On our recent visit to the beaches of Southern California, we reviewed four new restaurants. The Argentine-inflected restaurant of the Hotel Joaquin is for guests only, but there are other Laguna Beach restaurants worthy of note, including two that opened within the past year. Alas, neither had a water view. I did find a new restaurant in Newport Beach overlooking a marina, where we had a relaxed lunch after a whale-watching cruise, but the view didn’t compensate for the inattentive service.
Opened in November 2018, this chic restaurant tucked into a quiet corner of downtown Laguna Beach has an eclectic menu with influences from all over the world. I spotted dishes from Peru, Japan, Morocco, Italy and Korea, among others. The common thread is that most are upscale comfort food. We started by sharing a Thai salad with rich duck confit, lime dressing, red pepper and red onion atop spinach, mustard greens and arugula. It had the complex mix of flavors for which Thai cuisine is famous, all in excellent balance. I also enjoyed my hearty main of wild boar loin with a coffee rub, fresh oregano and mellow grilled grapefruit. When I heard the pineapple upside-down cake came topped with black pepper ice cream, I knew we had to try it, but the ice cream could have easily passed as simple vanilla and the cake felt a touch dry. That one misstep doesn’t stop me from recommending this otherwise excellent restaurant, however.
370 Glenneyre Street, Laguna Beach. Tel. (949) 715-1530