NewLeftHeader

broken clouds

69.0°F

Laguna Beach


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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for larger image

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

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted Photo

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.


New restaurant Terra Laguna Beach will open in time for Festival season

The new on-property restaurant for Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters (FOA/POM), Terra Laguna Beach, introduces its new Executive Chef, Jenny Messing, and its premiere menu just in time for the Laguna Beach festival season. 

Officially opening July 6, in line with the beginning of the FOA/POM, Chef Messing’s menu for Terra will be a distinct and vibrant collection of sophisticated and fresh dishes with a focus on California cuisine infused with international inspiration and world-class taste.

“Fine cuisine is in and of itself an art form,” said Festival of Arts president David Perry. “We look forward to welcoming the culinary creativity of Terra Laguna Beach to the Festival grounds.”

New restaurant Terra

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Terra Laguna Beach

Born and raised in Southern California, Jenny grew up with a restaurant and catering family legacy. With an education from Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California, her specific culinary style is heavily rooted in California cuisine – it’s fresh, fun and sophisticated. 

Before coming to Laguna Beach, her catering business, Kitchen Vibes, helped facilitate a warm and welcoming dining experience for corporate and private events all over Southern California. 

With help from longstanding Executive Sous Chef from the previous FOA/POM restaurant in this location, Tivoli Terrace, Gregorio Huerta, and Chef Messing, Terra’s menu will feature some signature favorites from Tivoli Terrace’s previous menu but will breathe new life into this kitchen. Terra will be keeping the Lamb Shank braised in wine, tomato sauce and spices – a pageant classic; June Neptune’s Chicken Walnut Salad with fresh grapes and light curry, as a tribute to June and her legacy; and Tivoli’s award winning Viennese Spiced Carrot Cake.

Chef Messing will also add some flavorful new California classics, including Fresh Salmon, pan seared to perfection with fresh pineapple and grapefruit salsa with spicy pickled Serrano peppers and ginger to give your taste buds a kick. Terra will also introduce grass-fed beef with its Grilled Flank Steak with a charred scallion and toasted walnut chimichurri sauce, and a House Salad made with mixed baby greens, fresh strawberries, toasted almonds, chèvre and a rosé vinaigrette will offer a flavorful introduction for every guest – as a simple yet beautiful salad with all ingredients sourced locally in California. 

New restaurant messing

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Chef Jenny Messing

For dessert, Chef Messing has created a light Rosemary-Lemon Olive Oil Cake with fresh house-made whipped cream and topped with juicy macerated berries for a perfect ending to a delicious summer dining experience.

There will also be a new bar menu that will include artfully crafted cocktails and mocktails infused with fresh juices and herbs, as well as an expanded wine, beer and cider selection. Terra will also be adding healthy and vibrant seasonal brunch items to its weekend menu. Chef Messing is still testing, tasting and perfecting the Terra menus with insight from the FOA/POM and others.

“I couldn’t be more inspired by Terra Laguna Beach,” Chef Messing said. “The Terrance, the roof, the outdoor setting and overall ambiance is a perfect pairing to the food I am so looking forward to serving our guests. It’s going to be an incredible summer at Terra!” 

Hasty Honarkar, Vice President of The Laguna Beach Company hopes that appealing to the evolving tastes in food and beverage offerings for Terra will bring more guests and excitement to this year’s 85th anniversary of the FOA/POM. “This is an exciting year for Laguna Beach,” she said. “We are so grateful that our team has been able to partner with the Festival and Pageant to provide a delicious and unique experience for locals and visitors who come to support our wonderful art community.”

Dora Wexell Orgill, Vice President/General Manager of Terra is also looking forward to this new chapter for FOA/POM. “I am so excited to see the community engage with Terra and reconnect to the history of the FOA/POM grounds,” she said.

