Studio

VERIFIED LUXURY
Housed in a cozy arts and crafts cottage overlooking the ocean, the Five-Star Studio restaurant at Montage Laguna Beach is a study in understated elegance.

The menu features contemporary California cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients. Settle in for a supper made up of divine dishes such as pan-seared John Dory with baby fennel, cipollini onions and caramelized cauliflower and madras curry, or Dungeness crab and ricotta cavatelli with fines herbes and preserved lemon glaze.

The wine cellar features more than 2,200 bottles with plenty of California selections and wines available by the glass.
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Our Inspector's Highlights
• The beachfront location is a big part of the appeal here — the freestanding cottagey building sits atop a 50-foot bluff providing grand, sweeping panoramas of the Pacific Ocean and the lush California landscape.

• Whether you sit inside next to a floor-to-ceiling window or you take advantage of the outdoor patio, you’ll be treated to some of the very best views in all of Laguna Beach.

• The Orange County eatery’s early opening time is a reflection of the restaurant’s location in the somewhat sleepy Laguna Beach, a town that leans more toward the laid-back surfer lifestyle than one of glitzy nightclubs and late-night dinners.

• From the sweeping vistas to the shared dishes and top-notch wines, Studio provides the ultimate atmosphere for romance.

• Studio’s menu stars modern French cuisine with a focus on seafood, farm-raised meats and artisanal ingredients. Since chef Craig Strong likes to use only the freshest ingredients, the menu changes with the seasons.
Things to Know
• Sitting right in the heart of the artistic town of Laguna Beach you’ll find the Five-Star restaurant Studio, located at 30801 South Coast Hwy. It’s about a 60-minute drive from both Los Angeles and San Diego and is part of the Montage Laguna Beach hotel.

• Studio at the Montage Laguna Beach serves only dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5-10 p.m. The best time to eat at this elegant Five-Star spot is around dusk when you can take in the full splendor of a California sunset.

• Even though the Five-Star restaurant is in the heart of surfer paradise, you’ll have to dress up a bit to dine at Studio (sorry, no board shorts allowed — it’s strictly business causal). Men are not required to wear jackets and ties, but we do suggest they do don a pair of dress pants and a button-up shirt, while ladies will feel comfortable in a sundress or a simple cocktail number.

• To score a reservation (which is highly recommended), you can call the Five-Star California restaurant directly or log on to its online page at OpenTable.com. If you’re staying at the Montage Laguna Beach resort, speak with the concierge to reserve a table for dinner.

• Children are welcome here, but unless your little ones are extremely mature eaters, they won’t find many items on the menu that will please them.
The Food
• Among the ever-changing menu items, you might see options like wild New Zealand sea bass with roasted Brussels sprouts; sautéed Monterey calamari with tarbais white beans, chorizo and sweet pepper confit; or a Vintage Farms filet with morel mushrooms and bordelaise sauce.

• You’d be hard-pressed to find a better cheese course than the one at Studio. Order up to five different cheeses from the menu, including cow, goat and sheep milk varieties from France and California.

• If it’s available, start with the seared Hudson Valley Farms fois gras. This delicious bite is served with caramelized onions, Asian pear salad and banyuls gastrique (a thick sauce made from dessert wine).

• Desserts also change seasonally to reflect what’s really fresh. You might see sweet treats such as warm carrot cake with pineapple cream cheese mousse and ginger ice cream, as well as the blackberry tart on kataifi pastry with lavender cream and honey goat yogurt ice cream.
The Chef
• When you’re practically licking your plate clean at Studio, you’ll have chef Craig Strong to thank. He’s been helming the Five-Star restaurant as executive chef since June 2009.

• Strong has been passionate about cooking since childhood. As one of eight children growing up in San Diego, his mother and grandmother encouraged him to grow tomatoes and zucchini in the family garden.

• At age 19, Strong attended L’Academie de Cuisine near Washington, D.C., where he studied under respected chefs like Pascal Dinot. He went on to hold several culinary positions across the country.

• Strong later took his talents to Europe, where he worked as a sous chef in a fine dining restaurant in Barcelona. It was there he learned to embrace the bold flavors and rustic style of Spanish cuisine.
Getting There
30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California 92651
TEL949-715-6420
Studio
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