Chef Craig Strong, after serving nine years as executive chef at award-winning Studio restaurant, is opening and cheffing his own restaurant, Ocean at Main, in downtown Laguna Beach. Located at 222 Ocean Avenue near Main Beach, Ocean at Main is in the former Taverna location.
Ocean at Main is located in the early 1940s iconic building that housed the venerable Laguna Beach financial institution, Laguna Federal Savings, whose motto was, “We’re local and we love it.” The historic building’s structure and existing Mission Craftsman-style will remain like the prominent wooden beams, trim and cabinets. And Tuvalu, known for its use of coastal-centric design, will introduce new tables and upholstered and cushioned chairs and ocean blue, sea glass and sea foam hues to the indoor dining area, bar and lounge and outdoor patio with its stunning focal point – an existing tiled mural and fountain.
After nearly 25 years of working at luxury hotels and resorts around the globe, Strong has come full circle to his native Southern California roots with the opening of Ocean at Main. From growing up in San Diego and cooking with produce from the family garden, this chef/owner is now sharing his Coastal California cuisine with the community he has embraced for the last 10 years.
The Chef Says…“I want to cook for our guests the way I cook for my family and friends at home. At Ocean at Main, I will celebrate the diversity, freshness and healthy lifestyle of Southern California. We will procure our ingredients from the local farmers and meat, seafood and specialty vendors whom I have been working and collaborating with for years. Coaxing the true flavors from exceptional products is always my goal.”
Talking about Teamwork…Strong has assembled a team of talented culinary and hospitality shining lights who are an important part of his restaurant dream. Dylan Cloughen will serve as general manager and key front-of-the-house guest pleaser. Kristin Morgan, a certified sommelier, will manage Ocean at Main’s 50-bottle plus wine inventory featuring California wines and global selections and is in charge of the beverage program. The pro responsible for Ocean at Main’s deeply satisfying desserts like Tainori Chocolate Torte is Pastry Chef Keara Wilson.
At the Bar…The main attractions at the bar are creatively crafted signature cocktails such as the St. Clair with Ketel One Vodka, St. Germain, cucumber and mint; and the Lover’s Beach Retreat with jalapeño infused Arette tequila, passionfruit, lime, agave and hibiscus-basil foam. Two handsome, sleek Braumeister ceramic four-tap towers with a unique and classy Old World look dispense locally crafted beer, Kombucha and cold brew coffee.
Announcing the Menus…At dinner, the menu will begin with simply delicious temptations, perhaps Hawaiian Prawn Potato Soup or Charred Spanish Octopus with cauliflower ratatouille, carnival amaranth and parsley sauce. Then guests can choose Dungeness Crab Cavatelli, Pressed Organic Chicken, Pan Seared Pork Chops or Oxtail Kale Risotto.
Laguna Beach locals and tourists can now escape to a “secret” haunt from humdrum midday fare where they will be offered great flavorful food for lunch. They can start with Chilled Kusshi Oysters or Squash Blossom Tempura and then enjoy a salad like Baby Spinach Caesar or Roasted Beet Salad with beet tartare, beet “yolk,” crème fraîche and horseradish snow. Also, on the menu are not-run-of-the-mill sandwiches like Grilled Pork Belly “PLT” with blistered shishito peppers and Spicy Ahi Tuna Tartare Tartin. For heartier lunch lovers is a mouth-watering selection of pasta and flatbreads and main courses such as Beef Tournedos with roasted sunchokes and bordelaise.
At Ocean at Main, the desserts are hardly an afterthought. There will be Craig’s Spice Cake with cinnamon meringue and crème fraîche ice cream and Sweet Potato Panna Cotta with poached pear and more yumminess too.
The Kids Menu offers flavorful favorites like Small Mozzarella Cheese and Tomato Pizza and House Breaded Organic Chicken Tenders, but “adventurous young eaters” can order smaller portions off the regular menus.
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