This past year, I started rereading a collection of classics. As I began working through Jane Austen’s masterpieces, I decided it’d be a lovely and delicious (pun intended) endeavor to apply the same concept to a “collection” of dining experiences worth writing home about.
To be sure, there is no shortage of exceptional establishments in Orange County upon which to embark on such a sojourn. One such standout is Driftwood Kitchen in Laguna Beach – the premier waterfront, ocean-to-table dining experience of the freshest and finest seafood, steaks and hand-shucked oysters, alongside handcrafted cocktails and breathtaking panoramic views of the Pacific.
Executive Chef/Partner Rainer Schwarz’ incredibly diverse menu features specialties for every palate, which is perfect for my strictly meat-and-potatoes husband and the inner seafood-ie in me. Dishes are defined by creatively inspired California cuisine simply prepared with a focus on the freshest of ocean fare and flavorful seasonal ingredients. The trick here is in deciding between each of the mouthwatering starters, salads, small plates and entrees.
The pan-fried brussel sprouts enhanced with lemon, balsamic and cranberries are not-to-be missed and it’s equally obvious as to why the thinly sliced yellowtail hamachi with Santa Barbara uni and paired with apple citrus vinaigrette and blood orange is such a popular starter. The carmelized butternut gnocchi with sage brown butter and pork speck was literally melt-in-your mouth rich and delicious.
My new favorite meal is Driftwood’s pan seared diver scallops paired with fregola pasta, cauliflower, Moroccan salsa and marcona almonds while my husband was thrilled with his cooked-to-perfection Double R Ranch prime ribeye accompanied by a creamy parsnip puree, green beans, sweet garlic and pickled pearl onion.
It’s easy to call food honest, when it tastes like it comes right off your best friend’s table – but certainly hard to beat when exemplary service and value extend to each inspired detail of the dining experience. Even Jane would agree.