In the fall, Terra will be an active event venue and offer private parties and events customized catering menus and a gorgeous space surrounded by nature. However, in November, Terra will close for renovations and will re-open in May 2019 with its grand opening. Festival and Pageant ticket holders are able to come and experience Terra at their leisure during the festival season; and, with a season pass or a Pageant ticket guests can keep returning to Terra.


Cheers to Laguna Beach Beer Co., the coolest 

new hot spot in town

By SUZIE HARRISON

Prepare for takeoff, Laguna. The best flight ever experienced without having to leave home, Laguna Beach Beer Co., has just arrived. This place is for real, with over 20 original beers on tap and two guest beers. So leave the baggage behind and get ready for this smooth restaurant-brewery ride!

Everyone is welcome, whether on two feet or four. This flight is different, even dogs that aren’t designated as “emotional support” are invited, no doctor’s note is needed to walk through the door.

Cheers to Facade

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The new Laguna Beach Beer Co. is a real hot spot that’s so cool 

There’s nothing plain about this plane ride...belly up to the bar, choose from a selection of high tops, standard and open style seating, outdoor tables, or park it at a chill lounge-like couch setting.

Preparing our flight was Captain Russell Swarts, Sales and Marketing Manager. I explained to Swarts the type I beer I like and he prepared my flight schedule.

“We’ve been doing a ton of flights. It’s been pretty busy so far. We have 22 of our own beers on tap and two guests beers,” Swarts said.

The first leg of my flight was Ruby Street, a grapefruit IPA / ABV: 7 / IBU: 70, one of their most popular, a West Coast style IPA with a healthy dose of the tasty, great fruit. 

As a beer aficionado, I had elevated expectations and to have them exceeded was exceedingly exciting. My immediate reaction was this is the best beer I have ever tasted. Anyone who knows me, understands that’s a big deal, hugely big.

I diligently delved into my pursuit of the other beers on my itinerary, doing my due diligence as a reporter, of course. Main Tower, Big Bend, and Telonics Trail were mine for the tasting.

Cheers to Beers Flight

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mike Tauber

Me absolutely loving the beer flight I was on at Laguna Beach Beer Co.

Big Bend is a Hazy IPA / ABV: 8.2 / IBU: 64, named after the hairpin turn in Laguna Canyon, described as a hazy double IPA with flavors of passion fruit and ripe melon, double dry hopped with Ekuanot, Mosaic, and Dr. Rudi for that bitterness and aroma,” according to the beer menu. “This has definitely been a crowd pleaser,” Swarts said. 

I was indeed pleased. Suddenly, beer by beer, my new favorite choice of brews became clear. My fave was Ruby Street, Big Bend, Telonics Trail, and a Guava beer that Mike Tauber, my partner in crime to check out the Beer Co., had on his flight. I was ready for landing.

“Big Bend is my favorite beer right now,” Swarts said. 

As for what’s most requested, Swarts said, Big Bend or our Drunken Cellarmen, 2.0, which is a hazy IPA.

“We’re about to release our third different version of it. So basically, what we do is change the hops; we use the same yeast in every version of it,” Swarts said. “So our last and third version is coming out this week or at the very latest next week.”

So what is a hazy IPA as opposed to sans haze?

“It’s a very juicy tropical beer, each variant is different based on the hops that we use so the version was very light, the second version was actually very bitter, and the third version is going to be like the first version a little bit lighter, very juicy and tropical,” Swarts said.

It resonates for summer, a sweet summertime swill. 

The Beer Company likes to go local when possible, as the two owners are Laguna Beach natives Brent Reynard and Mike Lombardo.

However, the most is important ingredient is using the best ingredients.

“Our malt comes from Germany. We do use some local Southern California companies, including a hop company from San Diego,” Swarts explained. “We try to tie it in with the local area, the names of the beers. Saddleback Mountain is where our brewery is, so we send some love to them,” Swarts said of Mike’s first beer.

It was time to come back down to earth and order some of their tasty eats. I ordered what they call artisan flatbreads. I call it pizza. It tastes a lot like pizza you can find in North Beach, San Francisco, delicious. I got a Margherita.

