OK, OK, OKAY! Stop bugging me!
Sheesh, you people keep peppering me with requests on where you REALLY should go for Restaurant Week in Laguna Beach (starts next week, Feb. 23 – March 1st), and I’m supposed to be something of a Switzerland here. I think ALL 18 restaurants participating are all very decent restaurants – not a loser in the bunch.
Apparently, this isn’t good enough for you.
I could be stoned in the streets for this, but here goes . . .
I wouldn’t choose a chain restaurant if I were you – though they’re consistently great in food delivery, you can get their food elsewhere, outside of Laguna Beach. This is supposed to be an amazing Laguna Beach experience for you, so let’s focus on the indy chefs that are making it happen.
So, that cuts 2 of the 18. (Gee, what progress).
When you compare the Laguna Beach Restaurant Week prix fixe menus, you’ll find that some restaurants only offer about 3 dishes as options in the main entreé prix fixe. For me, I think Restaurant Week Laguna Beach is all about showing off your restaurant’s great creativity as long as the chef and his staff can handle the flow. I was disappointed to see that a couple of my leading favorites didn’t offer many options, so I’m not recommending them. I want you to have plenty of options to choose from.
If you can only make it for lunch choose two of the most talented chefs in town (not to mention oceanside dining at both):
For dinner, here are my Top 5 Restaurant Week Laguna Beach recommendations in alphabetical order:
370 Common, $40/per, click for the menu. Their 1st course Kale Salad is the best in Laguna Beach, and their Calamari offers a great twist. 2nd course, I’d go with the Squash and Hazelnut Risotto (hallelujah) or the Pork Loin with mac n’ cheese and apple slaw (sin, absolute decadent sin).
Lumberyard, $30/per, click for the menu. While this is a locals’ favorite and a casual place to hang your hat, remember that Owner Cary Redfearn was the mastermind creator behind the venerable Corona Del Mar’s Oysters before transporting Chef Armando Ortega from there to here. For entrées, I’d recommend the untoppable Cedar Planked King Salmon, the Prime Filet Mignon, or the Crowned Champion of Comfort Food here in Laguna Beach … The Lumberyard Chicken Pot Pie. And yes, I know they give you options on the dessert choices, but there really is no choice – Hog Heaven Pie for you.
Maro Wood Grill, $40/per, click for the menu. RSVP: (949) 793-4044.
To this day, I haven’t been able to get into Maro Grill to try it. (I know! Inconceivable!) I hear amazing reviews, however, and this is a perfect step ladder into Chef Debra Sims’ unique, “sustainable” flair.
Starfish Asian Cuisine, $30/per dinner, click for the menu. RSVP: (949) 715-9200.
If you’re an ardent reader of LagunaBeachBest.com, you know I’m an ardent fan of this South Laguna Little Restaurant That Could. While Starfish is also offering a $15 Restaurant Week lunch with a huge assortment of options, I’d recommend the dinner hour because it’s just that much livelier.
The Starfish Restaurant Week menu offers the largest number of options in small and “main” plates of the 18 restaurants, and I can safely say that there isn’t a single menu item I’d steer you away from. I’d say my favorites in the Small Plates (1st course) would be uhmm . . . laughing here . . . everything. You just can’t go wrong, but PLEASE order the Cantonese Coastal Ribs. Good glory, they’re out of this world. In the Large Plates division (the 2nd course), I’d say the Salmon Salad, the Ahi Salad, the Vietnamese Pho (I order this as a To Go item more than any other food combined in Laguna Beach), and the Bangkok Spicy Udon Noodle as options. Sadly for you, you have to choose just one.
Tabu Grill, $40/per dinner, click for the menu. RSVP: (949) 494-7743. Tabu is NOT open on Monday night.
Nancy Wilhelm’s gem, this prodigy of a restaurant is one of our highest end restaurants in town. The $40 Restaurant Week menu is a giddy gift to us all. Take advantage of it. I certainly am! While I haven’t been here in eons, I’d still be inclined to choose between the completely perfect miso marinated Sea Bass or the sumac rubbed Colorado Lamb as the entreé. I’m still torn on the desserts and salads I’ll be ordering, but I’ll let you know how the final decision goes.
Runner up: Mozambique would have to be an option I’d consider, too. $30/dinner, click for the menu. RSVP: (949) 715-7777.
Although I’ve had quite a few meals here, I can’t say that I’ve yet tried the options on the entreé options of next week’s prix fixe menu (given that Mozambique has the largest menu in Laguna Beach, this is no surprise). These folks are famous for their steaks and their South African “peri peri” chicken, and for good reason. (I DO know that their warm banana bread pudding is the dessert option you just can’t possibly pass up.)
To see all the Laguna Beach restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, click to my earlier blog entry here. I can’t say this strongly enough – reservations are highly recommended, even for lunches. This is a very busy week for Laguna Beach, the crown jewel of the OC Restaurant Week tiara.
If you feel so inclined, please share this column with your friends. It might cut down on the mass number of emails I’m receiving. Thank you kindly for your attention, though!