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Laguna Beach


No bones about it: Fishbone brings new “transcendental gastronomy” to Laguna

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

The French epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, who declared: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,” was the author of one of the most famous food books ever written, The Physiology of Taste

After eating at Laguna’s new Fishbone restaurant, this is what you are – giddy with the joy of eating and spirited away with each new taste, the epitome of “transcendental gastronomy” as Brillat-Savarin coined it.

My husband and I had the pleasure of dining on dishes prepared by Portuguese native Pedro Pereira, chef and CEO of Fishbone Restaurant Group, 

who surprisingly never attended culinary school. He just opened his fifth Fishbone, the first outside of Canada, and the Laguna community is the lucky beneficiary. The original location opened in 2010 in Stouffville, Ontario, with additional locations also in Stouffville, Aurora, and Innisfil, Ontario.

No bones sign

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Fishbone opened last Tuesday

First off, doesn’t everyone want to know where the name and logo came from? The name Fishbone comes from their whole fish offerings, and Pereira adds that his father used to call him “bones” when he was a boy because he was skinny. No doubt then, as now, he was always in motion.

Formerly the home of Tortilla Republic, this prime spot – with views of the ocean and Wyland Gallery – experienced a makeover of epic proportions and has gone from dark tones to a sophisticated yet casual palette of white, light woods, and mellow lighting. Happily, for us older folks, it has soft background music that doesn’t interfere with conversation. The expansive interior seats 100 guests and features a large banquet room that accommodates up to 28 people – with its own television monitor for meetings.

Chef Abad Martinez, from the helm at Mesa in Costa Mesa, heads the kitchen.

Not only did Pereira design and build the new interior, but he and Grant Sommerville, who Pereira brought from Canada as General Manager to oversee this location, sanded and refinished the existing tables (and there are many). He is very much “hands on” it seems, and not just with the cuisine, but with every aspect of the restaurant. 

No bones banquet

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Fishbone’s décor is sophisticated and welcoming at the same time

Pereira says, “The new décor was designed for a date night or to come in from the beach.” 

How does a self-taught chef end up owning five restaurants?

Pereira travelled from Portugal to Canada at the age of 18 to start a career in soccer. To earn money, he got a restaurant job and started as a food runner and then worked his way up at some of the best restaurants in Toronto. In 2008, before Fishbone, he opened a take-out Portuguese barbeque chicken restaurant. 

Five or so years ago, he first came to Laguna to visit a soccer-playing friend who lives in Emerald Bay and says, “I loved it here.” 

Pereira now travels back and forth between Laguna and Canada, where his wife and three daughters reside (his oldest daughter works in one of the restaurants).

However, there is more to the food experience than the fare, no matter how mind-blowing. The activity involves other elements: the décor, the servers, the overall vibe – it all combines to create a free-flowing and welcoming atmosphere.

Pereira appears to be a master at orchestrating it all.

Sommerville says, “I’m the longest standing employee, four years. Pereira has been a mentor – and in the way he treats people. If all goes right, he will be the last person I work for.”

Pereira says, “We love what we do, and we wanted to find the right people.”

They certainly succeeded. Larissa, our server, was wonderful, accommodating our requests and numerous questions. 

No bones prawns

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Tiger Shrimp

Everyone on the staff has been trained to perfection, not just on the various dishes and on how to please patrons, but in the backstory of this Laguna Fishbone endeavor as well as the other locations.

Server Morgan Craig came to Fishbone from The Deck, where he worked for several years. He met Pereira through a Canadian friend, and when he found out Pereira was opening here, he asked if he could work for him. “What Pedro and Grant do, there’s nothing like it. They’re very smart. It’s a great learning experience, the best experience ever.”

Now to embark on the culinary delights. Pereira’s philosophy is all about clean food: “Freshness, simplicity, seasonality, and good seasonings are the foundation of my food philosophy.” 

Sommerville says, “We make everything from scratch in our kitchens. Everything is fresh. The only thing in the freezer is gelato.”

The first offering Pereira presented was Tiger Shrimp with Piri Piri sauce, butter, lemon, and chilies – which had just the right amount of spice but not enough to overpower the sweet and tender shrimp. This proved to be one of my favorites. 

No bones server

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Larissa with guests

Although I initially expressed an aversion to octopus due to the texture, Pereira’s rendition was unlike any octopus dish I’d ever had before, a more rich and dense, but not rubbery, consistency due to he explained his cooking method. It was served with a roasted red pepper sauce and saffron aioli.

