When the Sentinel Restaurant owners first took over the old Beach House, John Nye felt an immediate connection to the wood paneled bar, even as worn and dark as it was.
“As soon as I saw this place, I knew it was going to be a primary piece in our story moving forward,” says Nye. “It had all this amazing character and grace that I don’t think anyone had really seen for decades.”
Now called the “Stateroom Laguna Beach,” this renewed masterpiece bar is a definite placeholder in a trifecta of success that also makes up The Deck and the Driftwood Kitchen. Originally the library for a silent film star who built this mansion in the 1920s, much of the classic look and feel is still in play. As this is an historical landmark, the new owners had to find a way to make the bar more of a centerpiece instead of something you passed through (around the old fish tank if you remember) to get to the hostess stand.
“This beautiful bar was so under-utilized,” says Nye. “So, we replaced the copper bar and raised it up for actual bar stool seating, and we took out the fish tank and added the leather couches …” he pauses as he surveys the revitalized room … “Now, you can feel the real energy of the bar. As classic and historical as it is, it’s also taken on this modern, hip kind of feel,” he says.
A Hip Destination With Foodie Food
As we move into June, Stateroom is decidedly stepping into full hipster mode as it has begun serving “Liquid Homage and Late Night Cravings” until midnight. Finally, Laguna Beach has an upscale, titillating late night option with food fare that starts well above your standard bar fare of chicken wings or poppers. (After all, this is Chef Rainer we’re talking about.)
Remember, Chef Rainer, John and the rest of the management crew arrived in Laguna only after creating success in larger, bustling metropolitan arenas. The Stateroom, with its classic mixology and menu items, could easily be that favorite bar you slip into on a Westwood or Tribeca corner.
Every Late Night Food Item Is $3 Off
“Last call at The Deck is 9:30 p.m. and even our hotel’s room service (Pacific Edge) stops at the same time,” says Nye. “So, here your chance to move into the Stateroom and stake your claim at the fireplace or at the firepit just outside.
“Or, pull up a barstool and order our Yellowfin Tuna Tacos or Stuffed Squash Blossoms,” he says. “You can even order the Butcher Steak if you’re really hungry. We worked on creating a variety of foods for any appetite.”
The Late Night Cravings Menu offers the same number of items as Stateroom’s regular bar menu but with one difference – you save $3 on every plate your order after 9:00 p.m.
Looking for something light to share with a friend? Try the Squash Blossoms stuffed with Ricotta atop heirloom tomato sauce, an absolutely savory, mildly crunchy treat.
Not interested in sharing? The Grilled Shrimp & Dates is my go-to favorite with two sauces of sweet pepper and salsa verde to dip and dab. Trust me on this one – you’re not going to want to share even the tiniest bite of this lovely dish.
Settling in with a small group of friends? Try the hearty cheese or meat boards (and maybe add Chef’s crazy-making Kennebec Fries on the side).
From towering Grilled Artichokes to Grilled Spanish Octopus and righteously plump Crab Cakes, this is a late night menu you’re going to be craving every hour of the day.
Crafty Cocktails On Tap, Too
When I say cocktails are on tap at Stateroom, I mean it literally. Ever the innovator, Nye borrowed from the beer taps world to create his own chilled craft cocktails on tap.
Order a Stateroom favorite – the Negroni, for example – and the bartender simply flips a lever for a pre-melded mix of Campari, gin, vermouth and bitters. He finishes the drink with an orange zest flourish and it’s on its way to you. Or, opt for the Barrel Aged Manhattan, the Stateroom’s signature bourbon concoction and, in mere seconds, the chilled specialty is planted on the coaster in front of you.
“I had seen this idea in play in a couple restaurants and it made so much sense,” says Nye.
“The taps have proven such a great solution for efficiency and speed. And, everything is pre-batched, which lends so much flavor depth to the drink because it’s had more time to mix and meld.”
As it turns out, Nye has implemented ‘cocktail taps’ for The Deck as well. “We do a lot of the popular fruity drink foundations on tap,” he says. “So, the bartender just adds the particular fruit muddle – maybe watermelon or cranberries – and you immediately have this sublime, perfectly chilled drink.”
Extend Your Perfect Evening
Whether it’s fruity concoction or a scotch for sipping, Stateroom Laguna Beach will undoubtedly be pouring a new fun and sophisticated vibe throughout the coming summer months.
“We want to be that place you choose when you’re just not in the mood for the typical late night bar scene,” says Nye. “This is the place you go to luxuriate in Laguna Beach.”
Well said, John. Indeed, this could very well be The Summer of the Stateroom Bar.