Fifteen months is a long time. Enough to grow a backyard garden, and master a sourdough recipe. Enough time for an entire pregnancy and six months of infancy on top of it. Enough time to master a couple recipes, and then get really sick of making the same couple things over and over again. Enough to get really excited for restaurants to open up again, and get a table at your favorite dining destination that is finally back to business.
South Orange County is brimming with energy. Weeks past the summer solstice, the days are long, warm, and bright: perfect for grabbing an early morning coffee down by the beach, a quick fish taco for lunch, or an evening out to indulge in exceptional culinary creations and craft cocktails with friends you haven’t seen in months.
That was the theme of a recent evening out when my husband and I joined another couple for dinner at Hendrix - a popular neighborhood restaurant in Laguna Niguel’s Ocean Ranch that offers a menu of New American cuisine, assimilating the flavors from the melting pot of traditional American cooking techniques. Already fans of Executive Chef Ranier Schwarz’ offerings, our foodie friends were anxious to sample his newest seasonal dishes showcasing summer’s most vibrant ingredients - much of which is sourced from local and regional farms.
We did our best to work out way through the menu and each dish more than delivered on its promise of ocean-to-table freshness and flavor. My personal favorite? The melt-in-your-mouth pan-seared Diver Scallops with bold Moraccan salsa. I also discovered a truly inventive starter in the creamy Avocado hummus, for which the accompanying fried pita chips were merely a delivery device - I would happily eat this by the spoonful.
The BBQ Octopus tacos enhanced with pineapple salsa, pickled fresno chiles and lemon creme fraiche and the Duck Confit Salad with beautiful green and yellow wax beans were a table fave.
Among the menu’s more protein-forward options include the Braised Kurobuta Pork Short Ribs and the Prime Rib Dinner for Two. Perfect for those who can’t decide, the Roti Platter arrives with mouth-watering rotisserie chicken, leg of lamb and prime rib served with Weiser Farms “drip” potatoes and au jus.
Not that we had any business ordering dessert after such copious consumption, but the Sticky Toffee Cake with vanilla whip cream and the Valrhona chocolate mousse tart with salted caramel sauce and fresh raspberries were both worth writing home about.
32431 Golden Lantern
Located at the corner of
Del Avion and Golden Lantern
in the Ocean Ranch Village