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Jul 22, 2007 01:46 PM

Stonehill Tavern : is it best restaurant in OC?

After several experiences at Stonehill at St. Regis in Dana Point a fellow diner suggested that this may be the best restaurant currently in OC. They challenged me to think of one clearly better. I was puzzled and could not readily think one which is better. Can you and why?

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  1. I'm dying to try this place. I went in one night to check it out. I heard a lot about it and after seeing it was blown away by the decor. I just haven't had time to go there. Whats the food like? The decor was very San F/NYC and thats me me me. I felt like I was in one of my restaurants actually. Ok, well my wife and I will have to get our bums down there and try it out.

    1. I'd say Studio. Now... this could be totally erroneous info, but I was told Stonehill is being Mina's from people that dined there last night... Maybe an old cocktail napkin? I'm thinking they said 'Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern' & they missed the last part. They were pretty positive, but this is the first I've heard of anything... They really enjoyed sitting on the patio, though, much more than the time we sat inside.

      1 Reply
      1. re: torta basilica

        I'm not sure what your saying being Mina's? But if you guys are talking about Stonehill Tav being owned by Mina you are right. Also Tony Chi the designer is part owner as well.

        I've been to the Studio, it was an incredible experience and very good. Went to the Loft as well and that was just ok. Nothing to write home about but very professional in there. Food was ok.

      2. It's one of the best, though I hesitate to say *the* best, not having tried Studio.

        See my report here:

        3 Replies
        1. re: kevin h

          Kevin: super review. How would you rank the top 6 or 8 rectaurants in OC?

          1. re: kel

            Unfortunately I haven't had enough experience in OC to make that call (I usually head up to LA for my dining needs). My guess is that Stonehill would be near the top however.

          2. re: kevin h

            In my experience Studio was far less than stellar. Prices were north of what you'd pay at Providence, Spago, Melisse or Valentino. Yes, Studio was MORE expensive. The seared foie gras appetizer (at $42!!!) was not cooked through... I don't mean rare/molten in the middle like it's supposed to be, I mean the middle was rock hard - felt slightly FROZEN. Other dishes failed to impress, not horrible, but certainly not world class. However, the service was very good, the room is gorgeous, the setting beautiful and the view is amazing. Food is a 6 or 7 on scale of 1 to 10. I can see that they might get to an 8, but they are charging prices at a 10+ level.

          3. Definitely one of the best, though I'm speaking from a single experience only. My wife and I ordered the tasting menu and wine pairings. The service was excellent, several dishes were of a very high caliber, though the duck was overcooked. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wines paired with the tasting menu -- and with the bourbon paired with dessert. We would definitely go back -- especially after a massage at the spa on the premises.

            1. I guess it depends on what you regard as best. I LIKE Stonehill Tavern, but perhaps since it is a Mina restaurant, I expect more out of it? I've done both the tasting menus and the trios, and usually there is at least one dish that I find mediocre, either in preparation (over / under cooked) or just execution (what were they thinking?). Or certain wine pairings with their TMs don't work at all. Now I understand that a chef has to take certain risks in order to expand their repertoire and skills, but if I rally wanted that, I would have frequented Bastide more often in it's gummy bear / root beer days.

              As for Studio, I think the cooking there is superior- very good, but not transcendent,yet something always rubs me wrong about the service- proper, but stiff to the point of robotic, yet always with a sense of haughtiness / arrogance. Smiles never returned- feeling like they are just putting up with us for a few hours. The food is not THAT good. Oh, and the vaunted view is only available from about 15% of the tables- and if you go in the Winter, you're just staring out into a inky blackness anyways.

              If I had to choose between the two, I would take Stonehill, since it has a more comfortable feel to it, and atmosphere is important to me, especially when contrasting the two places. However, to answer the OP, I can only cop out and say I don't know. There are a lot of very good restaurants in OC, but none that I would consistently go to as "The Best"- it just depends on what the desire is for that particular evening.

              Now if Providence or Spago were in OC...