Monday, April 25, 2011

Surf, Sand and Sapphire

Every once in a while you find a real gem during your travels. The kind of place you can't wait to return to and, when you do, it is as good as you remember it.

For me, that place is Sapphire Restaurant in Laguna Beach.  Sapphire is located at the historic Pottery Shack site at the end of a fun array of stores (including my favorite book store).   From the moment you arrive, feelings of tranquility, warmth and hospitality surround you.  Not to mention the ocean views are pretty darn good too!

I've not dined inside the restaurant itself for the patio is generally available if you go at non-peak hours or during the off season.  The patio is also pet-friendly, so not only do you have gourmet food and great views of the Pacific, you can enjoy it with your best friend too!  However, be prepared to be convivial and charming for there is communal seating if you have not made a reservation or they are very busy.

It was a beautiful day at the beach, the type appropriate for hedonistic pleasures, so I ordered a Sans Permis.  Many are fans of Mimosas.  True, they are enjoyable, but nothing compares to the unique flavors and elegance of a Sans Permis.  I immediately fell in love with this late-morning cocktail, so I inquired about its ingredients and process.   Sapphire’s mixologist uses local honey, infuses it with lavender and orange rind, and lets it sit at least one day before using.  After the honey is properly infused, a little bit is drizzled into the bowl of a champagne glass and spread by straw to give it a nice light coat. Then an ounce of Cointreau is added to the glass and topped by Cava (a Spanish sparkling wine).  Trust me, the next time you want to kick up lunch or brunch, this is the way to go.

The weekend Brunch Menu – called “Global Cuisine” -- is a feast of options, and if you can't make up your mind I'd recommend The Brunch Box which is "5 Different Tastes in a Surprise Presentation" paired with a Mimosa or Bloody Mary and coffee for $24.50.    

I had been dreaming about the Crazy Cobb Salad since my last visit.  You probably think this does not sound very original and why would I be raving about gourmet food and then order a salad?   But this is not an ordinary Cobb salad; it is a Crazy Cobb Salad filled with Lobster, Chicken, Scallops, Shrimp, Smoked Pork, and Baby Vegetables and lightly dressed with a Creamy Tarragon Dressing.  When the Mamas and the Pappas wrote “California Dreamin’,” they may have been thinking about a salad just like this one.  The Crazy Cobb Salad is as Southern California as the Beach Boys, roller blading along the Strand and Venice Beach.  I can almost smell the salt water as I write these words.  Yum!

But Sapphire is not a one trick salad bar.  My unnamed companion ordered the Southern-Fried Chicken Salad, which is another absolutely delectable dish. The fried chicken is cooked to perfection!  Crisp but not oily; moist but not bland.   The fried chicken is perfectly complimented by Baby Field Greens, Pecans, Roast Corn, Dried Cranberries and a Buttermilk-Ranch Dressing.

It's an early lunch as we are attending a dinner party that night, but our server somehow manages to convince us to try the Pavlova.  No, he was not administering a psychological test and the source for the dish’s name is unknown to me.  But the dessert turns out to be a light, fluffy, golden meringue dancing on a bed of fresh berries.  Pure bliss.

Sapphire has extensive lunch, brunch and dinner menus, along with a wonderfully thoughtful cocktail and wine list.  If you want to enjoy great food, but prefer to do so surfside, you are in luck for the adjacent Sapphire's Pantry has a great selection of salads, sandwiches, cheeses, breads and wine to make your picnic special.

Sapphire Restaurant Laguna Beach
1200 Pacific Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Pet Friendly Patio

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