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Need suggestions for one fabulous dinner in Laguna

Will be in Laguna next week and need suggestions for one fabulous meal (money no object), have already been to the Studio and Hush, any suggestions?

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  1. Go 3 miles south to the St. Regis and go to Stonehill Tavern. Sapphire in Laguna is also highly reccomended.

    9 Replies
    1. re: 1000steps

      Thank you very much, I just checked their websites and both do look wonderful. Is there one that might have an edge in terms of overall atmosphere?

      1. re: susabella

        Stonehill. I found Sapphire to be very loud and a bit too trendy.
        I liked Stonehill a lot, both the food and the atmosphere.

        1. re: mangia

          Definitely Stonehill. Sapphire is good, but very crowded, noisy, and often does not honor reservations in a timely fashion. Although the food at Sapphire is good, it certainly is not fabulous...actually nothing in Laguna Beach is.

          The Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis is very nice and definitely a special occasion restaurant...but also it's food, albeit quite good, is certainly not fabulous. If you choose Stonehill for your special meal, consider requesting one of the booths in the bar area. They are very comfortable, quiet, and totally surrounded by glass...so you almost feel like you are in a private dining room from which you can look out. Only thing...the booths do not look out towards the ocean. This is not a big drawback in this restaurant which is at least a mile from the ocean. If you want to stay in the Laguna area, and are not concerned re cost, this is for sure your best bet.

          Consider having lunch at the outdoor spa restaurant at the Montage Hotel. If you get there at about 11:15 or so, you can usually get a table with a wonderful ocean view and have a nice lunch without breaking the bank (as you probably did at The Studio).

          Another restaurant with a wonderful setting is the Beachcomber in Corona del Mar. It is literally right on the beach!! Recommend for breakfast or lunch. The food is good...but it's the setting that makes this place. They take no reservations, so go on a weekday, and prepare to wait. It is very casual.

          Thinking further about where in this part of southern CA I would go to for a "fabulous" meal, I am pretty much drawing a blank. I've lived in this area for many years and know the restaurant scene pretty well. I guess my top picks would be Marche Moderne (in Costa Mesa), Tradition by Pascal (in Newport Beach) and Bistango (in Irvine). Each of these is within 20-30 minutes of Laguna Beach and serves excellent food in a very nice setting. If you truly want a fabulous experience, you should go to The Hobbit in Orange. Check out their website at: www.hobbitrestaurant.com Dining at The Hobbit is definitely a very memorable and wonderful all-evening experience.

          1. re: josephnl

            Thank you for your very thorough and interesting post. I'm looking at all of these places on-line. Stonehill sounds excellent If you have a chance, where would you recommend for just a very nice casual upscale exerience in Laguna or Newport? (just in case we decide at the last minute to stay an extra day). I did read all about the Beachcomber, it looks promising but is the food as good as the setting? Or at least close? Or do you know of another place that would be better? Thanks again.

            1. re: susabella

              In addition to Tradition by Pascal which I mentioned earlier, I would consider the Pelican Grill at the Pelican Hill Golf Course. I have not been there, but the setting is wonderful overlooking the golf course and coast and I understand that the food is quite good. I'm wanting to try this soon. Both of these restaurants are very upscale, but like all of southern CA, nice casual dress is fine. Bayside in Newport (owned by Bistango, and almost as good) is very nice and upscale casual. If you like sushi, Bluefin in Newport Coast is one of the very best in the area...not quite in a league with Nobu, but almost. It's pricey, but worth it...I love it!!

              The food at the Beachcomber is good, but not the equal of the setting. It's great for a casual & fun breakfast or lunch.

              Do NOT let anyone talk you into trying to go to Javier's in Newport Coast. This place is the hottest thing to hit Newport in years. Although the setting is great, it is an absolute mob scene at present, and I understand that the food is very hit-or-miss.

              1. re: josephnl

                If you want to split dinner into 2 parts, I would suggest going to the Montage for a cheese tasting. My friend took me there 2 years ago. It was really special. Got to spend time with the cheesemonger, tasting various cheeses with accompaniments. then, we chose which ones we liked and a cheese plate was made for us. Maybe do this as a dessert course, paired with you favorite dessert beverage.

                1. re: josephnl

                  I agree with everything, except for Pelican Hill Grill - I thought it very overpriced & food not so great. Go for drinks and realize there's no view after dark.

                  We REALLY like Bayside!

                  1. re: torta basilica

                    Thanks for the input re the Pelican Grill. As I said in my last post, I have not eaten there so cannot vouch for the food. Indeed, it is managed by the Islands Hotel in Newport Beach which does not have great food. Too bad, the location of Pelican Hill is great.

                    Yes...Bayside (and its Irvine sibling, Bistango) are terrific restaurants with very dependable food and service and wonderful decor. We especially like Bistango which has been open for 20+ years and still looks ultramodern. Their steaks, chops, and fish dishes never fail to please.

                  2. re: josephnl

                    I would avoid Tradition by Pascal. This used to be a great restaurant and my husband and I dined their frequently. Unfortunately, we were there a month ago where another diner became verbally abusive to someone else at his table and the situation was brought to Pascal's attention. Pascal refused to remove the customer. The customer continued his behavior through dinner and then proceeded to punch his dinner companion (who appeared to be his wife) outside the front of the restaurant. My husband and another waiter broke up the fight and the police were called. While the food was wonderful, I can no longer recommend this restaurant, especially in light of the fact that we wrote a long letter to Pascal explaining our dissatisfaction with his handling of the situation and were completely ignored.

                    For a fabulous meal and much better atmosphere, I'd go to Onotria (Italian wine country cuisine) in Costa Mesa.

        2. The suggestions on this thread are all dramatically better than Hush. Its tough to beat the combination of the view and the food at the Studio. However, two comments - Marche Moderne in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa is freeway close to Laguna, and has been the talk of this board for the past year. Its simply excellent and only getting better. If you want to stay coastal, A Restaurant just opened on PCH in Newport Beach, and has been generating a fair amount of positive chatter (although I have not been there and can't vouch for it).

          1 Reply
          1. re: lawdog262

            Couldn't agree with you more re Marche Moderne. It's a terrific spot.

            I would avoid A Restaurant, at least the time being. It has become the trendy in-place in Newport and is probably not worth it. I tried to stop by for a drink tonite to check it out. It was impossible to get in the door at 4:45 PM and the noise level was out of sight. Needless to say, I will wait a bit before returning.

          2. I was looking at the website for Pelican Hill Golf Resort and the Grill, wow, it is really quite lovely. I'm thinking that might be a great dinner place. The menu looks very good and the view is spectacular. Thanks for all the suggestions!

            1. After making several recommendations to you, I am curious as to where you went for your "one fabulous dinner" and whether or not it was truly fabulous?