373 So. Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, CA. 92651
Phone: (949) 497-5100
I was down in Laguna Beach on Monday night attending the summer art festivals. After the four of us walked around looking at tons of art that we couldn’t afford, we decided we were hungry. I remembered eating at a little French restaurant called Cest La Vie for lunch a while back. I remember that the restaurant had an amazing view of the ocean from their back patio, but had just ok food. I thought it would be nice to stare at the ocean as the sun went down, so I suggested it. Since no one else had any ideas, we decided it was worth a shot.
Cest La Vie is located off of PCH just south of Laguna Canyon Road. As you walk into Cest La Vie, you will see their pastry cases to the right, where they sell various cakes, croissants and other pastries. There is an average sized dining room to the left, and the most popular dining area, their back patio, is in the rear. We asked for a table for 4 on the back patio and were directed to a table by a female that turned out to be our waitress.
I looked over the menu and I was surprised at how different it was from their lunch menu. The last time I ate here for lunch, it was more of a coffee shop menu. The dinner menu looked more appropriate for a French restaurant. Out in front of the restaurant, they had a sign advertising a $14.99 early bird dinner from 4:30 PM-7:30 PM. I couldn’t quite recall the three dishes that were offered with this special though. The waitress came over and told us about a special fish dish they had for the evening as well as a steak and shrimp special for $40. When she was done, I asked her about the early bird special. She looked at me with a look of confusion and said, “I just told you tonight’s special.” I told her I was asking about the early bird special they had advertised in front of the restaurant that included lobster. (Keep in mind that this was a permanent plastic sign, not a hand written special.) She said she didn’t know what I was talking about and would have to go ask.
After a few minutes the waitress came back and told us that the early bird dinner was $14.99 and we had our choice of a lobster tail, filet of sole or something else…..I think it was pork. I asked her if she knew how the lobster was prepared and what it was served with. “No,” she said. J asked her if she knew how the fish was prepared. The waitress then responded with “No…..I don’t cook it, how would I know how it’s prepared?” We were dumbfounded to say the least. J asked is she could find out how it was prepared. The waitress rolled her eyes and said that she’d have to ask the chef.
The waitress came back and said that the Filet of Sole was grilled and topped with a lemon butter caper sauce. The lobster was steamed and served on a bed of Fettuccini Alfredo. She also brought four wine glasses with one sip of wine in each of them. “This is our recommended wine for the evening,” she said. “Since tonight is Monday, all bottles of wine are 50% off.” I asked her how much a bottle of this featured wine was and she told me she had no idea and would have to check. She seemed really annoyed that I asked. After a few minutes she came back to the table and said, “We don’t have any more of that wine. It’s just for tasting.” Ok………..whatever……
She asked us if we were ready to order and I told her that we were. “GREAT!!!…..I can’t WAIT to see what YOU guys are gonna order!” she said extremely sarcastically. I thought her response was kind of odd, but just laughed it off and ordered my meal. I ordered the Lobster special ($14.95), J ordered the Filet of Sole special ($14.95) and V ordered Pasta Provencal ($16.00). Then it was R’s turn to order. There was only one burger on the menu and it was called the Cest La Vie Supreme ($14). R told the waitress, “I’ll have the burger.” The waitress looked at him and said, “You want a hamburger? Do we serve burgers?” R responded, “Yes, you have a burger on your menu.” The waitress asked him to point it out on the menu so he did. “Oh…..I didn’t know we had that. The only burger I know about is on the kids menu. I thought you were trying to order off the kids menu.” As the waitress wrote down his order and started to walk away, I casually said to her “Did you say you were new here?” “No…I’m not new here,” she said and walked away.
After a while, the waitress returned with 4 small espresso cups. She told us that they were filled with the chef’s taste for the evening, Lobster Bisque. The lobster bisque was quite good. It was really creamy with a good punch to your mouth of lobster flavor. I would have considered buying a full cup or bowl of this but the waitress didn’t offer, and I didn’t ask.
Our food arrived and I thought that all of our dishes looked great. The lobster tail on my plate was actually bigger than I was expecting. It wasn’t huge, but bigger than I expected for $14.95. The lobster was coated in a lot of Cajun spices that took me by surprise. It wasn’t bad, but I could have done without it. The noodles that the lobster was served on seemed to be more like buttered noodles with a little garlic and Parmesan than Fettuccini Alfredo.
J said that her fish was pretty good but thought that it could have used more lemon.
R’s burger was served with avocado, bacon, cheese, lettuce tomato and onion. R said that it wasn’t bad, but didn’t think it was particularly special either.
V’s pasta was served with goat cheese, olives and bell peppers. She thought it was a little bland but liked that it had a lot of goat cheese in it. She also felt that there were a few too many olives in it.
Overall, everyone thought that the food here was ok, but not spectacular. The best part about this restaurant is the gorgeous view from the back patio. The prices are also pretty reasonable. If you’re looking for an average restaurant, with a nice ocean view, Cest La Vie might be your place. I just hope that you don’t get the same waitress that I did!