The Bay Scallops and Crab Linguine dish with fennel, chilies, and white wine cream and chives was in a savory light sauce, which didn’t compete with the freshness of the fish.

The highlight was the Grilled Whole Fish – sea bream – which only comes from the Mediterranean, and was served with grilled asparagus, cherry tomato salad, charred lemon, and drizzled with Esporao Olive Oil from Portugal. 

With great artistry, Pereira deboned the fish (he’s trained his staff in the same technique), as he explained the process. Surprisingly, sprinkling the sea bream with coarse salt only added to its already delicate flavor.

No bones fish

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Grilled Sea Bream from the Mediterranean 

If all this wasn’t enough to put one into a euphoric food trance, there was still dessert to come, and it was superb. Putting a new spin on Crème Brule, Pereira served Maple Syrup Crème Brule and a delectable Chocolate Mousse. This last course was complemented by a white Port wine (a style of dessert wine) and was the perfect end to a perfect meal.

Crème Brule is one of my favorite desserts, but this one, served with Brandy braised apples, was above and beyond any other. In every bite, there was a tantalizing mix of acid and sweet. My favorite. 

My husband loved the Chocolate Mousse, and I tasted it, but since he’s a huge chocolate fan, I let him have it. There wasn’t a spoonful left.

What’s there to say at the end of an extraordinary food experience when there are no more available adjectives.

Brillat-Savarin said, “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star.”

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, however, Fishbone, with its innovative dishes, opened up a whole new galaxy of gastronomical delights.

Fishbone is located at 480 S Coast Hwy. For more information, call the restaurant at (949) 343-4889 or visit www.fishbonerestaurants.com.

The restaurant is open Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Happy hour is offered from 2 - 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and all day Monday.


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Sunday’s “Sip and Shuck” party has graduated to serious shindig

By Diane Armitage

Next Sunday’s 7th Annual Sip and Shuck party at The Deck just keeps expanding with more enticing fare. 

Our fine folks at The Deck and Driftwood Kitchen restaurants introduced the Sip and Shuck as an oyster/champagne party in the name of nonprofit love for Laguna Beach. The first party included all sorts of tray-passed small bites and was filled to the brim with a sold-out crowd from the moment it opened its doors to its final, waning moments. 

Each year, it only gets better with all net proceeds benefitting CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). 

What this shindig includes

The acclaimed “guests of honor” (oysters and champagne) will return and, as usual, will be shucked to order. Vodka cocktails from Ketel One plan to be served up (as usual) on an ice luge. Champagne, beer, and wine tastings will be hosted by various ambassadors as well. 

Add in hundreds of small plates and appetizer bites from both The Deck and Driftwood Kitchen restaurants, raffles, drawings, and a swag shop for – you know – necessary swag. 

Sunday's sip crowd

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Last year’s shindig

Greats from local music scene, too

Then, finally, toss in great live music performances throughout the four-hour afternoon event. 

Phil Goth and Billy Sherman, known for their Common Sense alliance, will be performing on The Deck while Bluesy Addie Hamilton returns with Tommy Benson in the Driftwood Kitchen space. 

Only VIP tickets remain

Just a few remaining VIP tickets are still available (a $175 experience with private bartenders and exclusive access to the Bungalow Deck’s food and drinks). General Admission tickets ($145) are already sold out. To buy your VIP Sip and Shuck tickets, click here. VIPs receive early access at 1 p.m.; doors open for General admission at 2 p.m. 

(Sorry, ages 21 and over only allowed to the party.)

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com and follow on Instagram @BestOfLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


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Royal Hawaiian hosts “Voodoo & Lapus” party

This Thursday …Halloween night…the only party noted in town is happening at The Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill with its “Voodoo & Lapus Halloween Dance Party.”

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with uber-popular regional band Skylla hosting L.A. celebrity musician Francois Dean and global celebrity L.A. Guns original front singer Paul Black.

The Royal Hawaiian’s iconic Lapu Lapu cocktail (voodoo of its own) will be available all evening long at $10, served along with its many popular tiki cocktail peers, craft brews, and “other” cocktails that range beyond the tiki universe. 

