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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Stonehill Tavern - St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach

Stonehill Tavern
1 Monarch Beach Resort
Dana Point, CA 92629
Tel: 949.234.3318

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited down to Michael Mina's restaurant, Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, to try the new tasting menu. I know that sometimes I review fast food joints on this blog. Well, Stonehill Tavern would be as opposite of a fast food joint that you can get. This restaurant is the epitome of fine dining. The food and service at this establishment are truly first-class.

The evening started out on the gorgeous balcony with the Seasonal Shellfish Platter ($29pp). This item is not usually included with the tasting menu. We were also given a couple of Stonehill Tavern's signature cocktails to try, the Violet Turning Violet and the Moscow Mule.

The platter consisted of some of the freshest shellfish from the sea served in a variety of imaginative ways. On the shellfish platter were (from left to right) a kumamoto oyster, giant clam ceviche, marinated abalone sashimi, spot prawn cocktail, dungeness crab leg and uni flan.

Next, we were moved inside to start the tasting menu. The tasting menu is $148 per person. You can add a wine pairing to each course for an extra $95 or a pairing of alternate alcoholic beverages (think cocktails, sake and more) for $65 per person. Below are the courses that we sampled (Selections may vary).

Ahi Tuna Tartar (image courtesy of Stonehill Tavern)

Smoked Salmon with Cucumber Dill Yogurt Sauce and Pumpernickel Toast

"Three Eggs" Layers of Uni Custard, Scrambled Chicken Egg and Wasabi Tobiko Caviar

Dry-Boat Halibut with Asparagus, Green Almonds, Ramps and Pancetta

Lobster Pot Pie

Grimaud Farms Duck with Black Barley and Baby Turnips

Wagyu Striploin with Porcini, Broccoli and Bone Marrow

Melted Camembert on House-Made Brioche with Rhubarb Confiture

Raspberry Curd

The menu included a variety of artfully presented delights. My two favorites for the evening would have to be the Grimaud Farms Duck and the Lobster Pot Pie. All of the above dishes are available in a larger entree size. I am told that if you order the entree size Lobster Pot Pie, it comes in a large copper kettle with an entire lobster inside. S's favorite dish of the night was the halibut.

Overall, I know this restaurant may be out of price-range for a lot of you. If you can swing it though, you are in for a real treat. I have been to many fine dining restaurants in my life and Stonehill Tavern has some of the finest service of any restaurant I have been to. The attention to detail and the presentation that the chef puts into each dish makes each plate a feast for both the eyes and your stomach. The next time you are looking for a fine dining restaurant, make sure that Stonehill Tavern is on your list of considerations.
Stonehill Tavern on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Taps Fish House & Brewery Brunch - Brea

Taps Fish House and Brewery
101 E. Imperial Hwy
Brea, CA 92821
Reservations: 714-257-0101

I was lucky enough to recently try the Sunday brunch at Taps Fish House and Brewery in Brea. This was one of those brunches that I had always meant to try, but never got around to. I don't know what took me so long. Taps Fish House has an enormous buffet style Sunday brunch. The price for brunch is $35.99 and it is served from 9:30 AM-2:30 PM. On an average Sunday, the restaurant serves about 750 people for brunch. On a holiday, they serve around 1,000. The brunch spread boasts over 100 items and includes your choice of two beers or unlimited champagne and mimosas. In addition to the buffet, there are also some made-to-order items included with the brunch that you can get from the kitchen, such as omelettes and breakfast burritos. Below are some photos I took of the buffet.
"Chilled" Seafood Mediterranean Station Roast Beef Carving Station Eggs Benedict House Made Cinnamon Rolls House Special Omelette Beignets $1 extra for 7 My First Plate
Overall I was very impressed with the variety and selection of food items offered. You will find a variety of breakfast and lunch favorites, cold and hot seafood, soups, salads, desserts and more. My only concern was that the "chilled" seafood wasn't really that cold. I would call it more "room temperature" seafood. Also, in my opinion, you're better off skipping the extra $1 beignets and opting for the included dessert buffet. Overall, it was a fantastic brunch spread. I look forward to visiting again soon.
Taps Fish House & Brewery on Urbanspoon