Laguna Restaurants Change Chefs, Menus


By Christopher Trela | NB Indy

Chef Greg Daniels

Chef and Restaurateur Ryan Adams has been at his Three Seventy Common Kitchen+Drink in Laguna Beach for many years, but recently announced that he is handing over the reins of his restaurant to Chef Greg Daniels, former chef-owner of Haven Gastropub and Provisions Market in Old Towne Orange and the creator and chef behind Taco Asylum in Costa Mesa.

I’m told that the decision to sell Three Seventy Common was made so that Chef Adams can focus his attention and efforts on his new concepts, including Buttermilk Fried Chicken, a fast casual restaurant in Old Towne Orange that is based on Adams’ famed Sunday Fried Chicken Nights, and Parallel Pizzeria at The Row on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, which features unique, New Haven-style pizza fired in a charcoal burning oven.

I’ve been to both of those restaurants and they are worth the drive, especially the Buttermilk restaurant. I can envision Chef Adams running with those concepts in other locations.

Once Chef Daniels takes over, he’ll change the name of the restaurant to Harley.

“The restaurant is named for my grandfather, Harley,” explains Daniels. “Let’s face it, the level of hospitality in the restaurant industry around the U.S. is not what it used to be. I aim to bring that back at Harley; when you come into Harley I want you to feel like I did when I went to my grandfather’s house: always welcome, the food was always good, and I left with a feeling of warmth in my heart.”

The restaurant is slated to open mid-October.


Chef Benjamin Martinek

Meanwhile, Montage Laguna Beach has promoted Benjamin Martinek to chef de cuisine of Studio. Martinek has more than 10 years of hospitality industry experience at award-winning restaurants, resorts and hotels, Martinek will oversee all culinary operations for Studio, utilizing the 1,000-square-foot working garden adjacent to the restaurant.

“I am pleased to announce Ben’s promotion to chef de cuisine. He has already established an exemplary rapport with the culinary team at Studio and has a great relationship with our guests as well,” said Anne-Marie Houston, general manager of Montage Laguna Beach.

Over the last seven years, Martinek has served on Montage Laguna Beach’s culinary team, first as a cook at fine dining Studio, as an executive sous chef at all-day, casual The Loft, and then as sous chef at Studio. His dedication to the hospitality and service that is a trademark of Montage Laguna Beach was recognized in 2013 when he was named Montage Laguna Beach employee of the year.

Previously, Martinek worked as chef de partie at Raya at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel and at Cortez and Jardinière, both in San Francisco.



As I mentioned in a recent column, Chef Craig Strong, who served for nine years as executive chef at Studio, is getting ready to open Ocean at Main in downtown Laguna Beach.

Located at 222 Ocean Avenue near Main Beach, Ocean at Main is in the former Taverna location and is slated to open next month. It will be open daily for lunch and dinner.

Strong will continue to support the local agricultural community and regional purveyors he has worked with over the years. He will serve chef-driven, seasonally changing dishes that highlight pristine ingredients – paying tribute to his French mentors like Paul Bocuse, with a slightly “lighter hand.”



Las Brisas ceviche with a view

Las Brisas Executive Chef Jay Scollon has introduced a new dinner menu at the noted Laguna Beach restaurant that offers a handful of new dishes including mussels, classic ceviche, ahi tacos, chipotle barbecued salmon, prime New York steak, lamb shank, branzino a la plancha, and a vegan dish called 3 Sisters vegan ragu.

According to Las Brisas, the vegan ragu, which has roasted squash, corn, black beans, tomato braised vegetables, chickpeas, quinoa, lemon zest, and cilantro, comes from Native American Cuisine. The three sisters refer to winter squash, corn and beans, all of which are featured in this dish. These crops were planted close together because they proved to be mutually beneficial. Corn creates a structure for beans to sprout, the beans add nitrogen to the soil, and squash helps the soil retain moisture.

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