Royal Hawaiian Lapu Lapu

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Royal Hawaiian’s iconic Lapu Lapu cocktail

While the restaurant’s popular Happy Hour will begin as usual at 5 p.m., doors for the party open after 7:30 p.m. with early bird covers at just $5. This is a 21+ party. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com and follow on Instagram @BestOfLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


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Royal Hawaiian hosts “Voodoo & Lapus” party

Because Halloween is on Thursday next week, a few restaurants and bars in town are celebrating this weekend with live music and parties. 

Next Thursday, though…Halloween night…the only party noted in town is happening at The Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill with its “Voodoo & Lapus Halloween Dance Party.”

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with uber-popular regional band Skylla hosting L.A. celebrity musician Francois Dean and global celebrity L.A. Guns original front singer Paul Black.

Royal Hawaiian Lapu Lapu

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Diane Armitage

Royal Hawaiian’s iconic Lapu Lapu cocktail

The Royal Hawaiian’s iconic Lapu Lapu cocktail (voodoo of its own) will be available all evening long at $10, served along with its many popular tiki cocktail peers, craft brews, and “other” cocktails that range beyond the tiki universe. 

While the restaurant’s popular Happy Hour will begin as usual at 5 p.m., doors for the party open after 7:30 p.m. with early bird covers at just $5. This is a 21+ party. 

Royal Hawaiian Voodoo

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Voodoo & Lapus Halloween Dance Party at RH on Oct 31

And Starting This Weekend: Pub Crawls

In addition to the Voodoo & Lapus party, this Thursday, Oct 24 through Sunday, Oct 27 finds the RoHi adhering to another decades-honored tradition: Laguna Beach Halloween Pub Crawls always begin their “crawl” at the Royal Hawaiian. 

Anyone (and everyone in their party) who shows up in costume during these four days receives any of RoHi’s Happy Hour-priced tiki cocktail drinks, including the infamous Lapu Lapu at just $12 (regularly priced at $16), as well as the best-selling Mai Tai and Blue Hawaiian drinks at $10 (regularly priced at $14).

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com and follow on Instagram @BestOfLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


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Laguna restaurants scaring up rumors at October’s close

Fishbone, Wild Taco hoping to open next week

While most Laguna-bound restaurants aim to open in early spring, a surprising number end up opening in the quieter months of fall. This makes Laguna locals extremely happy as it gives us a small window of time to get to know the restaurateurs, chefs, and cuisine before the summer mobs descend. 

If all goes according to plan, two downtown restaurants plan to be opening next week (the last week of October).

Wild Taco

Restaurateur Thomas Carson’s Wild Taco concept hopes to open its doors in the old Johnny Rockets location early next week. The 56-seat, family-style restaurant will be offering up wild fish caught using his Bear Flag company’s fishing boat. (That’s one way to ensure fresh delivery.)

Carson opened his first Wild Taco in February 2015 at 31st Street on the Newport Peninsula. The casual eatery was met with rave reviews and continues to rank repeatedly for “best taco” accolades. 

(By the way, Carson’s premier Bear Flag restaurant is still slated for development in the old Boom Boom Room but that’s going to take a bit longer.)

Fishbone

The fifth in the Fishbone Restaurants concept, Laguna’s new Fishbone is the family’s first to swim across the Canadian border. The restaurant is working through private soft opens this week and, if all goes well, plans to open to public next week. 

Laguna restaurants Fishbone interior

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Fishbone’s new interior

In 2010, Pedro and Liliana Pereira first established Fishbone Bistro in Stouffville, Ontario, eventually expanding to Musselman’s Lake, Aurora, and Innisfil, Ontario. 

Five years ago, the couple visited Laguna Beach and fell in love with the place. The couple began looking for a restaurant space at that time, only in recent months honing on the Tortilla Republic location. 

The cooler, swankier decor follows the Fishbone established brand, and the menu will continue to reflect the restaurant’s popular dishes of fish, seafood, paella, steaks, and more. 

Laguna restaurants Chef Martinez

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Fishbone’s new Executive Chef Abad Martinez holds a dish that will likely prove a favorite – Portuguese chorizo is ladled on top and brandy is poured into the pig’s “belly.” The brandy is then lit for Flaming Chorizo Sausage served tableside.

While General Manager Grant Sommerville has transplanted from Toronto to handle daily operations, the team chose nearby Orange County Chef Abad Martinez to head the kitchen.

