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Jul 3, 2009 10:04 AM

Laguna Niguel - restaurant recs?

One of my best friends and I are going to the Ritz in LN for a girls' weekend. Any recs for lunch, dinner, snacks or dessert in the area - all types and price points - would be great! Thanks!

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  1. I would highly recommend the Ritz's Sunday Champagne Brunch. It's about $75 per person, but is excellent! They have three types of great caviar, each of the food stations are stocked with quality ingredients and run by great members of their staff, and there's even a bloody mary bar. Desserts are lovely, and service is spectacular...they come pick up your plates, top of your glass, and are very attentive.

    1 Reply
    1. re: attran99

      I have to disagree totally about restaurant 162. The food is horrible, but the service and view are good. BUT the food is aweful.

    2. For sure head up the coast a few miles to the Montage in Laguna Beach. Have a casual lunch on the deck outside of their spa. The setting is magnificent, and lunch is extremely pleasant. It's definitely worth seeing the Montage.

      If you are a fan of sushi, a few miles further north in Crystal Cove is one of the very best upscale sushi restaurants in the area...Bluefin. The owner Abe worked with Nobu and is creative, and a master. It is expensive!

      8 Replies
      1. re: josephnl

        I have stayed at the Montage twice in the last couple of months and the food in the outdoor bar, the casual restaurant, and room service is universally awful and overpriced. We have had warm briny oysters, fishy smelling (you could smell it before it arrived) fish tacos, sloppy soft watery pasta, and stale hard cookies, for a start. BTW, two orders of tacos and two beers were $85.

        1. re: cls

          Well then...perhaps Heyteacher should just have a drink or a glass of wine. I still think that a visit to the Montage is a must...even if just for the view. (I had lunch on the spa deck a month ago, had a salad and a glass of wine, and it was not spectacular...but still very good) cls...I am not a huge fan of the food at the Montage, but saying the the "food is universally awful" is, I think, not a fair appraisal of this place.

          1. re: josephnl

            Granted, the location is world class.
            I have had 10-12 meals there and in my experience it was universally awful. This opinion is not based on a solitary experience. Perhaps others will differ.
            This does not include the Studio restaurant, as I have never been.

            1. re: cls

              "BTW, two orders of tacos and two beers were $85."

              Did you, by any chance, avoid eating at the Studio restaurant because the check from your home refinancing hadn't been credited to your bank account yet? ;-D>

              1. re: cls

                I'll agree with you, cls.
                The food at the BH Montage, also, isn't what it initially claimed it would be either.

                1. re: cls

                  I've stayed at the Montage many times and have eaten there 20+ times, some of which were while staying there and others of which were isolated dining experiences, and my experiences could not have been more different from yours. The food at all of the dining venues has been generally great, and one of my meals at Studio was simply extraordinary. Service, both in the hotel generally and at each of the restaurants, has always been exemplary as well. That said, the food prices have also been extraordinary and almost (but not quite) impossible to justify. A typical room service breakfast consisting of juice, coffee and omelettes for 2 costs over $100 when all is said and done, and it only gets worse from there. The Montage is, without question, the most expensive hotel I've ever stayed at or been to in terms of food prices, and, judged on food and service alone, I whole heartedly agree that it's not worth it and that you can get equal or better food elsewhere for far less. On the other hand, my personal opinion is that you are paying for the overall Montage experience, which includes, but isn't limited to, the food. When I consider the setting, the facilities, the service both in and out of the restaurants, etc., I find that the price premium is, just ever so barely, worth it. . . . on occasion. On other occasions, you're more likely to find me at Brussell's Bistro or Taco Loco.

                  1. re: krick

                    Oh, right, that reminds me. I also meant to suggest Brussels Bistro. Not my number one choice in the area, but pretty high on my list...especially for a fun, tasty, mid-priced evening.

                    Brussels Bistro
                    222 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

                    1. re: krick

                      I recently had a really wonderful dining experience at Studio and I think I can agree with krick's comments. Expensive - very - but for a special night out (which we don't do all that often), it was ideal. The view is incredible, service top notch and welcoming. We did the prix fixe menu and particularly loved the fresh hamachi, a fois gras dish, and beautifully prepared halibut. Chef Strong stopped by to greet us and inquire on how we like our dinner. All in all a very special, albeit expensive, evening.

            2. Five Crowns In Corona Del Mar is an old favorite of our family. Nothing new or inventive, but good, solid food and served nicely. I like the roast beef hash at Sunday Brunch.

              1. Ok, well it seems like we have a lot of difference of opinion here....Ramos House looks great as well as Bluefin. I will definitely look into the Ritz's brunch and Five Crowns is a chain associated with Lawry's so that's definitely out for me.

                Any other recs would be great - snacks too - ice cream, etc. Thanks!! :-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: Heyteacher

                  I was pleasantly surprised at Bluefin. Although most of the patrons were ordering crunchy, spicy, California stuff, they make respectable nigiri as well.
                  Mastro's Ocean Club is next door, and Pacific Whey is a good (although it used to be better IMO) breakfast.
                  Check out the beach bar and restaurant at Crystal Cove if you have a chance.

                  1. re: Heyteacher

                    Agree with you re Five Crowns...definitely not special.

                    As you say, the Ramos House and Bluefin are top-drawer...and although I've not been, the Ritz's brunch sounds great. If you go, please report back. And...do yourself a favor and check out the Montage, if for nothing more than a look...the setting is magnificent. Also, agree with cls that the Beachcomber Cafe in Crystal Cove (Newport Beach) is worth a look/see. It's a somewhat funky restaurant, but is literally right on the beach, and it serves a pretty decent breakfast or lunch.

                  2. Cafe Zulu is casual and has the best sea food in the area.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: BSW6490

                      You took the sWORDfiSh right out of my mouth. Love this place! Although, between you, me and the board, their sea bass is even better. And that calamari! How do they do it?

                      N.B. It's Zoolu

                      1. re: BSW6490

                        Cafe Zoolu is great. The Leech's have been in OC for many years (30+) and have always served great food, earlier at the The Quiet Woman in CDM, and now in Laguna. One caveat however...Zoolu is expensive, and although very good, because of its funky decor and service, some may think it is not worth the price. As an aside, the Quiet Woman in Newport is still going strong and remains every bit as good as when Toni & Michael Leech ran it.

                        1. re: josephnl

                          DON'T EAT AT CAFE ZOOLU!!!!!

                          (that way we'll have a table available when we want to go). ;-)