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Thanks for the recs - update on O.C. Laguna eats w/pics

Clare K Mar 20, 2007 11:12 AM

Pics here: http://rainydaysandsundays-c.blogspot...

Thanks to all who recommended restaurants for my quick trip down to Dana Point/Laguna. We chose 230 Forest Avenue restaurant for dinner. The place was packed, and we had to wait a while to be seated in spite of reservations, but we were also running a bit late thanks to a very slow cab driver. We sat at the bar and ordered two glasses of Hess Select Cab Sav, one of my favorite wines, and within 10 minutes were escorted to our table.

The bread, hot and fresh, came in a paper bag and was served with a side of olive butter. Now usually I don't like olives, but the butter was actually quite good. And the bread was crusty on the outside, and nice flaky, buttery wonder on the inside.

We started with two appetizers: the roasted beet salad with hazelnut crusted goat cheese and shallot vinaigrette, and the prosciutto wrapped shrimp with mozzarella, herb pesto and young basil. The roasted beets could have been cooked a little longer, but overall the dish was very good - especially the goat cheese. And the shrimp dish was perfect and an interesting combination of flavors. The fresh mozzarella was a nice contrast to the tangy pesto and salty prosciutto. A winning combo.

The service at 230 Forest was spot-on and they clearly know how to handle their stuff even on the busiest of nights. We had both forgotten it was St. Patrick's Day, so downtown Laguna Beach was rampant with rabid drunken types, all hungry for a good meal. Our waitress was friendly and attentive, and she kept a watchful eye without hovering or getting in the way.

For dinner, Janet ordered the wild King salmon in a saffron and tomato broth. She gave it a thumbs-up and said it tasted good. The presentation was nice and it looked appetizing, though for some reason I didn't take a bite - think I just plumb forgot!

I opted for the seared Ahi tuna with lobster mashed potatoes and edamame. The tuna was crusted with black and white sesame seeds, which was good but I think they overdid it with the sesame. I can understand the use of this nutty seed to balance a fishy fish, like mackerel, but with fish as neutral as Ahi, I don't really get the purpose. All you taste is sesame seeds. However, the fish was fresh and perfectly cooked. The accompaniment of lobster mashed potatoes was something that seems like a good idea, in theory, but it just doesn't work. I love lobster, and I love mashed pots, but together, it was like a fishy blob of paste. I don't think fish or shellfish really works as an ingredient in mashed potatoes. I think a jalapeno mash or a saffron mash would have worked better with this.

The edamame was good, and the sauce was nice as well. I liked but didn't love, sigh.

  1. brekkie_fan Mar 20, 2007 11:59 PM

    Thanks for sharing! You should check out his other restaurant sometime, Opah.

    You have a great website too. I've just bookmarked it.

    Here's mine for your reference.

    1 Reply
    1. re: brekkie_fan
      Clare K Mar 21, 2007 09:11 AM

      Thanks so much! I've heard of Opah - next time I'm down there, I'll check it out. Today I will write about a great brunch place I found down there - the name escapes me at the moment - but I'll post on Chowhound later today.

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