Martinez, who most recently helmed the popular Mesa in Costa Mesa, is actually returning to Laguna Beach where he initially worked at the Montage Laguna Beach Loft and mentored with Studio’s Ben Martinek.

Central & White House – Wait for it

Co-owner Anna Driggs closed Central’s Forest location on October 1st. Still noting that “bigger things are in the works,” she says they’re working on negotiating space in Laguna Beach. 

Meanwhile, the venerable White House closed its dining room last week for a remodel and caused a warbling outcry that you could probably hear at the other White House in D.C. No worries, folks: Owner Demetri Catsouras says the family still owns the restaurant and that they really are doing a remodel with the bar remaining open during the remodel. He says that they do have news coming shortly that will “please a lot of locals,” but isn’t ready to spill the beans quite yet. Meanwhile, wild rumors are flying. Stay close; we should have answers soon. 

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com and follow on Instagram @BestOfLagunaBeach (look for Diane’s smiling face).


Nirvana Grille debuts Fall Menu with up to 50 percent off through Sunday

Welcome the flavors of fall at Nirvana Grille with the restaurant’s Fall Menu Debut. Enjoy up to 50 percent off through Sunday, Oct 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. The special is all night, on all new menu items.

Committed to offering delicious food and impeccable service, Nirvana Grille’s uniquely fresh menu allows a kitchen full of high-quality ingredients to take center stage, led by Chef/Co-Owner Lindsay Smith-Rosales.

Nirvana Grille Lindsay

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Chef/Co-Owner Lindsay Smith-Rosales (middle) invites locals to enjoy Nirvana Grille’s new Fall Menu with up to 50 percent off through Sunday

Nirvana Grille’s “ingredients first” philosophy begins at the local level, working closely with purveyors to ensure access to the best available provisions so the restaurant can change menus with the seasons. 

Nirvana’s menu is composed entirely of all-natural meats free from hormones and antibiotics, organic free range “Mary’s” poultry, and sustainable seafood. It’s all about the food and the guest’s experience for this fantastic restaurant.

Limited space is available and reservations are required by phone. For reservations, call (949) 497-0027. 

For more information, visit www.nirvanagrille.com

Nirvana Grille is located at 303 Broadway #101.


Selanne Steak Tavern named Best Wine Program for second consecutive year

Selanne Steak Tavern won the Golden Foodie Award for Best Wine Program 2019 for the second consecutive year at Orange County’s Golden Foodie Awards gala held September 29 at the Newport Beach Marriott with over 250 guests. Master Sommelier Michael Jordan and Sauté magazine Editor Tina Borgatta presented the award.

“Winning the Golden Foodie Best Wine Program Award two years running is such an honor,” said co-owner Kevin Pratt. “Teemu Selanne and I are grateful to those who appreciate our sincere hospitality and our impressive wine inventory. Our list, which is curated by Advanced Sommelier Vito Pasquale, pairs brilliantly with Chef Vince Terusa’s exceptional dishes.”

The Best Wine Program Golden Foodie 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.

Selanne Steak wine

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Submitted photo

Selanne Steak Tavern’s wine list tops the charts 

This year’s gala was presided over by co-hosts Neil Saavedra of KFI AM’s “The Fork Report” and Food Network star and cookbook author Aarti Sequeira.

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 serves as the highest honor and is an indication of local culinary trends and consumer preferences.” There is a one-week period for voters to cast votes recognizing their choices of outstanding restaurants in 16 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.

Selanne Steak Tavern’s previous six Golden Foodie Awards include Best Service Award in 2017; Best Steak Award for the restaurant’s outstanding menu execution, service and overall program in 2016; Best Wine Program in 2015 and 2018; 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 three years.

Selanne Steak Tavern opened in November 2013 and is owned by Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne and local Orange County businessman Kevin Pratt. Housed in a reimagined 1934 historic home along the Pacific Coast, it’s an upscale contemporary steak house with an upstairs dining room, downstairs tavern and bar area, a wine room for more intimate dining, and two patios for alfresco dining.

The restaurant supports local farms and fisheries that practice sustainability and humane practices. Menus feature the finest of steaks and seafood served with a variety of accompaniments enhanced by herbs from the restaurant’s herb garden.

Along with its carefully selected California-focused wine list, craft signature cocktails are created from quality farmers market produce, homemade mixers, and top-notch shelf spirits. Selanne Steak Tavern is open for dinner nightly starting at 5 p.m. 

