With an intimate ambience, enoSTEAK brings a modern, fresh approach to the typical steakhouse.
By Alli Tong | Photos by Jody Tiongco
Housed in The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, enoSTEAK—one of the hotel’s three dining options—enjoys a pedigree of being a part of five-star elegance. And while it’s located inside the creme de le creme of resorts, the boutique restaurant certainly stands out on its own among other eateries dotted along coastal Orange County.
The approximately 40-seat space creates a chic, cozy atmosphere—a setting that’s atypical when you think of a traditional steakhouse, which usually conjures images of a grand dining room, white linens and quilted leather banquette seating. EnoSTEAK, on the other hand, welcomes guests with a contemporary floor-to-ceiling glass tower in the center of the room housing many of its 1,500-plus wine bottles. (Interesting fact: Some of the empty wine bottles at the restaurant are recycled and made into serving platters.) To add to the modern vibe, Laguna Beach artist Sandra Jones Campbell’s voyeuristic artwork depicting social and political scenes adorns the walls.
The curated menu is as elevated as the decor. Here, Executive Chef Pedro Contreras offers a new approach to steakhouse fare by honing in on seasonal produce and locally sourced ingredients—meat included. The chef takes pride in ensuring quality and even hunts for produce himself at farmers markets in California.
“Seasonality means taste to me—why go against nature?” Pedro asks. “Sustainability means being responsible for the future of our next generations.”
This season, guests at enoSTEAK can savor the asparagus Ibérico salad made with a poached egg, Ibérico ham and caviar creme fraiche. And, of course, there’s the beef—the grilled bone-in rib-eye is 18 ounces of all-natural, vintage meat, which is served with the restaurant’s house-made, signature compound butters such as black truffle or parsley and roasted garlic. Seafood lovers also should try the pan-seared, 9-ounce sea bass—a sustainable option from the North Pacific. The restaurant offers several enhancements to accompany your entree, including Brussels sprouts with butternut squash hash and smoked bacon; wagyu fat steak fries; and organic mushrooms in a sherry cream.
But if Pedro had to choose one dish he’s excited about, it’s the crab and avocado salad. “[It] is inspired on classic flavors but presented in a refined way,” he says. “You will be thinking about this dish for a long time after you try it.”
So whether you come for the steak and stay for the wine, ambience or good company, a trip to enoSTEAK shouldn’t be reserved for just hotel guests.
Tip: Every meal at enoSTEAK starts with complimentary chicken liver pate, which is intended to encourage guests to open their palates.