Editor’s Note: As you may know already, I chose to be a “secret guest” at the Montage Laguna Beach recently to report back to my faithful LagunaBeachBest.com readers. See related articles at the bottom of this article. THIS one is all about the FOOD.   

[singlepic id=370 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=left]OK, let’s tackle this from the start – As restaurants in Laguna Beach go, the Montage Resort does not focus its menu offerings in the “Plates Under $12″ category.

Granted, the internationally renowned Montage serves up very decent (sometimes amazing) food, but this is not a place you’re going to go for “happy hour grub.” Got that?

The Montage Laguna Beach offers 3 restaurants” The Loft, The Studio, and Mosaic.

[singlepic id=384 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=right]The Loft Montage sits inside the Montage on the 4th floor with ocean view interior and full-length patio. When you’re sitting here on the open-air patio, you might start to feel like a 1920s version of Gatsby or Rockefeller – it’s simply a plush experience. I visited for breakfast and lunch, but it serves as the hotel’s “all-day food spot” as it’s open from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

When I visited over the weekend, I enjoyed my own “Build Your Own Omelets” (more than 20 items to choose from with a hefty serving of fresh fruit salad on the side), and fresh-squeezed pear juice. With decaf coffee and fresh cream, and a very attentive server who called me by name from beginning to end, I felt entirely spoiled rotten, though lighter in the wallet to the tune of $28.

At lunch the next day, I returned to the Loft’s swank patio to wade through an internationally-astute menu offering the likes of quinoa tabuli, seared yellowtail nicoise salad, grilled lamb sandwich, a surprising veal schnitzel and a good ol’ American BBQ burger with avocado and flash-fried onion rings. I finally landed on the sautéed halibut on parmesan bread. It arrived promptly (accompanied with way-too yummy vinegar-and-salt fries and a nifty two-sauce option. With plain old water as my drink of choice, the tab came to … yep, $28.

[singlepic id=387 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=right]The Studio at ocean point of the Montage grounds is one of the priciest restaurants in town. Few locals I know have eaten there … then again, maybe I’m not hanging with that crowd! … and I honestly haven’t tried it. (Some day, LagunaBeachBest.com will be kind enough to hand me an expense account, and I’ll be the first in line!) Menu options such as veal rib eye, Alaskan halibut and filet mignon start at about $50 and range up to the $90 Maine Lobster. The Studio offers the finest in appetizers in the form of caviar, oysters, strawberry gazpacho and seared fois gras. And, it provides a gorgeous chef’s tasting menu that includes (to name a few) swordfish, duck breast, truffle brie and summer apricots. The tasting menu is $125 per person, $200 with paired wine.

The Montage’s Mosaic Bar & Grille is one of my favorite poolside/beachside bars in Laguna Beach. Each year when the time changes, I trek from my place down the beach to Mosaic to toast the new incoming season and say goodbye to the one looking in its rearview mirror at me. It’s one of my  – yes, odd, but – favorite traditions.

[singlepic id=386 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=left] The Montage’s outdoor Mosaic is small – 8 seats at the bar, perhaps 15 tables on its patio. It offers a more “casual fare” menu – almost 3 times’ the size of the Loft’s – with primary focus on salads, sandwiches, burgers and fresh fish at lunch. While largely a lunch and “happy hour” place, the Mosaic also opens early for breakfast on SUNDAY ONLY with all the basics – French Toast, breakfast burrito, omelet, 2-egg-specials.

The lunch and dinner menus at Mosaic are extensive – I tried the Tropical Shrimp Ceviche Taco appetizer ($24) and loved it – the shrimp was actually marinated in coconut milk, and it was a real delight. Other apps include crabcakes, calamari, and a neat Ahi Tartare tower. The burger and meat/fish/veggie sandwich list goes on and on for pages at lunch. For dinner, items range from Tofu Stir Fry ($29) to Surf and Turf ($55) and Baby Back Ribs ($43).

Of course, the bar at the Mosaic caters to every whim and fancy, and those bartenders are busy, boy howdy. Not only are they in charge of handling their own crowd, but they’re responsible for the entire poolside crowd as well, which resides just a sidewalk’s crossing away from the entrance of the Mosaic. These are well-trained, talented bartenders who cater beautifully to a higher-end crowd. I was impressed.

As a Laguna Beach local, would I sup often at the Montage Resort? No, not often. We have so much great food fare throughout Laguna Beach that we locals are kept busy enough with the many options outside the Montage grounds. And, as noted, the Montage Laguna Beach prices its menu options substantially higher than similar fare at many of the finer restaurants in Laguna Beach. It’s the Montage’s overall atmosphere, though, along with the high-level service and phenomenal view, that makes the Montage restaurants worth even an occasional visit  from locals and nearby residents. It’s satisfying spoilage.

And speaking of which, let’s move on to a separate entry on the piece de resistance – the Montage Lobby Lounge.

For related articles about the Montage in this blog see:

The Montage Laguna Beach is an Opulent Treat for Guests and Locals Alike 

The Montage Laguna Beach: The Satisfying Lobby Lounge

The Montage Laguna Beach: Wine Tasting Weekly Events (for guests and locals alike)

The Montage Laguna Beach: Annual Holiday Tree Lighting

The Montage Laguna Beach: Annual Easter Egg Hunt & Eggstravaganza 

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