For reservations and more information, call (949) 715-9881 or visit www.selannesteaktavern.com.

Selanne Steak Tavern is located at 1464 South Coast Hwy.


Chef Craig Strong’s award-winning restaurant Ocean at Main celebrates one year 

Widely recognized as one of Orange County’s best new restaurants, Ocean at Main in Laguna Beach will celebrate one year in business this month. To celebrate the major milestone, Chef/Owner Craig Strong presents a new menu of approachable California coastal cuisine, imbued with fall flavors and a few luxe surprises. 

In its first year, the critically acclaimed restaurant was honored as a Best New Restaurant by Orange Coast Magazine, one of Modern Luxury’s 10 Most Exciting New Restaurants, and was named among OC Register critic Brad Johnson’s 75 Best Places to Eat.

Since its debut last fall, Ocean at Main has attracted a loyal crowd of locals and international travelers alike. As the restaurant heads into its second year, Strong presents new dishes that strike the perfect balance between elegant and playful – perfectly capturing the vibe of laid-back luxury in Laguna Beach.

Chef Craig outside

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Submitted photo

Ocean at Main Chef/Owner Craig Strong 

“This evolution of our menu comes from listening to our guests,” comments Chef Craig Strong, whose storied 25-year career is hallmarked with accolades of James Beard Award nominations and a Michelin star. “Our first year has given us much to celebrate, and it’s also been a year of listening and pivoting. As we enter into year two, I’m proud to present a new menu which reflects that. We look forward to continuing to partner with and serve our community for years to come.”

The new menu, which Chef Strong notes was conceptualized by listening to his guests, features approachable entrees ranging in price from $18 to $42. Dishes are brought to life with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and classic culinary techniques. While new entrees include Pan-Seared Striped Sea Bass and a 12 oz Ribeye Steak, famed signature items like the Roasted Beet Salad and Oxtail Risotto remain.

Among the new dishes include a selection of bar bites, shareable appetizers which capture Chef Strong’s favorite flavors through playful presentations:

--Short Rib “Cigars” – horseradish crème fraîche, black pepper ash

--Fuerte Wings – housemade blue cheese, shaved carrot and celery

--Warm Artichoke and Parsley Dip – rosemary and parmesan flatbread

--Pork Belly Lettuce Wraps – carrot kimchi, Asian soy

While the new menu features moderately priced, approachable fare, Chef Strong continues to deliver dishes with luxe and allure. Guests who want to opt into a more luxurious dining experience can enjoy A5 Miyazaki Wagyu, imported truffles, and a la minute personalized tasting menus on any given night.

Ocean at Main is located in the heart of downtown Laguna Beach (222 Ocean Ave) and is open for dinner nightly from 5 - 10 p.m., and for weekend brunch from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

For more information, visit www.oceanatmain.com or connect with @oceanatmain on Instagram and Facebook.


New Kid in Town: Lumberyard’s popular burger goes Beyond

Story by Diane Armitage

Over many years, the Lumberyard Signature Burger has never budged from my annual “Top 5 Burgers of Laguna Beach,” and it’s always been a best-seller on Cary Redfearn’s menu.

Over the last few months, though, the LYard champ is being challenged by a come-upper from its own ranks: The Lumberyard Beyond Burger.

The Beyond Burger, a plant-based burger largely made of pea protein, is the first of its kind in Laguna Beach. In fact, you might call restaurateur Redfearn a trendsetter as McDonald’s just got around to announcing last Thursday that it will begin serving the “PLT” – a Beyond plant-based burger with lettuce and tomato – in Canada. The announcement caused Beyond’s stock to shoot up from $138 to $154 a share in mere hours. The Beyond Burger is also being served in Carl’s Jr. locations to rave reviews.

If it looks like a burger and tastes like a burger…

“I just knew this day was coming,” said Cary. “There are too many issues out there with the sustainability and emissions of raising beef, but no one who loves beef wants to give up that great taste.”

New kid beyond burger

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Unlike vegetarian burgers, the Beyond burger is made of pea protein with a phenomenal likeness to a perfectly grilled beef burger

Unbeknownst to me and until my interview with Cary last week, the Beyond burger is not a vegetarian burger, which is usually made of assorted chickpeas, beans, potatoes and/or vegetables. The Beyond burger is, instead, a carefully engineered gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO solution that ranks in equal calories to a burger patty but provides as much protein and iron with less fat and saturated fat.