Cheers to pizza

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mike Tauber

It doesn’t get much better than this, beer and pizza, best ever, my new favorite hangout in Laguna Beach

Tauber asked to be surprised with something that has meat in it, something that says wow, you can’t get this anywhere else. He got the Cali-Chick, a chicken breast with cilantro pesto, smoked mozzarella, arugula, avocado, and tomato on a talera roll. 

He was in love, especially with the fact that all their sandwiches come with fresh greens. Everything tasted so fresh. We also had a side of baked cauliflower with corn and brie with fruit.

And we loved the presentation of the flights, the wooden racks made with a chalkboard intersection to write the name of each beer on it, its initials, giving it a unique touch.

Each flight was put in the order to drink from, left to right. But not me, I moved them all around, except Ruby Street, which didn’t really come out of my hand.

Tauber was going for his Guava beer while I was trying Big Bend.

“I love Guava, so of course, it has my name written all over it,” Tauber said. And I of course had to make a quip, “Well really MT, Main Tower does.” We had a good laugh over that.

“The Guava is light and has an absolutely fresh guava taste to it. I picked guavas in Hawaii and this is delicious,” Tauber said.

Guava beer was new to me and to my delight it was unbelievable, practically neck and neck with the grapefruit freshness of Ruby Street.

I elicited a meow in response to my first guava sip and found myself holding onto his beer for a couple more swills.

“What we did for that beer, we made a Hefeweizen and we split the batch, so we got two beers out of one. We added guava puree to about 10 barrels of it,” Swarts said.

Rob McClaire who was once with the Montage and other high-end restaurants oversees operations. He was warm and welcoming.

“I got joined up with Mike and Brent the founders in February. They brought me on to run the operations and really bring Laguna’s beer to Laguna Beach,” McClaire said. “I’m so stoked to be here back in my hometown in Laguna Beach, where I was born and raised. It’s also good to be joining forces with them.”

Tauber enjoyed the open vision of the kitchen, where you can watch the chefs at work. 

Cheers to Beer Menu

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Enjoy the buzz of the Hive and the liveliness of the revamped Civic Art District, especially the tasty eats and beer treats at Laguna Beach Beer Co.

“It’s easygoing, everyone is very laid back. I love it,” Tauber said. “I mean look at the helpful staff, helping you with your beer choices. Look at that, line it up.”

“We really want people to come for the beer and stay for the food. It’s really a neighborhood spot,” McClaire said. “You can bring your kids and family, you can go on date night if you want to, bring your dog. We have great beer and some delicious wine too.”

The place was packed all night but with plenty of room, nonetheless.

We ran into David Evans, who we really like, a close friend of one of our best friend’s, Sian Poeschl. He had already been to the bar twice by Saturday.

“The selection of the beer is amazing here. It’s cool,” Evans said. 

Tauber and I reiterated to each other how exemplary the staff is, and we couldn’t get over the cool atmosphere, so Laguna Beach.

“We’re trying to keep it laid back and local here,” McClaire said. 

It definitely delivers on that promise. There was not an empty bar stool the whole time we were there. Mike and I concurred that it’s better than 5-stars.

Now it’s your turn to check it out.

“We have our grand opening Thursday, June 7, starting at 5 p.m. with live music, light appetizers, and a live muralist next door,” McClaire said. 

We plan to highlight different artists on our walls for Art Walk nights,” Swarts added.

The event is being held in conjunction with the rebranding and opening celebration of the Hive. Swill on!

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


Kitchen in the Canyon gets new ownership

Kitchen in the Canyon is now owned by The Laguna Beach Company, led by the Honarkars and the Orgills, according to a press release issued on Thursday. 

“With new ownership by The Laguna Beach Company, Kitchen in the Canyon on Laguna Canyon Road will maintain and expand its reputation for being a culinary destination and community staple in Laguna Beach. Kitchen in the Canyon is a central gathering point within the Arts District in Laguna Beach and has become a hot spot for brunch and lunch,” the release states.

