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Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach


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Five-star hotel property Montage Laguna Beach is beloved for its spacious hotel rooms, sprawling views, and unbeatable service. While those attributes often lend themselves to impeccable food service, it might not always translate into the most creative of cuisines. But Executive Chef Craig Strong of the property’s five-star Studio Restaurant is changing that misconception and reinventing the definition of California cuisine.

Strong has been at the helm of Studio since 2009, with a deep background in French and Spanish cuisines, having worked as the Sous Chef for The Newport Room at the Hotel Arts in Barcelona. Since that unforgettable experience, Strong became passionate about Mediterranean cuisine, he told The Daily Meal. His food philosophy now continues to have a heavy emphasis on cooking with ingredients like olive oil, fresh seafood and fragrant herbs which he grows on the restaurant’s own herb garden.

Most recently, Strong updated his menu to incorporate fresh fall flavors even in the midst of Southern California. The menu showcases dishes such as a classic risotto with mascarpone cheese and a John Dory fish dish paired with wilted gem lettuce. Strong believes in basic pairings with two unlikely items that come together to build a uniquely special dish, such as a crab and vanilla dish served with micro orchards topped with vanilla that comes directly from the orchid itself. As for his wild-caught Alaskan salmon dishes, he pairs it with root vegetable ribbons and a bean herb sauce fume made out of the bones of the fish and whole grain mustard.

He’s also well known in local circles for his vegetarian tasting menus that incorporate a variety of dishes, some often mimicking pasta dishes such as: the beet and goat cheese ravioli with basil, smoked almonds and balsamic vinegar. Strong is more than amenable to those with food allergies, sensitivities and preferences. Not only can they cater to vegetarians, but he is also well versed in making gluten free dishes as well as dairy free creations.

Strong often credits his unwavering team behind him who help execute dinner service night after night for the most sophisticated of travelers and eaters. Unlike many chefs, Strong keeps his cool in the kitchen, he attests. He believes a kitchen should run in a manner similar to a symphony, giving each of his line cooks the freedom to execute their dishes, while coming altogether to hit the high notes when necessary, particularly when creating their tasting menus.

Location and aesthetics also play into the overall picture of what a dining experience is like at Studio. With sweeping views of the cliffs and a sandy beach below with stunning sunsets, Strong utilizes this beautiful backdrop to his advantage.

There’s simply nothing quite like indulging in one of Chef Strong’s simply executed and extremely thoughtful tasting menus—perhaps with a wine pairing---while watching the sun dip down over the Pacific Ocean. If you’ve been there once, you’ll certainly crave a second visit. The place is simply addictive.


Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?

Farm to Table California Cuisine Shines at the Montage Laguna Beach - Recipes

“You’re never late at the Montage Laguna Beach”

– James Bermingham, General Manger

Spring has sprung: here’s an easy, great getaway for a long weekend, or treat yourself to an entire week.
Part One:

The Dining Duo has stayed at all the hotels in Laguna—and north and south of it—and there simply isn’t anything in the category of The Montage. In fact, we’ve heard it referred to as the first and only 𔄞 star” resort. Exuding simple elegance, the groupings of low-rise buildings sprawl along the coastline and feel as though they’ve been perched above the ocean forever. That said, the furnishings, décor, and treatments are as fresh and new as if they were just installed before we arrived.

We can’t wait to get to our two-bedroom suite, 370/371, and notice all at once that the hotel is extremely quiet. It’s not because folks aren’t here, as the occupancy always runs extremely high, but it’s because there is a distinct absence of maid’s carts, slamming doors, and luggage racks. The bellmen carry the luggage to the room (poor guys) and the housekeeping staff seems to slither by with almost otherworldly stealth.

The Aliso suite--with approximately 1700 square feet-- has double doors that swing open to a luxuriously large living room, anchored by a large fireplace, a big comfy sofa and writing desk. Tones of olive green on the walls and a pale yellow and beige on the floors surrounded by clean white moldings comfort our sensibilities and draw our eyes to the star attraction, the Pacific Ocean beyond. A giant balcony complete with inviting outdoor furniture sweeps from the living room to the bedrooms situated on each side. Just inside the front door is a powder room for guests, a thoughtful touch for a hotel suite with two other large bathrooms. Early California oils are thoughtfully scattered throughout, lending a feeling serenity.

The shower has a mirror thoughtfully installed into the marble for shaving, and a little marble bench for shaving one’s legs, assuming that’s something either of the Dining Duo does or maybe it’s just a little shelf so we can admire our legs whilst showering. The other bedroom is smaller than the master, but it has it’s own entrance, it’s own views, its own fabulous bathroom, and is perfect for sharing the suite with friends, and yet not sharing every moment together.