More important to me (the Foodie Queen) is that this burger looks, smells and tastes like a true-blue grilled hamburger.

A compelling argument for burger lovers everywhere

At first, I was the Doubting Thomas, I’ve got to admit.

But, when Cary is excited about a food product, he’s absolutely compelling. His passion for great food makes Cary one of only two guys I know who could talk me into eating the stuff I typically label “weird.” (The other guy is my longtime Michelin-starred client, Joe Marsco, in Las Vegas. He’s the only person in the world who finally managed to talk me into eating frog’s legs and foie gras.)

When Cary tells me to get in my car and break every speed limit to reach a certain hole in the wall in Los Angeles, I follow through like an obedient food zombie. He has never steered me wrong.

New kid Cary

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Cary Redfearn 

When his chef produced the Lumberyard Beyond Burger at my table, Cary snatched it and cut it into squares for me, just like my Dad used to lovingly do with my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. How can you not love something that an authoritative figure so adores?

On the taste test, I had to admit: Cary was right again. This “burger” is truly an anomaly. It’s that meat alternative that’s alternatively great.

On the chew factor, it’s a little more dense than your common burger patty. It’s more like biting into a ground sirloin burger. Its taste, though, is so closely matched to a backyard grill burger that you can’t even discern where the scientists at Beyond Burger tried to get it right. (I would have loved to have been a fly on that wall.)

New kid beyond burger

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Photo by Diane Armitage

Beyond Burger in sections

The Lumberyard serves it with a slather of tomato marmalade to keep the patty juicy, but I don’t detect the normal patty dryness that I’ve tasted in other “almost-beef” products. It even looks like a medium rare burger, compliments of a dash of beet juice in the manufacture.

Plant-based burger war includes the “Impossible”

As more consumers grow more health and environmentally conscious, consumption of plant-based foods continues to rise. The Beyond Burger was first to take the scene in 2009. In 2011, the Impossible Burger began popping up in every possible location, too, but its soy base has proven a slight detriment to the Beyond Burger solution.

While the two newbies have struggled with the meteoric rise of success (management row of each entity has sent its heads of state to feverishly work in the refrigerated warehouses to help meet demand), the world’s largest food conglomerate, Nestlé, is looking to move into this market in a very big – and organized, grandpappy – way.

Nestlé has the ability to flood multiple markets in a nano-second, having survived those adolescent days of growth back in about 1920.

Just recently, Nestlé, announced that it will be launching the Awesome Burger in the U.S. in various grocery chains after spectacularly selling a similar product under its Garden Gourmet brand in Europe. It also plans to launch a giant line of plant-based deli meats for deli counters and grocery shelves.

“I think it’s a great and conscientious trend overall,” said Cary. “We’ve begun to expand Beyond, if you will, to sausage links here at Lumberyard and in crumbled sausage for our pizzas at Slice. For us, it’s the tastiest solution, and our patrons are beginning to notice. I know that I’m finally on the cutting edge of something that will only become bigger in demand. But, what’s most important is that I like what I’m doing to help the long-term solution of sustainability.”

Lumberyard Laguna Beach is at 384 Forest, actually on the corner of Forest and Forest, just across from City Hall.

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach™, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events, and lifestyle. Check out chef interviews, retail and restaurant news, and favorite events at TheBestofLagunaBeach.com.


The Cliff welcomes Claudia Nygaard to upcoming songwriter showcase on Monday

On Monday, Sept 30 at 7 p.m., The Cliff proudly welcomes Claudia Nygaard to the stage for the venue’s songwriter showcase. Nygaard is currently on tour promoting her latest CD Lucky Girl.

Nygaard has won numerous awards for her writing, including the prestigious Kerville Folk Festival songwriting competition. She’s also cut her songwriting teeth as a salaried staff writer on Nashville’s Music Row. 

The Cliff Claudia

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Courtesy of claudianygaard.com

Claudia Nygaard will grace the stage at The Cliff on Monday, Sept 30 

Longtime Laguna local Denny Freidenrich is especially excited for Nygaard’s performance. “I’ve known Claudia since we were in junior high school. Over the years, I have had the privilege of hearing her perform several times. I’m excited that my friends in town finally will get a chance to see her at The Cliff.” 

For more information on Claudia, visit her website at www.claudianygaard.com

The Cliff is located at 577 South Coast Hwy.

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