The Laguna Beach Company, LLC (TLBC) owns the property where Kitchen in the Canyon is located, and now owns the business, Kitchen in the Canyon, as well, with Dora Wexell Orgill as the VP/General Manager and Jenny Messing as Executive Chef.

This neighborhood café, located in what used to be the Arts District and is now known as The Hive, has become a favorite dining spot for breakfast, brunch and lunch. It is next door to [seven-degrees], Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) student housing, and neighboring the Sawdust Festival grounds as well as the Art-A-Fair grounds.

The acquisition of this property by TLBC has led to some innovative improvements to the Arts District, while maintaining the legacy of the community favorites in this area.

Kitchen in the handshake

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Mo Honarkar and Patrick DiGiacomo shake hands on the deal

Before Patrick DiGiacomo and his partners Craig Lyon and Debi Lyon began Kitchen in the Canyon in January of 2017, this spot had previously acted as a culinary school called Laguna Culinary Arts, offering cooking classes and programs for many different levels of chefs. 

Kitchen in the Canyon Manager Craig Lyon is looking forward to expanding upon the legacy already created at this restaurant with this new ownership. 

“We have created such a beloved, down-home, comfortable community café over the last year and a half at Kitchen in the Canyon thanks to this great community and our incredible staff, and are so excited to finally be able to have the support to see some of our original vision come to fruition, and keeping our staff intact in the process, with the investment in the community from The Honarkars and The Laguna Beach Company,” he said.

According to the release, DiGiacomo gladly sold the business to the Honarkars and The Laguna Beach Company and is ready for the next chapter in his own life. 

“After two years of building Kitchen in the Canyon into a successful community café, I am happy to pass the reins to Mo Honarkar, who has an amazing long-term vision – not just for Kitchen in the Canyon and The Hive, but for the future of Laguna Beach,” DiGiacomo said.

The future of Kitchen in the Canyon looks bright. The management and staff are staying put, and with the addition of the new Executive Chef Jenny Messing, the menu is going to be expanded but the legacy will remain intact.

The operating hours are expanding too (now open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily with plans to expand to dinner hours in the near future also), and TLBC plans on adding more diverse and accommodating menu items, utilizing locally sourced produce, and continuing to serve fresh baked goods by Debi Lyon, helping to create a truly inclusive, delicious, and healthy dining destination for residents and visitors from all walks of life.

Chef Messing brings her passion for healthy comfort food and a love for aesthetically pleasing dishes that focus on awakening the taste buds, nourishing the body and exciting the eyes. Born and raised in Southern California, Messing feels inspired by the community of Laguna Beach and the full experience of dining. “I’m really looking forward to taking this café to the next level, and giving everybody a chance to eat something that they will not only love to eat, but that they will feel good about eating,” she says.

Dora Wexell Orgill has been aiding the enhancement of the Laguna Arts District for more than twenty years now, and is excited to be able to help Kitchen in the Canyon reach new heights. “The Hive is growing into a hub for the Arts District, and the Kitchen in the Canyon has been the casual culinary center of this area for over a year now and that’s not going to change. TLBC and Laguna Creative Ventures will help ensure that this neighborhood café maintains its reputation and welcomes even more people to this hub.”

For more information, contact Kitchen in the Canyon at (949) 715-5388.


A Tale of Two Restaurant Openings

By DIANE ARMITAGE

Last week, I had the pleasure of being invited to two Laguna-related restaurant “soft openings” on the same night.

Now, “soft openings” can be any of a number of events for a new restaurant just readying to open its doors to the public, which proved to be the case last Thursday. 

Chef Ryan’s Parallel Pizzeria

My first restaurant opening of the evening was in Dana Point at Chef Ryan Adams’ new concept restaurant, Parallel Pizzeria.

