant Greg Daniels

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Photo by Anne Watson

Chef Greg Daniels, new proprietor of Laguna Beach-based Harley

This could actually be called a “Chef Swap”

Just weeks after opening his specialty pizza restaurant in Dana Point, Chef Ryan Adams also opened Buttermilk Fried Chicken, in Old Towne Orange. 

Adams’ restaurant sits less than two blocks from Haven Gastropub in Old Towne, which was opened in September 2009 and operated to award-winning status by none other than Chef Daniels. A partner/owner of the popular gastropub, Chef Daniels resigned in April of this year, and is now moving into 370 Common’s space to open Harley. 

Clearly, the two chefs have been talking. 

New restaurant Chef Ryan Adams

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Photo by 370 Common Kitchen + Drink

Chef Ryan Adams

“I wish Greg well on his new endeavor,” says Chef Ryan. “We’re all looking forward to seeing what Greg does with this fantastic space.”

Why he chose Laguna

My question for our incoming chef, of course, was: “Why Laguna?”

Chef noted, “I have always loved Laguna Beach, and the vibe here is right for what I hope to achieve. 

“One of the things that I’m most proud of over my time in Old Towne Orange is that, through Haven and Provisions, we worked to help build a food scene there. 

“I’m really looking forward to being part of the developing food and dining scene with the community of chefs that are already in Laguna Beach, like Amar Santana and Rainer Schwarz,” says Chef. 

Named after his grandfather

Chef Daniels says he named his new Laguna Beach restaurant after his grandfather, Harley, because “I want you to feel like I did when I went to my grandfather’s house – always welcome, the food was always good, and I left with a feeling of warmth in my heart.”

While Daniels continues to craft his opening day menu, he says his focus lies in creating seasonal menus in collaboration with local food producers for the freshest meats, seafood and produce. 

Daniels further states that the “crafting of the guest’s experience” is as much a priority as the food that is served. As more restaurants go the way of quick serve and self-serve, Daniels says he’s looking forward to bringing back the old-style warmth that will coddle Laguna residents and visitors with special care. 

At the top OC Chef’s event in March, too

To that point, Chef Daniels also announced this week that he will be sharing the love as a participant in the March 3, 2019, Top Chef extravaganza, Illumination Foundation’s OC Chef’s Table at the Disneyland Hotel. 

Now in its 6th year, the OC Chef’s Table culls the county’s finest culinary talent – the real movers and shakers in our foodie-loving world – for an evening of chefs cooking tableside for guests. The evening’s funds go toward the Illumination Foundation’s effort to break the cycle of homelessness by providing a full circle of services for homeless people that includes housing, recuperative care, after-school resource centers and tutoring for homeless children, and resources, networks and workforce help for adults. 

“Bringing on a talent like Chef Greg Daniels just elevates our event even more,” says Terry Campbell, marketing director for Illumination Foundation. “He couldn’t be in greater, like-minded company with all of the talented, generous chefs who give their time to this event.”

Illumination Foundation will reveal all 40-plus chef participants this month. 

Laguna Beach residents, though, will be the first to get a sneak peek at what Chef Daniels brings to the table with his planned October opening. Stay tuned in Stu News and my own blog, TheBestofLagunaBeach.com.


Selanne Steak Tavern Earns “Best Of” Award from Wine Spectator

Industry leader publication Wine Spectator magazine has announced its 2018 restaurant award winners, and Selanne Steak Tavern has once again earned the second highest level of recognition – The Best of Award of Excellence. For 2018, this award has been achieved by only 1,215 winners from all 50 states and from 75 countries. All award winners will be featured in the August 31 Wine Spectator issue, which just hit newsstands.

“The Best of Award of Excellence is only garnered by restaurants that typically offer 350 or more selections and are destinations for serious wine lovers – places that have a deep commitment to wine, both in the cellar and through their service team,” said Selanne Steak Tavern owners Teemu Selanne and Kevin Pratt. “We are exceptionally proud of our wine collection and of all the efforts put forth by our gracious and talented team, led by newly certified Advanced Sommelier Vito Pasquale.”

Selanne Steak Tavern table

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Selanne Steak Tavern earns The Best of Award of Excellence 2018 

Selanne Steak Tavern, an upscale steakhouse and tavern housed in a chicly transformed historic 1934 home on Pacific Coast Highway, has received this award based on its impressive wine inventory of over 2,750 bottles with list strength in selections from California and Burgundy, France.

The list also offers outstanding global selections, Old and New World from Washington, Oregon, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Austria, South Africa, Portugal, Canada and Australia. While the list is heavily focused on California cult wines with many highly allocated, low production, big scoring selections, it is designed to appeal to all wine lovers – their palates, pairing preferences and spending desires.

Recently, with the addition of being open for Sunday brunch, Selanne Steak Tavern has enhanced its beverage program by offering 11 sparkling wines by the glass at brunch – a prosecco, two brut rosés, a sparkling selection from Carneros, five non-vintage champagnes and three vintage champagnes from Perrier Jouet.

At dinner, the award-winning wine list complements Executive Chef Joshua Severson’s contemporary steakhouse menu featuring steaks, chops and other dishes served with classic sauces, bone marrow butter and sides – from the signature Lord Stanley Cut from Darling Downs, Australia, to Skuna Bay Salmon, Maine Lobster, Wagyu Steaks and Brandt Beef Short Ribs.

Selanne Steak Tavern is located at 1464 S Coast Hwy. For more information visit www.selannesteaktavern.com or call (949) 715-9881.

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