Location: St. Regis Resort Monarch Beach, 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, (949) 234-3318; www.michaelmina.net.
Ambience: Solid urban bistro with an upbeat soundtrack, sleek contemporary design and a smart, well-executed modern American menu. A total revamp of the resort's restaurant, Stonehill Tavern is right on the mark.
Service: Crisp and professional but not at all jaded.
Price: Appetizers, $14 to $38; main courses, $29 to $36 (salt-baked Maine lobster is market price, lately $75); desserts, $11.
Best dishes: Lobster bisque with Meyer lemon, sea scallop crudo with roseheart radish, crispy duck thigh with green apple and mint, Tasmanian ocean trout with Muscat grape and caper relish, Mediterranean sea bass with artichokes and tortellini, salt-baked Maine lobster in fennel chowder, Berkshire pig, whole-fried Jidori chicken, butterscotch pudding.
Wine list: Fascinating and wide-ranging with close to 500 selections and priced fairly. Corkage, $25; two bottles per party maximum. Great cocktails too.
Best table: A booth in the bar or a table along the windows.
Details: Open for dinner only, Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. (The restaurant will be open 7 days a week for dinner from June 5 to Labor Day.) Full bar. Valet parking, complimentary.
Rating is based on food, service and ambience, with price taken into account in relation to quality. ****: Outstanding on every level. ***: Excellent. **: Very good. *: Good. No star: Poor to satisfactory.
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