[singlepic id=158 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=left]Laguna Beach’s new Lumberyard Restaurant is within weeks of celebrating its 1-year anniversary. Happily, despite opening its doors at about the same time the world markets decided to freefall, this Laguna Beach Restaurant has enjoyed a profitable first year with locals and tourists alike.

In early 2008, many Laguna Beach longtimers felt some trepidation when their beloved Cedar Creek Restaurant closed shop at this prime location at 384 Forest Avenue. We tiptoed close and craned to look through the shrouded windows to see what all the hammering and racket was about, and wondered aloud what local architect Gregg Abel was up to in there.

When the Lumberyard threw its doors open in October 2008, we were all in for a surprise – it wasn’t even close to the same place. Even the bathrooms had been moved! Some folks think it’s a bit too dark for their taste but, frankly, I think it looks like a sleek take on … well … the inside of a lumberyard. It was, after all, THE lumberyard when construction began to take off in this seaside community in 1916.

[singlepic id=157 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=right] The historical place offers plenty of table seating, but the Lumberyard’s got to have one of the biggest saloon bars in town, rivaling the mammoth bar at The Marine Room, and even possibly surpassing the infamous Laguna Beach Saloon itself.

Enough on the character and atmosphere. Let’s get to the food.
Some locals may tell you that The Lumberyard started on shaky ground, but I’ve simply not found it to be sub-par on any visit. The Lumberyard serves up a hearty, affordable menu of salads, sandwiches and burgers, pastas,seafood and, of course, its famous Hog Heaven Pie. (I don’t know if they made up that “famous” part but I’ve tasted this deadly chocolate ganache/peanut butter mousse creation and, yes, it deserves to be famous.)

This is Laguna Beach, of course, so it can never be Plain Jane sandwiches and fish, you know. The Lumberyard has invented a number of signature dishes, including its Lumberyard Planks (flash-fried zuchini planks with lemon aioli dipping sauce), a memorable Ahi Tartare stack, Cedar Planked Mahogany Salmon, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup dip, and Chicken Pot Pie in a flaming hot dish.

The service is friendly. Not an ounce of snobbery here. The pours of wine are a full one-third glass (250 ml!), which we think is darn right nice of them, and the draft beer options are extensive.

Insider Tips for Laguna Beach’s Lumberyard Restaurant:

1. Despite their constant busy-ness, the Lumberyard offers a number of inventive specials:

  • Lunches are just $10 Monday through Friday.
  • If you choose to wine and dine Monday evenings and order food over $40 in value, you get your choice of wine from their selected list for just a dollar.
  • Happy Hour on Monday through Friday lasts 3:30 – 6:30 (now that’s some happy hours) with $6 appetizers and wine and $4 draft beers.
  • And, during Monday Night Football season, happy hour lasts the whole danged Monday evening till the last whistle is blown.

2. When you’re traipsing through this place, take a good look down. It’s the only floor in town (well, likely in the next few towns in the next few states, too) with 3,000 individually hand-laid squares of mesquite.

3. The Lumberyard decided to offer its own private label of Chardonnay and Syrah and commissioned local artist and surfer Ryan Gourley to complete the Laguna Beach-based scenic labels. They’ve made very nice work of their “house wine” – it’s worth a 1/3-bottle pour!

4. Though the bar gets to hopping after 8:30 p.m., this is no kids’ joint. Finally, 35-55 year olds (on the average) are finding a great seat at a great bar.

How to Find The Lumberyard Restaurant:

Out-of-towners never quite understand this, but The Lumberyard is at the corner of Forest and, ehrm, Forest. From Laguna’s Main Beach at Ocean and PCH, go half a block south to Forest and travel its two blocks until it dead ends at Forest. The Lumberyard is in the lovely French Normandy building on your left. Metered street parking is available as well as parking behind the restaurant on Ocean.

For reservations, call: (949) 715-3900.

© Diane Armitage, 2010, www.LagunaBeachBest.com




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