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Glori us: dining out

Glori Fickling For The Coastline Pilot

Fascinating Forest Avenue in downtown Laguna Beach has long been a

delightful art and dining mecca with its assortment of unusual galleries

and variety of diverse restaurants.

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The Sundried Tomato Cafe, which debuted on the scene less than a year

ago, has brought to our popular resort community a menu of eclectic

taste sensations, a trio of superlative settings and music that

melodically wafts through the air on weekends.

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Executive chef Mark Jacobi and his equally enterprising co-owner, Rob

Quest, have somewhat cloned their highly successful Sundried Tomato Cafe

and Catering Company, which has prevailed on West Chapman Avenue in

Orange for more than 10 years. It follows that the tried and true

bill-of-fare immediately captivated local foodies who happily comprise

the basis of the enthusiastic clientele.

In addition to half a dozen dinner selections, which are doubled with

as many nightly specials of generously portioned fish, meat and poultry

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entrees, the menu tempts varied tastes with an octave of starters, a

dozen-plus “lighter faire” treats to appease less than hearty appetites

and several imaginative pastas.

Take the addictive appetizer of crunchy spring rolls laden with

succulent blackened chicken breast in a pool of spicy cilantro pesto. Or

the tangy salad of slivered greens and vegetables tossed with roasted

pine nuts, Gorgonzola and cranraisens for a sweet-sour-spicy tang.

Share these with a partner and a lively chardonnay or robust merlot

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for a satisfying light lunch or dinner and leave happily satiated.

Or continue the experience with heartier fare.

“Sauce is the mother of all foods,” says chef Jacobi expressing his

penchant for complex and contrasting seasonings. This is apparent in such

embellishments as a glazing of dried cranberries to enhance pork

tenderloin sided with garlic au gratin potatoes and a grilled vegetable

wrap. Or creamy sundried tomato for tender chicken breast featured with

sauteed vegetables and roasted red potatoes.

That creamy sundried tomato emerges again with Gorgonzola happily

embracing delicate angel hair pasta. Fresh produce accompanying hearty

entrees translates to a colorful melange of julienned and chunky

vegetables.

Potatoes available in many guises from roasted red and au gratin style

to mashed with garlic or grainy mustard add to the wide choice o dinner

entrees ranging from $14.95 to $23.95. Pastas and light fare are $9.95 to

$18.95. Lunch selections range from $4.50 to $11.95.

Beginnings and decadent desserts, like yummy chocolate bourbon pecan

pie with vanilla ice cream, range from $1.50 to $12.95 at lunch as well

as dinner.

Wines are another source of pride here; the list of almost 100

offerings is continually being expanded. Why not indulge?

An adventuresome stroll on the beach is a mere street away. There’s a

choice of patio or indoor seating on the lower level and a staircase

leads up to the alfresco deck where overhead heaters ward off the evening

chill. The soothing saxophone sounds of Urmas Mass fill the air on Friday

evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons you’ll be charmed by the

enchanting guitar rhythms of popular Emilio Castillo, a Laguna Beach

favorite who just released a new CD titled “Emilio Castillo Modern

Gypsy.”

The Sundried Tomato Cafe and Catering Company

WHERE: 361 Forest Ave.

HOURS: Open every day. Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Dinner 5 to 9

p.m. until 10 p.m. weekends.

PHONE: 494-3312


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