Stonehill Tavern - can anyone tell me if this is THE place to eat?
Last year I had the Stonehill Tavern tasting menu a couple of times, and thought it was superb. I've been going to Mina's places since I lived in the Bay Area and have covered most of them in California and Las Vegas. His modern versions of comfy classics, as well as the new explorations, are almost uniformly excellent to my taste, and the wine pairings (especially off the premium list) are more than after-thoughts. Service at Stonehill has also been very professional, if a bit too businesslike from one or two servers, and the room is attractive but oddly shaped -- long and narrow -- as one occasionally finds in hotels. It's a fine place for a serious but enjoyable meal at a luxury resort.
You say you'll have just one dinner in Southern California but mention only Orange County restaurants. Is that where you will be staying? If so, you might also consider Studio (another resort restaurant), Craig Strong's new place in Laguna Beach. I'm still trying to get over there, but I greatly enjoyed Strong's cooking at the Langham (previously, the Ritz) in Pasadena, as did the little fat tire man from France. See the LA Times review of the new place here: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...
St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629
30801 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA