Morning Glory

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Cuisine meets couture at Anastasia Cafe, one of downtown Laguna’s tastiest breakfast spots.

By Tess Eyrich | Photos by Jody Tiongco

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The concept of Anastasia Cafe is simple: attach a gourmet restaurant to a high-end clothing boutique to create a kind of hybrid lifestyle destination. Owner Amir Gharavi, a Laguna Beach local and fashion obsessive, opened the shop at its original location in 1983, moved it to its current home on Ocean Avenue in the late 1990s and launched the adjoining cafe in 1997. According to Amir, the casual eatery serves the important function of drawing in guests who may be initially intimidated by the boutique’s more avant-garde offerings.

“We opened the cafe to popularize [the boutique], to make it easier for people to come in who might otherwise be afraid,” he says. The restaurant has since become a community institution, attracting both regulars and out-of-towners alike with uncomplicated Mediterranean-influenced fare.

Open till 3 p.m. daily, the cafe specializes in breakfast and light lunch dishes.  Other offerings include an airy dining room, a sun-drenched patio and an evolving menu of daily specials.

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The caramel French toast is arguably the star of the current roster. Thick slices of ciabatta bread, crispy around the edges yet moist on the inside, arrive cooked in egg batter and drizzled with sweet caramel sauce, candied walnuts and powdered sugar. Richly decadent, the meal pairs well with one of the restaurant’s signature juice blends.

Those in search of a more savory breakfast option should sample the Eggs Laguna, a towering masterpiece of a dish composed of two poached eggs sandwiched between pieces of toasted country bread and accented by creamy avocado.

And no need to worry if you’re not a morning person—this is one restaurant that does lunch just as well as it does breakfast. The Thai chicken skewer plate includes three skewers of delightfully seasoned chicken atop a bed of greens, wonton croutons and Thai dressing. Meanwhile, those in the market for an untraditional salad will be pleasantly surprised by the “salade du soleil,” an arugula-based mixture that features slices of tender prosciutto, candied walnuts and grapefruit. A citrus vinaigrette dressing adds acidic flair to the dish—in fact, this is the furthest thing from the Caesars and Cobbs of yesteryear.

Options abound at Anastasia’s—sandwiches, pizzas and pastas also are served alongside clothing, jewelry and accessories by designers like Rick Owens, Kenzo and Issey Miyake, creating a truly inspiring experience for all visitors, whether they come for the food or the fashion. LBM

 

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