THE LOFT (for lunch…dinner at this delightful restaurant comes later)

We slide into our seats and prepare for a scrumptious lunch. A plate of select warm homemade breads, including our favorite, the warm and crispy pretzel, is rushed to the table. We started with the Shrimp cocktail ($19), which includes six gigantic shrimp with perfectly spiced horseradish cocktail sauce. Scott had the Halibut sandwich ($24) that was so uniquely tasty and included some mystery spices that made the sandwich practically slide down his throat in a single gulp. The accompanying fresh fruit was so fresh it seemed like someone just picked it outside the restaurant.

Do not miss their grass fed burgers here. They are a force to be reckoned with and at $25, Chef’s Black Bistro Burger with truffle butter and hints of garlic, are one of the best combinations that we have experienced in all of Orange County.

It’s the little things that make a restaurant a great experience. There was a little salt spilt on the table, and a busboy rushed over to clean it. The breadbasket emptied rapidly, and it was replaced without asking. This place invented service, and it’s a microcosm of the entire hotel. Clearly the omnipresent General Manger, James Bermingham’s motto that one is “never late” for anything here is meant to convey the philosophy that we are the boss, no matter what we want or desire.

Studio at the Montage,

30801 S. Coast Hwy.,
Laguna Beach,
(949) 715-6420

www.studiolagunabeach.com. Open for dinner Wed.-Sun., 6-10 p.m. Starters, $23-$29 entrées, $43-$53 chef’s tasting menu, food only, $125-$175 per person with wine pairings, $200-$250. Full bar.

Perched at the end of the bluff just overlooking the ocean, we can think of no finer spot to enjoy the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean than this fine-dining establishment, headed by the handsome Chef extraordinaire, Craig Strong.

When Jimmy Boyce moved on to open his own restaurant in the south, the constantly dapper Food and Beverage Manager, Victorio Gonzalez, who originally hails from Mexico City, sought to find the next incarnation for this modernistic craftsman masterpiece. Stealing Craig away from the The Langham, the former Ritz Carlton Pasadena, they gave him the liberty of designing his own menu that is both whimsical and fabulously beyond reproach.

The main room is both lofty and warm at the same time. It is filled with wood and glass, with views every direction, and the beams up and over your head create dimensions and shapes that keep the eye amused. There is a long communal table for those wishing to share, and the bar is in the center of the room, creating both a visually beautiful and romantic space. The tables are not on top of each other, so no matter where you sit, you feel as though you have the privacy to share a meal with a loved one without being disturbed.

The Captain, Miguel, is as handsome as the restaurant is attractive, and certainly made for a good start to the night.

Despite the model-like good looks, he—and the rest of the staff—does not have an ounce of attitude, and their sole goal is to please their customers and create a wonderful dining experience. The sommeliers, a group of six, are young and very knowledgeable. Ours was en route to becoming one of the few master sommeliers around the globe. Every course we enjoyed was paired with a new and interesting wine, and his description and enthusiasm for the wines he was pouring was inspiring, increasing the anticipation of trying that particular selection.

Chef Craig will accommodate anyone with any tastes, allergies, likes or dislikes, and all with a smile on his face. We were told that the night before we dined there, a table of vegans came in wanting just vegetarian meals, and he whipped it up to their total satisfaction. We strongly suggest trying the tasting menu, or asking him to cook for you anything he desires. We did the latter, and told him what we didn’t care for (low salt for Scott, no shrimp for Michael, for example) and he took it and ran with it, with beyond scrumptious results.

We started the superb tasting menu, with six courses, each perfectly prepared, paired with wines for a reasonable $200 per person. We are tremendous soup fans and although pea soup is not one of Scott’s favorites, he savored the sweet pea soup,

which was lightly flavored with organic mint. John Dory followed this dish accompanied with semolina gnocchi, spring onions and mussel nage. It was light yet flavorful and turned out to be the perfect starter for our meal.

All of the wine accompaniments were stellar, but since the Dining Duo craves dessert, the Uroulat, Jurancon, 2001 proved to be the standout, setting the three desserts off perfectly. Speaking of desserts, our favorite was the warm strawberry shortcake, which proved to be a total “wow” even though it wasn’t the mandatory chocolate.

Chef Craig can and will pop in and out of the dining room, more fully describing the evening’s events than he could do in the main dining room. Set with a stunning long wood table and fine, and interesting china (such as the “sea foam plates” that look just like it sounds), the room is anchored by a large fireplace and a rack of rare wines. This is where the Dining Duo is going next…does anyone care to join us with the other 10 seats?


Watch the video: Montage Laguna Beach, Southern California Luxury Beach Resort with Award-Winning Spa and Dining (November 2022).