There is likely only one treat finer than knowing Chef Rainer Schwarz of Driftwood Kitchen, and that’s a hearty taste of his new spring menu.
A few evenings ago, I joined a group of food devotees at the special invite of Chef, and what a treat it was! This summer season’s refreshed Driftwood Kitchen menu is more fresh goodness with a liberal dash of Chef Rainer’s (somewhat) crazy innovation. (You simply can’t stop the man.)
Couple that with GM John Nye’s talent with specialty cocktails and wine selections, and you know you have a most interesting and entertaining evening ahead.
Nye began the evenings with three tastes of Prosecco – Prosecco Grigio (white bottle), Prosecco Blanco (gray bottle) and Prosecco Nero (black bottle) – all of which are featured on the spring/summer cocktail and wine menu.
A gorgeous Summer Squash Blossom, adorned with heirloom tomatoes and Bellweather farm ricotta and mint began the endless stream of presentations. Crispy Thai Calamari with green and papaya salad made a lasting impression on the palate with super fresh calamari married in subtle spice and heat with a spicy curry aioli. A creamy house made slaw cooled the heat just so.
The colorful tastings lined up like airplanes in queue to land at the Christmas holidays … Chef’s take on French Onion Soup – Caramelized Onion & Leek Soup – made from stock of oxtail and covered in a lid of gooey Gruyere cheese offered an unusually warmth and depth to the traditional dish.
Then, Mary’s Farm Chicken with a foie gras stuffed thigh and a lively collection of spring peas, morel mushrooms and yukon gold whipped potatoes.
Then, Grilled Colossal Tiger Prawns & Dates with salsa verde …with crispy shallots and bright micro-greens …
Then Whole Santa Barbara “Sea Stephanie Fish Uni and Yellowtail Hamachi” presented in an entire shelled uni, the uni mixed with yellowtail inside its one-of-a-kind “cereal bowl.”
Throughout, John continued to pair each tasting with a new wine, finally presenting a new signature cocktail, “Living on a Pear,” with Gray Goose Pear, muddled cucumber, basil and mint, St. Germaine and lemon juice. I could live in that pear tree a long, long time.
After less than two years, Driftwood Kitchen has quickly matured to an entity that seems to have been here many years longer. Chef Rainer and John Nye have ingratiated themselves beautifully to Laguna Beach’s unique energy with a memorable take on cuisine and cocktails all their own. It’s great to see this partnership continue to create greater depth and expansion of its combined and unique talents.