After more than 23 years, a Laguna culinary institution has closed its doors. Sorrento Grille is no more.
But fear not, hungry diners, the dynamic duo of executive Chef Ryan Adams and Chef de Cuisine Mitch Gillan will fire up the ovens again any day now with a brand new concept called Three Seventy Common Kitchen+ Drink.
Adams, who has worked at Sorrento for the past two years, was offered the opportunity to buy the place and took it. He then asked his sous-chef Gillan to stay on as chef de cuisine in his new venture.
Adams is a graduate of culinary school in San Francisco and worked in several restaurants there, then in Maui, Chicago and New York.
He finally returned to Orange County, where he grew up, to open the Citrus City Grill in Old Towne Orange. Next was a stint as opening chef and sous-chef at French 75 and then 10 years as the corporate chef for Culinary Adventures before he ended up at Sorrento Grille, 370 Glenneyre St.
Gillan is a self-made chef. He began his career chopping vegetables at Splashes in the Surf & Sand Resort, then worked his way up at various kitchens in Orange County, including French 75 in Costa Mesa.
Finally, he became head chef at "75" in Laguna before recently joining the Sorrento staff. Adams and Gillan are old friends who have worked together off and on for more than 10 years.
Adams' dedication to "farm to fork" dining will be fully realized with a globally influenced menu, using locally sourced, sustainable products. He himself is an avid gardener inspired by childhood memories of his grandmother's huge garden with its summer corn, watermelon and 120-year-old lemon tree.
They envision creating a sense of community in this newly redecorated, more casual neighborhood spot, a place for a first date, or a burger and a beer after work, with a somewhat lower price point. They want to create a setting for folks to sit down and enjoy a meal with family and friends, knowing that often, people don't have time to cook anymore.
Some special features will include a Sunday Night Social, a reasonably priced meal with supper classics like roast chicken, pot roast or meatloaf served on platters family style. Wino-Wednesday will feature a $30 pre-fixe meal with three courses and three wines.
The eatery will be closed on Mondays, except for one night a month when they will try out new culinary creations with a set menu, drinks included. Guest chefs will occasionally appear. This will be a fun night, open to people on their email and VIP lists. You can sign up at 370 common.com.
Gillan described the regular menu as "edgy comfort food" with small plates like oysters Rockefeller and large plates of classic retro food such as butcher steak with bone marrow and Bordelaise, as well as chef-driven, globally inspired, locally sourced inventive dishes from all over the world including poutine. Homey desserts will include Grandma B's chocolate broiler cake.
There will be a TV in the bar and another upstairs in the private dining room for Super Bowl parties, meetings etc. The entire upper floor can be curtained off for parties.
The bar itself will emphasize "old school" cocktails and "only the real deal" martinis, said Gillan.
The bar will also have a few specialty cocktails. An interesting feature in the plans is a chalkboard, called the Buy Your Friend a Drink Board. You may discover your name up on that board courtesy of a friend who has bought you a drink. It can even be phoned in. That would be a welcome surprise!
We are excitedly awaiting the opening of Three Seventy Common. With such talented people at the helm, it is sure to be a great new place to eat.
ELLE HARROW and TERRY MARKOWITZ were in the gourmet foods and catering business for 20 years. They can be reached for comments or questions at email@example.com.