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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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink

Over the last year Laguna Beach has had several new restaurants open, one of which is Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink. This farm-to-table eatery is the vision of Ryan Adams, former executive chef at local legendary restaurant, Sorrento Grille. When Adams was offered the chance to purchase the restaurant from the owners, he jumped at the opportunity and Three Seventy Common was born.

From the moment I began reading and hearing the buzz surrounding Three Seventy Common, I had to try it. Finally, this past week I had my chance to experience what everyone has been talking about. Crossing over Mermaid Street and up to the doors of the restaurant, it was hard to tell what was going on inside. When we passed the threshold I immediately saw and felt the “common” and friendly atmosphere that I had been hearing about. Adams has clearly focused his attention on creating a space with an urban feel using repurposed wood and metal for the d├ęcor. The dining room, the bar and the kitchen bar were filled with people… chatting, eating, drinking…literally meeting around the dinner table to catch up on life. And that’s exactly what I found myself doing with a dear friend of mine. We eagerly looked at the drink offerings. Both of us were impressed with the extensive drink menu of wines by the glass (about 30) and the inventive house cocktails. I choose the elusive “Sexy Dennis” and she the “East Side.” I call “Sexy Dennis” elusive because the description is this: “a nightly cocktail lovingly crafted for Mr. Dennis Finger.” I was intrigued and asked what the drink consisted of, “homemade lavender lemonade (lavender and lemons from Chef Adams Mom’s garden) and Buffalo Trace Bourbon (the oldest distillery in America).” I was sold! The Sexy Dennis was refreshing with a tart bite balanced by the sweetness from the bourbon. The Eastside was the perfect ‘hot day’ drink with muddled cucumber and basil that also had a refreshing taste with a citrus kick.

The Sexy Dennis

The East Side: Ion vodka or Blue Coat gin, basil, cucumber and citrus.

After a few sips of our drinks it was time to peruse the menu. We liked the simplicity of how it was separated into categories of “Small,” “Medium,” “Large” and “Sides” and it read like a dream filled with the kind of food you could eat for eternity. To be honest we had a really difficult time deciding on what to order because the descriptions of the plates were making us salivate. With advice from our waitress we settled on the asparagus from the “Small” section and the baked mac n’ cheese from “Sides” section for our appetizers. Generous amounts of charred asparagus topped with a fried egg and prosciutto made for a smoky salt explosion. The baked mac n’ cheese was hands down the BEST mac n’ cheese I have ever had in my life!!! Made with smoked cheddar and baked in an iron skillet, this dish had a crispy lid and a delicious, creamy inside. If these two dishes were an indicator of what our entrees would be, all I can say is HOLY PHENOMENAL! My taste buds were already singing the praises of Chef Adams.

Asparagus: Fried egg, asiago, prosciutto and bread crumbs.

Baked Mac n’ Cheese

We finally settled on the Shepherd’s Pie and Salmon for our main dishes. A healthy salmon steak was set before me topped with shaved leeks, radishes, sliced onion and parsley, which was paired with lentils mixed with chorizo. It was an interesting and mild combination of flavors. I’m not usually a fan of radishes or parsley and yet I was enjoying how they brought that crisp element to the dish. Three Seventy Common put its own twist on the traditional Shepherd’s Pie with the potatoes in the middle surrounded by the veal, veggies and gravy. One of my friend’s favorite dishes of all time is Shepherd’s Pie and as she was eating this one she would not stop raving about it and kept begging me to taste it. She built me a “trifecta” bite of veal, carrots and mash. It was a bite that I thought only existed in my dreams…the flavors saturated down into every piece of food and made me want to lick the fork clean.

Salmon with lentils, chorizo, leeks, sherry vinegar, parsley and red onion.

Shepherd’s Pie with veal, carrots, peas, pearl onion, gravy and cheesy mash.

Even with our bellies full and satisfied we couldn’t pass on the opportunity for a dessert created byChef Adams. We chose “The Presley,” a cinnamon toast, banana, peanut butter ice cream delight. Again our mouths were in heaven with the caramelized bananas, peanut butter ice cream and cinnamon toast combined making this  a sweet treat. We sipped on the house Manhattan that is made with bourbon that is aged in oak barrels in the Whisky Room (a private room in the restaurant with seating up to 8) at the restaurant.

The Presley: cinnamon toast, banana, peanut butter ice cream and honey.

I am so happy that Three Seventy Common lived up and surpassed my expectations. It is quickly becoming a hot spot for locals and visitors and I can clearly see why.  I can’t wait to go back and try more of these flavor explosions, especially the Burger, which is Chef Adams personal favorite.