Chef Ryan is a longtime success story here in Laguna Beach with Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink, so I knew I was in for a treat. Truly one of our most talented chefs in Laguna Beach, Chef Ryan is incapable of making anything ordinary, even if it’s pizza. 

I showed up to an almost-empty restaurant except for Chef Ryan, his impeccable PR agent, Marguarite, kitchen and serving staff, and a single 10-top table filled with the area’s top food columnists. It was like a family reunion seeing all my foodie buddies there. 

LB Best parallel

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Chef Ryan Adams with his pizzeria staff

In minutes, Chef Ryan and team were off and running with plate after plate of fabulous fare. His “Parallel” concept is only about the East Coast’s New Haven, Connecticut-inspired pie meeting the West Coast of fresh, organic flavors.

In Ryan’s opinion, no one makes pizza better than this mid-size coastal city on Long Island’s Sound. 

No Parallel in Pie Research, Either

Not unexpectedly, Chef Ryan did his usual intricate research, even having the New Haven water tested, then shipped in the exact same level of minerals to enhance his SoCal water here.

Why? 

To create the perfect New Haven pizza crust, of course. 

From his West Coast pear and gorgonzola-based salad to his East Coast chopped salad, and from a classic East Coast Clam Pie to the West Coast-based Killer Dana Pie, it is truly a heavenly mash-up of the best of two worlds. 

LB Best pizza

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Parallel Pizzeria’s Killer Dana Pie with Italian chicken sausage, sweet peppers and cilantro pesto

For the sake of brevity here, I have a full review of Parallel Pizzeria in my blog, Tge Best of Laguna Beach at www.LagunaBeachBest.com.

Parallel Pizzeria opens today, Friday, June 1 and is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. It sits in “The Row,” right on Coast Highway by Chronic Tacos and Subway at 34255 Pacific Coast Highway.

Central Peruvian is Back (With a Bang)

I scooted from Parallel Pizzeria to my second restaurant “soft” opening at Central, our re-opening Peruvian restaurant on Forest Avenue.

As you may recall, Central experienced a devastating kitchen fire on December 29.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the unexpected blaze, but they experienced a crushing $350,000 loss that included $20,000 in wine. 

While Central Partners Anna Montoya and Taylor McKinney hoped to be open in February, they were finally able to celebrate their soon-to-open status last Thursday, May 24. 

I arrived about a half hour after the party had begun, parked on a side street and half-mindedly noticed a roar of some sort of crowd as I began my short trek to Central’s front doors. As I turned the corner, I realized the roar was emanating from none other than Central itself. The place was absolutely packed with well-wishers, from the outdoor patio to the walls hugging the bathrooms at the restaurant’s very back. 

Taylor was manning the front with a couple of darling (but overwhelmed) hostesses and offered me a welcome hug. 

And then…I was left to wade into the throng. 

I managed to push my way in about two feet, popping up on my toes to see if I could find any familiar faces. The place was absolutely vibrating with high energy and happy, loud conversation, and I couldn’t help but grin. I remember the days when Anna first opened Central and worried with me about whether or not the crowds would ever come her way. 

As I tried to wrassle my way further into the restaurant, I discovered my hands were near my chin, similar to that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. As a cocktail server neared me with her tray of enticing appetizer samplers, I found myself helpless and hapless, unable to reach for a bite with my now-diminutive reach. 

I couldn’t help chuckling; this was a significant change up from the tranquil restaurant opening I had just exited moments before.

I managed to turn (really just spinning on my heeled toes as it was all the room I was allowed) and discovered Anna trying to make her way in the front door. I waved her down, hugged her, gabbled happily for a moment, and barked at people to clear a small path so that we could get a photo together.

The fanfare and goodwill were absolutely exuberant all around, and there is no one more deserving than Anna and Taylor.

I managed to tap the shoulder of one of the few local friends I could spot, and we shuffled and squeezed our way down the length of the restaurant to the back door exit. Emerging rather sweaty and disheveled, we took a few deep breaths…and headed for Ryan’s 370 Common for a much-needed drink.

