Marine Institute to Benefit From a Dana Point Renaissance

Anne Michaud is a staff writer for The Times Orange County Edition

The Renaissance at the Dana Point Cafe will hold its grand opening party Friday, featuring an appearance by the Bruce Baldwin Band, a jazz group.

The restaurant, formerly Alexander's, is under new ownership by Renaissance Associates, which runs Renaissance Cafes in Laguna Beach and Brea and Renaissance Coffee in Tustin.

The interior has been entirely renovated, said Dwight Anderson, president of Renaissance Associates. It includes contemporary style furniture and a handcrafted granite and mahogany wine bar. Entertainment is on the bill nightly, with an emphasis on blues and jazz.

Known for years as the Old Dana Point Cafe, the restaurant was renamed Alexander's by Pamela and Alexander McGeary, who owned it for 14 years. The couple sold the restaurant, which is one of the oldest buildings in Dana Point, to concentrate on their vineyard in San Diego County.

The opening party is from 6 to 9 p.m. and includes appetizers, beer and wine. A $25 fee at the door will benefit the Orange County Marine Institute, which is hoping to buy research equipment for its new vessel, "R/V Sea Explorer."

24701 Del Prado Ave. (714) 661-6003.

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Morton's of Chicago, the upscale steakhouse chain, will open its first Orange County location in late fall. The West Hollywood site has been called the best stargazing restaurant in Los Angeles, after Spago.

Morton's plans to open in South Coast Plaza Village in Santa Ana in the spaces formerly occupied by the Costa Mesa Art League Gallery and Verdugo's Mexican restaurant.

The Morton's chain, founded in 1978, has 26 other locations throughout the country.

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A wine dinner, featuring the wines of Napa Valley's Freemark Abbey, will be held Friday at JW's in the Anaheim Marriott. A five-course dinner, designed by chef John McLaughlin, will complement the wines.

Dinner starts any time between 6 and 10 p.m., and reservations are required. The price of $55 includes tax and tip.

Among the courses are a soft-shell crab with lemon sauce and a 1991 Napa Chardonnay; ahi in a scallion crust and a 1990 Carpy Ranch Chardonnay; and ribeye steak with Abbey's 1987 Sycamore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.

700 W. Convention Way. (714) 750-0900.

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