370 Glenneyre
Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday, 5pm to close

Try these special Food and Wine Gatherings

Sunday Night Social: A rotating list of old-fashioned supper classics includes roast chicken, pot roast and meatloaf. $25 per person (half-price for kids 12 and under)

Tuesday Brown Bag Nights: Order dinner and enjoy a bottle of red or white wine for $15 a bottle. (served in a brown bag you don’t know which wine you might get)

Wino Wednesdays: Featuring a three-course dinner menu with a wine pairing for just $30 (in addition to the a la carte menu).

Buy your Friend a Drink: Guests can buy a friend a drink in advance. Friends’ names are then posted on a board at the bar, and they will have a pre-paid drink waiting for them on their next visit.

By Anne-Marie S.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sunset Serenades

There are countless things to love about Laguna Beach, but I think the sunsets are my absolute favorite. Even though I’ve lived in Southern California for the past 15 years, an Orange County sunset still takes my breath away. Feeling the air turn cool and watching the last rays of sunlight melt into the ocean, brings a serene and comforting closure to each day. Last week I took my family to Laguna to enjoy one of these world-renown sunsets and we decided to attend the City of Laguna Beach’s Sunset Serenades.
Before the concert we made a stop to Gina’s Pizza in North Laguna for a quick, family-friendly bite to eat. We then stopped in at Casey’s Cupcakes  to grab some of her delicious cupcakes to enjoy at the park. When we arrived, the Heisler Park amphitheater was already quickly filling up with eager concert-goers. I hadn’t attended an event at the amphitheater before and I was glad to find that there was ample room for everyone to sit or lay on their blankets comfortably. Some folks brought their food and wine with them to the concert and were settling in for a sunset dinner during the show.  We took up a spot in the back where we could let the kids run around, and in fact, they ended up dancing…in between bites of cupcakes. The environment at the amphitheater was jovial fueled; I’m sure by the beauty that surrounded us and the music that filled our ears. Sunset Serenades was a demonstration of the Laguna Beach “small town” charm working its magic.  And that fabulous sunset at the end of the long week didn’t disappoint either…it took my breath away!

The Sunset Serenades are hosted by the City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission and happen every Friday at 6:30pm at the Heisler Park amphitheater throughout the month of May.
Sunset Serenades Schedule:
May 4 - Shelby, Tieg &Tara (Modern Vocal Harmonies)
May 11- Erica Powell (Harpist)
May 18 - Mancini/Stone Trio (Vibraphone Jazz)
May 25 - John Troy and Jason Feddy (Singer Songwriter)

By Anne-Marie S

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sustainable Key Card introduced for Inn at Laguna Beach as part of Renovation

Renovated guest room

The Inn at Laguna Beach, undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation, is the first hotel in the city to implement 100 percent renewable wood key cards, completely eliminating plastic key cards. The Nordic birch wood, used for the key cards, is harvested from certified sustainably managed forests in Europe which reduces the carbon footprint by lowering CO2 emissions. These PVC-free biodegradable wood key cards also help reduce oil-based plastic waste.

Sustainable Key Card

"We are the first and currently the only hotel in Laguna that has purchased this key," said Inn at Laguna Beach General Manager Peggy Trott. "With our hotel overlooking the Pacific coastline and direct access to the beach, we want to do everything we can to offer guests a memorable and environmentally conscious experience."

View from guest room

Sustainability plays a large role in the hotel's renovation, which includes all 70 guest rooms, the lobby, Pacific Room, Pacific Terrace, and the pool and pool deck. The renovation began February 29, 2012; the first two phases will be completed the week of April 22, with the third phase scheduled to be finished the first week of June.
  • Guest rooms: The beach chic theme, both functional and reflective of an ocean front hotel, utilizes soothing warm colors, a mixture of bamboo and rattan furniture, and new carpet exuding a residential feel. Low VOC paint was used on the walls. Dual flush toilets and low flow, top-of-the-line, Speakman shower heads were installed in the bathrooms, along with new glass shower doors and 30% recycled material tiles throughout. There is also an in-room recycling program. A reusable aluminum water bottle is offered for guest purchase with an in-room refillable water station.
  • Lobby: New furniture and fixtures.
  • Pacific Room: This meeting space which accommodates up to 50 guests, has new furniture and carpet.
  • Pacific Terrace on the 4th floor: New furniture and a fire pit.
  • Pool Area and Deck: New red brick and a re-plastering of the pool with new pool tiles. (to be completed in phase 3)
"The sustainability aspect of the key card as well as the renovation aligns with our overall vision. It is a perfect match with the Inn at Laguna's participation in the international 'Clean the World' project," Trott said.

About Clean the World
Clean the World recycles hotel guest room hygiene items at its Recycling Operations Center and distributes them for humanitarian purposes with partnering nonprofit organizations. The items are distributed domestically and to children and families in communities around the globe. Laguna Beach became the first City nationwide in 2011 to adopt the program for all of its hotel properties.