RVOC January 2017 : Page 104

OWL EYES During a tour and tasting ($30) at Blinking Owl Distillery, guests can try cocktails like the Pink Moon, crafted with vodka or aquavit, lemon, falernum and Angostura bitters. THE DRIF TER When popular Laguna chef Rainer Schwarz decided to open a third restaurant, he and partners John Nye and Colby Durnin searched the coast from L.A. to San Diego. en they stumbled onto the perfect location, almost in his backyard, on Golden Lantern in Laguna Niguel. “I could walk; it’s so close,” he says. A plus: Many of his new customers will be his own neighbors, “so I know what they’ll want to eat.” at means the menu will be more varied at the new Hendrix—which will open in February—than at their other two seafood-focused locations in Laguna Beach: Driftwood Kitchen and e Deck. Diners will walk in seeing a rotisserie in action: steak or chicken or lamb. Seafood will still be o ered, but so will American staples and cultural specialties. “You’ll see a lot of things like... whole-roasted foods,” he says. ere’s a wine store and a beer tap with rotating labels each month. Hendrix won’t be on the water like the other spots (it’s located in Ocean Ranch Village). But it will have a view of the sea. “My customers have to have that,” he says. Why the name Hendrix? It’s not for Jimmy Hendrix. Schwarz says they wanted a name that shows strength. (It’s also a play on Hendrick’s Gin.) It will be the largest of their three eateries—seating for 182, while the others hold less than 100 each. But Schwarz isn’t worried: Laguna Niguel has only one other major restaurant. Schwarz knows the city’s eager for a new option. While operating three restaurants may seem daunting, Schwarz is keeping his cool. e rst few months he will concentrate on Hendrix and let the partners keep the others going. His specialty is the kitchen; the partners operate out front. A native of Austria, Schwarz worked all over Europe until he met a mentor who brought him to the United States. Stops in Cali and Colorado boosted his reputation. But a job as executive chef at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood led him to Nye and Durnin. And the future is bright for the trio. “We’re humble; we have to work hard,” says Schwarz. “But we don’t have dollar signs in front of us. Maybe there will be other restaurants, but we want to make Hendrix something my neighbors will love.” driftwoodkitchen.com; deckonlaguna.com We felt the spirit of the sip last year, thanks to Blinking Owl Distillery (blinkingowldistillery.com). Run by drink duo Robin (who moonlighted as the designer) and Brian Christenson, and partner Kirsten Vangsness (of Criminal Minds ), it’s the first craft distillery in O.C. and will add a Norwegian-style aged aquavit ($50) to its list of vodka, orange vodka, aquavit, gin and more come spring. Then there’s award-winning newbie Ironwood Cellar.Craft.Cook (ironwoodlagunahills.com), where mixologist Gabe Whorley has his I’ll Card-a-Mom ($12). It’ll freshen your taste buds—particularly when paired with Executive Chef Jared Cook’s duck breast with seared foie gras ($31). A toast! A YEAR OF CHEER e former marmalade factory now known as the MAKE (anaheimpackingdistrict.com) will serve up its grand debut in 2017—this after opening Jav’s Barbecue and Pali Wine Co. early this year, and Unsung Brewery last summer. It’s the work of Shaheen Sadeghi, who says the hang will toast local tastemakers. Speaking of, chef-owners Florent and Amelia Marneau will make good on their plan (announced in the fall) to move Marché Moderne (marchemoderne.net) to Crystal Cove Shopping Center this spring (after a decade at SCP). But Francophiles can still savor the classics—by the shore. READERS’ CHOICE FAVORITE RESTAUR ANTS & CHEFS Want to know where the region’s gastronomes go to dine? Here’s a taste from the top toques at the finest eateries around. AVEO Table + Bar Unveiled as part of Monarch Beach Resort’s revamp, the eatery has become a fave, thanks to Executive Chef Collin ornton’s knack for crafting clean dishes with local seasonal bounty. monarch beachresort.com e Resort at Pelican Hill Marco Criscuolo rose to executive sous-chef for the resort after two years at Andrea’s helm, proving his air for Italian fare. Now, he’s working with all the restaurant head chefs on their Valentine’s menus. Amore ! pelicanhill.com IN THE ROUND The grilled octopus ($19) is on the seafood bar menu at AVEO. Haven Gastropub It’s no wonder why the pub and its warm, welcoming Executive Chef Greg Daniels are on the list. Since opening in 2009, the haunt has churned out avor-packed comfort food (love those deviled eggs). Just like home. havengastropub.com 10 4 MODERN LUXURY ORANGE COUNTY JAN/FEB 2017 | M O D E R N L U X U R Y. C O M BLINKING OWL DISTILLERY PHOTO BY K.GENNARO PHOTOGRAPHY; MARCHÉ MODERNE PHOTO BY MICHELLE LARSON/THE LARSON GROUP; AVEO TABLE + BAR PHOTO BY JOHN DOLE FRENCH TWIST Amelia’s chopped salad ($14) at Marché Moderne’s new Crystal Cove restaurant JAMMIN’

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