Central opened to the public last night (Thursday) and I’ve made reservations for Saturday evening. I can’t wait to see the renovated space and try the “improved” menu (though I doubt much of anything can be improved at this fine eatery).

More news on that review in my column next time!

Congratulations to both of our Laguna-based restaurateurs, and I look forward to seeing both of your places filled to the brim. 

P.S. For Chef Ryan’s fried chicken-loving fans…oh, have I got news for you. More on that next week here at StuNews. 

Diane Armitage is the best-selling author of the book The Best of Laguna Beach, and offers a cornucopia of ideas and upcoming events at her blog at www.LagunaBeachBest.com.


Taverna: An unforgettable Italian experience right here in Laguna

Story and photos by DIANNE RUSSELL

The minute I open the door of Taverna, savory fragrances envelop me in haze of memories. I’m immediately taken back to an incredible pasta dish I had in Venice 34 years ago. A long time, I know.

Such odor/memory links are known as the “Proust Phenomenon” in honor of Marcel Proust, the French writer who spoke lyrically about the strength of memories evoked by smell, and never has this sensation been more evident to me. 

But this isn’t Italy, this is Laguna Beach, and my husband Ron and I are in for a treat that exceeds the café in Venice. Our palates just don’t know it yet. 

Steven, the general manager, greets us, and we decide to sit inside. 

Now that the weather is cooling, Taverna, with its comfortable and cozy atmosphere, is the perfect place to dine. The patio is also delightful (and has heaters), but on this visit, we opt for inside and the rustic and warm ambiance. I’ve dined on the patio with friends often before. (As a bonus, they allow dogs on the patio.)

Our server Mike, who has been with Taverna since July of 2017, knows quite a lot about the restaurant. It resides in the restored Laguna Federal Savings and Loan Building, and the three unique murals (from the 1940s) in the patio area were uncovered during the renovation. 

Click on photo for larger image

One of three murals from the 1940s in Taverna’s restored patio

Taverna is part of Lombardi’s Family Concepts, which is headquartered in Dallas, and this is their first restaurant in California (it opened in March of 2016). They have additional locations in Las Vegas, Austin, Houston, and Akumal, MX. Specializing in Northern Italian cuisine, each restaurant creates its own dishes from scratch.

Mike tells us about the specials for the day. For once, I realize I’m not straining to hear what the server is saying. One of my pet peeves is the high noise level in some restaurants, but that is absent here, and Mike points out the many sound absorbers installed on the beamed ceiling. 

One of the dishes he mentions is Scallop Risotto, and since Taverna is known as a “risotteria,” and it appears to be a signature dish, Ron decides on that one. Their expertise in risotto is widespread, they use only Carnaroli grain, which maintains its shape during the slow cooking process that produces enviable risotto. 

And just because I love eggplant, I order the Eggplant Parmigiana. 

Mike brings each of us a glass of wine, Pinot Noir for Ron, and a Sauvignon Blanc for me, and turns out, each is an apt pairing for our selections. 

Because the servings are ample, we decide to split a Burrata Salad, which was exactly the right choice. 

Burrata salad with heirloom tomatoes, arugula, basil and Tuscan olive oil

If I wasn’t aware that Taverna doesn’t have a farm out their back door, I would have guessed the tomatoes, arugula, and basil were directly from backyard farm to table. Rarely have I tasted salad ingredients so fresh and full of taste. And I don’t even know what to say about the Burrata, (obviously, they don’t have a cow anywhere nearby either). Burrata means “butter” in Italian, and this offering was fresh cheese at its best, creamy and rich.

To accompany it, they present a basket of warm rosemary bread and a crock of spread made from garbanzo beans, pesto, pine nuts, garlic and basil.  A delicious and unexpected blend of Greek and Italian. And, of course, the traditional balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but taken up several notches.

