The Gossiping Gourmet: The food is the thing at Broadway

Broadway has come to Laguna Beach. No, it's not another musical comedy but a restaurant inspired by that venerable New York avenue.

In this case the "show" is the food. Amar Santana, who, as a very young man, cut his chops in the Big Apple at high-end places like Auriole, then came to California to be executive chef at Charlie Palmer's and has now taken the big step of opening his own restaurant.

As you enter Broadway (the former site of 5' Restaurant), you notice the walls lined with photographs and paintings of the Great White Way. A facelift has given the space a warm yet contemporary atmosphere. Barn wood walls and table tops, dark gray toned rafters and a terra cotta wall at the rear provides contrast to the long, textured, cement wall that spans one side of the room behind the banquette.

An open kitchen with gleaming stainless steel, bright white tile and hanging copper pots boasts a counter with tall comfortably upholstered armchair-style stools. Interesting contemporary light fixtures shed softened light. In contrast to the casual heavy wood tables are Queen Anne style chairs upholstered in rough fabric. The total effect makes an attractive space for dining (albeit a noisy one).

We were munching on the breadsticks when the bread basket arrived. Our wheat fest now included a cheese muffin, a squaw roll, a crusty little baguette and some very sweet butter.

It's important to mention that the menu changes frequently. On our first visit we had the cured Japanese hamachi with spaghetti squash, yuzu butternut squash sorbet and avocado mousse. All of the ingredients seemed to form a harmonious whole.

On our second visit, the thin pieces of hamachi were seared and accompanied by transparent slices of cucumber and radish, pebbles of mango and apple jalapeno sorbet. The hamachi itself was bland, even with the seasoned sear. The accouterments, though good by themselves, didn't work together or enhance the fish. The only thing that added interest and punch was the tobiko (flying fish roe) mayonnaise, of which there was merely a smear.

We had a similar experience with the pan-roasted sea scallops, although the description on the menu was the same each time, the flavors certainly were not. The scallops were equally good both times: moist, sweet, plump and perfectly seared; however, the sea urchin risotto varied greatly. The first time the delicate, slightly salty flavor of the urchin subtly accented the distinct grains of the creamy, chewy rice.

On the next, the risotto tasted like macaroni and cheese sauce and the rice was mushy. However, we did love the presentation that evening as the East Coast had just been deluged with a storm. The scallops were covered with a snowy white, spicy foam and tempura sea beans that stuck out like twigs in the snow, a very Japanese aesthetic.

We really enjoyed the fried Brussels sprouts with rounds of Chinese sausage in a sweet and sour sauce. These could convince you to eat your vegetables. They were browned and crunchy and picked up some of the bacon-like flavor of the sausage. The sweet sauce with a hint of tartness provided a nice contrast.

As flatbread pizzas go, this one was very ordinary. The crust was humdrum. While bacon and cheese were quite plentiful the caramelized onions were not and truffle oil was indiscernible.

The menu leans toward small plates, but there are five entrées including pork belly, stuffed quail and spiced short ribs.

Opting for a healthy dessert, we chose the fruit salad. The huge mound of macerated berries was just delicious and the accompanying citrusy sorbet made a lovely complement to the lightly sweetened fruit. There was also a thimbleful of ginger granita that you would have missed if you hadn't been looking for it.

Hazelnut praline tart was notable for a scrumptious slather of creamy banana caramel, but the fudge-y praline slice was just too sweet and dense.

Broadway is a buzzy addition to the Laguna dining scene!

ELLE HARROW and TERRY MARKOWITZ were in the gourmet food and catering business for 20 years. They can be reached for comments or questions at


Where: 328 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach

When: 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays and Mondays 5 to 10

5 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays

5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Prices: (menu prices subject to change)

Appetizers: $10-$23

Small Plates: $7-$16

Entrées: $27-$49

Desserts: $9-$16


By the bottles: $32-$824

Half bottles: $20-$111

By the glass: $8-$35

Corkage Fee: $25

Information: (949) 715-8234,

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World