A Culinary Homecoming

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Mark DePalma takes Laguna Beach by storm once again with his latest venture, ReMark’s.

LBM_41_Dine_Remark_By Jody Tiongco-37

By Tess Eyrich | Photos by Jody Tiongco

Veteran restaurateur Mark DePalma has returned to an old home, Laguna Canyon Road’s Festival Center, with ReMark’s, an original take on American classics that are anything but traditional.

It’s comes as no surprise that a unique sense of community defines the atmosphere at ReMark’s. A majority of the restaurant’s clientele is familiar: couples, families, friends who frequented Mark’s several previous establishments, including the iconic Mark’s on Pacific Coast Highway, shuttered in 2003. That people want to return—and do, frequently—is a testament to Mark’s warmth and to the culinary skill of Executive Chef Martin Gonzalez, with whom Mark has partnered for 27 years.

ReMark’s features an original take on American classics.
ReMark’s features an original take on American classics.

The Los Angeles-based chef regularly travels south to develop new options for the restaurant’s ever-evolving menu, which often features limited-run items based on seasonal ingredients.

Those ingredients’ eclectic flavors are evident in all of the restaurant’s dishes, beginning with its smaller plates. Take the ReMark’s salad, which is something of a study in contrasts. Fresh mango is artfully blended with baby bay shrimp, while a sliced whole avocado adds texture to the display. Crispy green fried tomatoes, served with a smoky chipotle ranch dipping sauce, just may be considered the restaurant’s signature appetizer.

In terms of entrees, most ReMark’s diners will find themselves confronted by perhaps the ultimate foodie dilemma: steak or seafood? “It all depends on what you like,” Mark says of the decision. “[The dishes] are all so different.” Luckily, patrons can rest assured that satisfaction will follow either choice.

The ahi tower is one of the restaurant’s most skillfully crafted selections. Pieces of diced ahi are stacked into a column and served alongside fried tortilla wedges. Still, it’s impossible to deny that the true stars of this seafood show are the scallops, which arrive saturated in a delectable white wine garlic sauce.

The ahi tower arrives with fried tortilla wedges.
The ahi tower arrives with fried tortilla wedges.

Dedicated carnivores would do well to sample one of the singular beef dishes served at ReMark’s. The prime short ribs—Mark’s favorite dish—deliver unparalleled succulence and rest beautifully against a bed of Gorgonzola risotto.

The best part of the restaurant’s offerings is their affordability. Mark has made it a priority to price each item with astonishing generosity; in fact, nothing on the menu exceeds $20, and most items fall in the $8 to $12 range. It’s a deliberate attempt to counter the sense of exclusivity that affects much of coastal Southern California’s fine dining scene. And it’s working. LBM   

ReMark’s

853 Laguna Canyon Rd.; 949-715-8700; remarkslagunabeach.com

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 5-10:30 p.m.

Price: $4.50-$18.75 (appetizers, entrees,  desserts and cocktails)

Tip: Stop by this fall/winter to sample seasonal additions to the menu, including updated desserts like pumpkin cheesecake and bread pudding.

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