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Laguna Beach is Southern California's premier seaside destination, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. A year-round retreat for art lovers, nature enthusiasts and beach goers, Laguna Beach features seven miles of soft sand and surf.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rock'n Fish, Laguna Beach

Perched above Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and overlooking Main Beach, Rock’n Fish  is nestled in the heart of downtown Laguna. Owners Jim Donegan and Michael Zislis opened this newest Laguna eatery in late December 2010. When first married, Jim and his wife lived just off the 133 highway near Laguna Canyon Road. Their weekends were filled with visiting Laguna Beach galleries, shops and beaches. In fact, Main Beach was the first beach that their children visited. So it was only fitting for them to have one of their restaurants located here.

Last week, I attended  First Thursday’s Art Walk and beforehand, one of my good college friends and I headed to Rock’n Fish for drinks and dinner. We were seated near the windows overlooking the gorgeous sunset of Main Beach. This particular night looked like a painting…deep reds brushed with bright orange, over calm, dark waters. To start off the night, we ordered two of Rock’n Fish’s signature drinks, The Navy Grog (Bacardi rum, fresh tropical juices, topped with a layer of sweet Hawaiian dark rum) and the Chambord Raspberry Swizzle (Chambord Raspberry Vodka, soda water and a Chambord liqueur sinker). We enjoyed these drinks while taking in the last moments of the sunset.

Next, it was time to decide on appetizers. Choices included beer-battered popcorn shrimp,  Sesame seared ahi tuna and crispy calamari. How to decide? Our server helped make up our decision when he told us about the signature oak grilled fresh artichoke that was cooked over an open flame. We decided to pair it with the popcorn shrimp.

For both of us, this artichoke was the most fantastic appetizer we had ever feasted on. The smoky oak taste saturated through to the heart, and the leaves were slightly charred, with a precision that didn’t dry out any part of the vegetable.

The hearty helping of popcorn shrimp was paired with a spicy remoulade sauce and cocktail sauce. It was fresh and savory.

After learning that most of the fish and meat is also cooked over the open flames of red oak, we could hardly bring ourselves to make a choice on an entree. We felt we couldn’t go wrong no matter which one we went with.  So…

Blackened Wild Alaskan Halibut
Blackened Wild Alaskan Halibut Seasoned with Cajun spice and served with avocado aioli. Sides: Spicy Mac’n cheese and fresh, seasonal vegetables grilled over the open flames.

My girlfriend explained her halibut as, “supremely moist and evenly cooked. Perfect balance of spices.” Her halibut was gone before I could even sneak a taste, so I will have to trust her on this one. The mac-n-cheese was creamy with a kick of cayenne pepper, but subtle enough to not overwhelm.

Signature Kapalua Rib-eye

Hand cut rib-eye marinated for 72 hours in a pineapple-soy marinade, served with Hibachi teriyaki sauce. Sides: Garlic mashed potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables grilled over the red oak flames.

After marinating for 72 hours, the marbling in the rib-eye steak thoroughly soaked up every flavor of the pineapple soy sauce. Each bite was a burst of flavor. Layered amongst the sweet pineapple and soy were the hints of the smoky oak flames it was cooked over. I have to say, the rib-eye paired with the garlic mashed potatoes and fresh grilled vegetables  was a choice I was going home happy about!

We finished our meal off with the house dessert special, something you will not find anywhere else; Sticky Toffee pudding. It’s another Rock’n Fish house special.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Warm, moist toffee-cake topped with a decadent sticky toffee sauce. This one we had á la mode.

By the end of our meal the sun was long gone and the beauty of the moon shone out over the Pacific. Below, PCH started to fill with patrons for the First Thursday’s Art Walk .  Inside, my friend and I smiled with the satisfaction and contentment that only a good meal can bring. 

By Anne-Marie S.

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