But the best was yet to come.

It’s no fluke that Taverna is known as a “risotteria.”  The Scallop Risotto is a dish to die for – or to die after – since this might be a good choice for my last meal (if I knew ahead of time it was to be my last meal). Although I loved my Eggplant Parmigiana, I commandeered a considerable amount of Ron’s dinner.

Scallops Risotto, risotto at its finest

Not only were the scallops cooked to perfection, silky and tender, but the asparagus shavings gave the dish a nice crunch. The risotto, as sublime and skillful as it gets, was smooth and laced with nutty parmesan, just enough to complement the other ingredients. Each bite was a tapestry of flavors.

The Eggplant Parmigiana was the best I’ve tasted, a tower of meaty eggplant slices, layered with, but not overpowered by a superb sauce. It was accompanied by a side of pasta with Pomodoro sauce which was also wonderful. 

Layers of meaty eggplant and heavenly sauce

At this point, anyone else would turn down dessert, but not us.

At Mike’s suggestion, we order the Chocolate Hazelnut Budino, which he describes as a chocolate lava cake, but it’s so much more. It’s topped with a giandula sauce, whipped cream and vanilla gelato. The crispy edges of the cake and its fudgy center, combined with the gelato, is more than any chocolate lover could ever hope for. 

A chocolate lover’s delight

No matter how amazing the food is, the server can either make or break a dining experience, and Mike made the evening an extremely pleasurable one. He was welcoming and gracious, answering all our many questions about the restaurant and the food with patience and expertise. 

To cap off the dinner, Steven brings us a glass of Limoncello, and we all toast the New Year. This night couldn’t have been a better introduction to 2018.

The memory of that long-ago pasta meal in Venice has now been upstaged by the food experience we had at Taverna. And, for us, traveling to Laguna Beach (rather than Italy) doesn’t require planes, trains, or even automobiles. Well, maybe sometimes automobiles.

Ron says as we leave, “That was a magical experience.” 

And I have to agree with my husband. Just this one time.

Taverna is located at 222 Ocean Ave., 949-715-0821. 

For information about brunch, happy hour, and hours of operation, go to www.tavernabylombardi.com


CENTRAL restaurant on Forest Ave, following fire, uses the opportunity to seek feedback from locals

CENTRAL Laguna Beach, an upscale, American New Fusion restaurant on Forest Ave, suffered an afternoon fire that severely damaged the property on Fri, Dec 29, three days before New Year’s Eve. 

Investigators determined the fire was an accident and nobody was injured. 

“Being a part of the Laguna Beach community has been an honor and rewarding over the past two years,” said Anna Montoya, Managing Partner. “We are grateful for the support and patience we’ve received from the locals and regulars.” 

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Happy crowd at Central prior to the fire

Over the past two years, CENTRAL has entertained a steady stream of Laguna Beach locals, tourists and a host of celebrities and other notables including Doug McLaughlin, Founder of Nobleman Magazine. The space has also been filmed as a location on the Real Housewives of Orange County. 

“As much as we want to get this rocking and rolling again we need to make sure it’s perfected and ready to run efficiently as one of the best restaurants in Laguna again.” said Taylor McKinney, managing partner. “We’re committed to making the dining experience more intimate and fostering a genuine, timeless atmosphere.” 

The visionary team at CENTRAL is using this as an opportunity to take feedback from the local Laguna Beach community and enhance the overall experience to create a custom restaurant built with input from regulars – hopeful to make the wish list items for their favorite restaurant come true. 

With a mountain to climb the team at CENTRAL remains positive and is scheduled to re-open to the public the week of Feb 26. 

For more information, visit www.centrallagunabeach.com.

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

Lana Johnson, Editor - Lana@StuNewsLaguna.com

Tom Johnson, Publisher - Tom@StuNewsLaguna.com

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: Editor@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.

949.212.1499

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

© 2022 2S Publishing, LLC - All Rights Reserved.