In With The New

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Laguna’s newest upscale dining experience is already one of the best.

By Tess Eyrich | Photos by Jody Tiongco

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Beef short rib with white polenta and Gouda fondue

By now you’ve no doubt heard about Selanne Steak Tavern, the hotly anticipated dining concept from Anaheim Ducks player Teemu Selanne and partner Kevin Pratt. The restaurant, opened in November, caused quite a stir when it first took up residence in the renovated French 75 space. Whom you may not be familiar with is the person at the helm of the operation, Executive Chef Joshua Severson, who is quietly reinventing conventional steakhouse cuisine under the leadership of General Manager Jim Shumate and Director of Operations Leo Fenn.

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The recently renovated main dining room

“What we’re trying to do is five-star dining without the pretentiousness,” Leo explains of the restaurant and, so far, they’ve succeeded. Chef Joshua, whose background includes stints at restaurants ranging from Tom Colicchio’s award-winning Craftsteak in Las Vegas to SkyCity atop the Seattle Space Needle, has created a menu that’s experimental yet close enough to comfort food to leave guests feeling secure.

His signature soup, the Maine lobster cappuccino, is a fresh twist on a traditional bisque. Light, airy and topped with a dollop of creme fraiche, it’s the perfect introduction to the chef’s culinary style. For a more substantial starter, opt for the Pacific diver scallops, delightfully succulent morsels sauteed with cauliflower and pickled chanterelle mushrooms.

But perhaps the standout of the current lineup of first courses is the chef’s signature salad, the scarlet beet “ravioli”—the dish Jim confesses won the hearts of the restaurant’s ownership and management, prompting them to hire Joshua instead of a rival chef they’d previously been considering for the position. In a unique showcase of his ability, the chef creates imitation pasta using thinly sliced beets stuffed with creamy goat cheese, then tops the finished display with hazelnuts and a vinaigrette.

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Scarlet beet “ravioli” with hazelnuts and a vinaigrette

The Skuna Bay salmon is smoked in house and served atop a bed of pureed celery root—a fitting complement to the fillet’s distinctive woodiness. The beef short rib, meanwhile, offers 10 ounces of some of the most tender braised meat found in Laguna alongside white polenta and Gouda fondue.

And before you start thinking that this is the conclusion, meet pastry chef Heather Fisher, who crafts explosive finales to meals at Selanne with home-style treats like her Southern-inspired monkey bread, which incorporates cinnamon, caramelized pecans and house-made maple ice cream.

Selanne Steak Tavern is here to stay, and it’s elevating Laguna’s dining scene in the process. LBM

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