Montage Laguna Beach’s all-day restaurant offers fine dining in a comfortable atmosphere for vacationers, staycationers and those looking for a quick escape from everyday life.
By Linda Domingo | Photos by Jody Tiongco
Perched on the fourth floor of Montage Laguna Beach, The Loft could easily be outshone by the culinary sibling it overlooks. Studio restaurant, located a stone’s throw away within the same resort, is a beacon in the Orange County fine dining scene; however, Chef de Cuisine Casey Overton and his team at The Loft create an elegant all-day experience that stands up to its five-star surroundings.
Using local ingredients whenever possible, The Loft’s menu celebrates California cuisine with Casey’s sophisticated yet simple approach. While he rotates many of the restaurant’s plates and their accouterments with the seasons, the “less is more” philosophy is evident in starters like hamachi crudo with sugar snap peas, baby radishes and Meyer lemon dressing. In an equally fresh-tasting dish, Castroville artichoke soup is poured over crispy prosciutto, coco beans and confit garlic at the table, ensuring no flavors are lost in the journey from the kitchen.
Additionally, everything is elevated through one of the area’s top wine programs. Diners can opt for a bottle, glass or expert pairings as recommended by a Montage sommelier, who scrutinizes the ingredients of each course to select a perfectly complementary varietal. Sommeliers are also happy to explain the wines’ notes and origins tableside.
Dinner entrees are divided into three sections—harvest, sea and land—that highlight coastal bounty, including salmon with fingerling potatoes and fennel salad; and braised lamb sugo, served with baby artichokes, Roman gnocchi and cured olives. The former takes a delicately curated mix of vegetables and anchors them with a surprisingly hearty cut of fish, while the latter provides a plate of pure comfort: tender, savory meat with warm pasta and a touch of acidity provided by the artichokes and olives.
Dessert takes on many forms at The Loft. A fromagier can provide guidance to the cheese collection of more than 150 varieties, all of which can be paired with honeys, compotes, jams, nuts or fruit.
For a traditional last course, the caramelized hazelnut cognac souffle or fresh white-grapefruit sorbet are both standouts on a robust after-dinner menu. Or, forgo decisions with a dessert sampler of miniature tastings. Equally sweet sips, including ice wine, passito and apple ice cider, are available on the dessert libations menu to round out the evening.
The Loft’s coveted outdoor seating provides spectacular views of the Montage Mosaic Pool with the Pacific in the background, which can also be enjoyed over breakfast, lunch or a quick cocktail; however, the restaurant’s understated elegance and panorama are best savored over long evenings, multiple courses and too many glasses of wine.
Tip: For yet another way to experience The Loft, the adjacent bar area, The Loft Bistro, has its own light menu that includes salads, small plates and casual entrees.
The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach
30801 S. Coast Hwy.
6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily