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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.