Taste of the Town

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A restaurant resource for dining out in Laguna Beach


Sapphire Laguna’s Italian Harvest Dinner 

With popular shows such as “Chopped” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” regularly highlighting culinary animosity, it’s nice to see two top chefs collaborating in the kitchen instead of throwing elbowswhich was the case at Sapphire Laguna’s annual Italian Harvest Dinner on Oct. 17. That evening, local foodies gathered at the renowned establishment for an exclusive one-night-only, five-course Italian dinner prepared by award-winning guest chef Fabrizio Schenardi alongside Sapphire Laguna Executive Chef Azmin Ghahreman. Upon arrival, guests sipped on their choice of an Italian cocktail, such as a negroni or limoncello martini. Later, they had the option to share the “bagna cauda” (a garlic and anchovy fondue) or “mortadella d’anatra e pistachio” (homemade duck sausage); bites of “ravioli di vitello e ricotta” (ricotta and veal ravioli); or “stinco di chinghiale al lardo e grappa al ginepro, e polenta alla griglia” (slowly roasted wild boar shank with polenta). Additionally, Sapphire’s wine buyer, Michael Magsaysay, was on hand during the course of the evening to assist with wine pairings for each course. As a finale, the chefs offered a selection of Italian desserts. (sapphirellc.com) —A.T.

LB42-Sunset from Mozambique's new veranda

More to Love at Mozambique

Mozambique, known for its authentic East African fare, is now offering up its menu to diners in a beautiful new venue. The restaurant’s newly opened rooftop veranda is already a favorite dining destination of Laguna’s residents due to the stunning ocean view it provides. Open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily, the terrace is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail and a sunset in south Laguna, and will serve as a fantastic setting for the many charity fundraisers that Mozambique is known for hosting throughout the year. Also a perfect spot for happy hour, which is served Monday through Friday from 2-4 p.m., the veranda boasts a stunning backdrop of the Pacific Ocean that simply can’t be beat. (mozambiqueoc.com) —B.B.

LB42-Cinepolis Red Quino Salad

Green Screen

Foodies and movie lovers alike have flocked to Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas in Laguna Niguel for the cushy leather recliners, cocktails and yummy grub. Now an even more diverse crowd will be drawn in, thanks to a new menu that features an onslaught of artisanal dishes and even vegetarian and vegan options. Moviegoers can chow down on upscale fare such as a red quinoa salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette, sweet potato fries with a honey mustard sauce or a garden truffle flatbread with summer squash and truffle oil. For those who prefer a more traditional snacking experience at the cinema, a full selection of candy, hotdogs and gourmet popcorn (available in a variety of flavors) is available. Likewise, the thirst-quenching options are just as diverse. Beer, wine and cocktails are popular choices for patrons, while those who prefer to go alcohol-free can sample milkshakes, coconut water, sodas and specialty coffee drinks. (cinepolisusa.com) —B.B.

Restaurant Revamps

Locals may want to keep an eye on the space formerly occupied by Royal Hawaiian. It’s expected the spot will soon be taken over by South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen + Bar, a sister restaurant of Nick’s Laguna Beach. Brian Harrington, managing partner of NickCo Hospitality Group, has confirmed the company’s plan to open a Laguna Beach location of the restaurant next summer. If the success of Nick’s Laguna Beach and the company’s two San Clemente outposts is any indication, the new south of the border grub will surely be a hit.

Meanwhile, House of Big Fish and Ice Cold Beer has recently made some changes to its menu, adding weekend breakfast items and updating its happy hour. Along with the new breakfast menu comes what owner Chris Keller calls “one of the best bloody mary’s you’ll ever have.” Garnished with blackened shrimp and skewered vegetables, it’s a delicious take on a classic cocktail. Also, stop in after work for a reimagined happy hour. In addition to its traditional happy hour menu, House of Big Fish will offer on weekdays from 4:30-5:30 p.m. half off any food item with the purchase of a cocktail, beer or wine from the dinner menu. (houseofbigfish.com) —B.B.

LBM_42_Dine Sides_Sundried Tomato_By Jody Tiongco-3

A New Plan for Sundried Tomato 

It’s a bittersweet day for local fans of Sundried Tomato American Bistro & Catering. The south Orange County-based company, which also boasts locations in San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano, has announced its intention to place an increased focus on its catering business and two southern outposts. This, unfortunately, means shuttering the Laguna Beach location on Forest Avenue to free up some much-needed manpower. While it will be sad to see the local favorite leave, the changes will no doubt enhance the bistro’s already top-notch catering service. With more than 20 years of experience, and the capability to host anything from a casual dinner party to an extravagant fundraising event or gala, Sundried Tomato will surely remain a culinary staple here in Laguna. (sundriedtomatocafe.com) —B.B.

SST_Entry Hall

Slap Shots and Steak

Selanne Steak Tavern Opens

Anaheim Ducks fans can now take their love of hockey to the dinner table. Teemu Selanne, right wing for the Orange County-based NHL team, opened his much-anticipated restaurant, Selanne Steak Tavern, in Laguna Beach on Nov. 8. The eatery occupies the space formerly held by French 75 and features a menu and ambience that guests ranging from avid sports fans to families to foodies can enjoy. The restaurant’s offerings include classic steak dishes, craft beers and multiple televisions—for watching the Ducks play, of course. The charming 1930s cottage-turned-restaurant boasts three dining areas: a downstairs tavern, outdoor patio and upstairs steakhouse. Selanne Steak Tavern will be open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday and even serve up happy hour offerings on select evenings. Bring the whole family to experience this friendly neighborhood steakhouse. (949-715-9881; selannesteaktavern.com) —B.B.

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