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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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Date Night in Laguna Beach

There’s always fantastic food and entertainment to be found in Laguna Beach! After a long week, my husband and I headed out for a date night in Laguna. We drove down the canyon right at twilight and watched the last glow of the sun drip back behind the hills. The drive into Laguna Beach never gets old for this Southern California girl. Tonight we decided to see the award-winning show ‘Chapter Two,’ at Laguna Playhouse but beforehand, we headed to the Lumberyard  for dinner and drinks.  The Lumberyard opened its doors in 2008, after a complete remodel. It is named after the original company occupying the site, The Laguna Lumber Company, which was the longest running company in Laguna Beach, and in business from 1910 to 1985. Owner, Cary Redfearn wanted to stay true to the original integrity of the 1912 building so he left the office of Joe Jahraus, owner of The Laguna Lumber Company, intact as part of the restaurant. Inside no detail has been left to chance with custom booths, a horseshoe-shaped bar, artisan woodwork throughout, and a beautiful 12,000-piece mesquite wood floor entrance. The only thing that upstages the elegant décor is the food.

We began our date, as is our tradition, with drinks and a toast. I chose the Ri Mist and the Mister went with the Margarita. We toasted to a quiet night out, free from the worries of kids and work. Next we enjoyed the zucchini planks, a Lumberyard signature dish. The zucchini is presented like a Lincoln log tower and topped with parmesan. Each plank is thinly sliced and covered in panko crumbs and fried. These planks are absolutely perfect with a crispy outer layer and a hot tender inside with an aioli sauce for dipping. We had to stop ourselves from over eating this tasty appetizer so we could leave room for the main course.

Before opening Lumberyard, Cary owned the beloved Oysters in Corona Del Mar, famous for their fresh fish. The executive chef from Oysters, Armando Ortega, went with Cary to the Lumberyard, as well as  some of his famous dishes. With this knowledge how could we pass up an opportunity to try them? So I chose the pan seared Pacific Sea Bass and the Mister, the cedar-planked mahogany King Salmon.

The Sea Bass is served over whipped truffled potatoes with edamame and corn ragout,  wild mushrooms, tomatoes and a beurre blanc. The Sea Bass is a staff favorite and I can taste why! This was a deeply flavorful dish made with the simplest of ingredients and the perfect blend of texture and seasoning that brought out rich, bold flavors. The vegetables are a twist on the American favorite succotash, but replacing the lima beans for edamame and making a combination that was absolutely delicious.

The cedar King Salmon was recommended by Cary himself after he heard how much my husband loves salmon. It is covered in a soy-mustard glaze and served with applewood smoked bacon and Yukon gold potatoes. The cedar flavored penetrated the salmon without drying out the fish. It was sweet without being overwhelming.
After dinner we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for dessert. In fact, Lumberyard is running a special right now if you are going to see a play at The Laguna Playhouse. When you purchase two entrees, you receive a FREE dessert! We did not hesitate to jump on that special. Normally we lean towards a chocolate dessert, but tonight we went with the Cherry Ciabatta Bread Pudding and we were very happy we did. Topped with vanilla ice cream this was heaven in a dish and I had to fight the Mister for every bite.
With our bellies satisfied we stepped outside into the crisp air and took the short walk down to the Playhouse to see ‘Chapter Two,’ Neil Simon’s most autobiographical play. It is the story of a divorcee and a recently widowed novelist finding their second chance at love and happiness. It’s a smart, dialogue-heavy play that keeps you on your toes as you watch the story unfold. Each character is dealing with their own personal loneliness that at times is painful to see, but Simon peppers the dialog with witty quips making you laugh your way to hoping that these lonely lovers succeed.

As the Mister and I walked out of the Playhouse hand-in-hand, we smiled, feeling refueled by a fun date night in Laguna.

384 Forest Avenue
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606 Laguna Canyon Road
Chapter Two playing now thru February 3rd
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By Anne-Marie S.

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