Beverage directors at the prestigious Bellagio.
This followed their launching in 1989 of no less than five
restaurants at The Mirage. To their credit now is the appointment
locally of executive chef Marc Ashok from San Clemente's Pacific Golf
Club and of Mike Van Horn from the Dana Point Ritz Carlton in the
role of consulting chef.
In a genuinely ambitious effort to attract locals, the Winches
totally gutted the interior to expedite a more casual setting. Black
and white checkerboard flooring, personally constructed by energetic
Susan Winch with 15-inch textured tile squares, sets the pace for a
rather spare New York cafe type ambience. The place is now divided by
an open-windowed wall where a wine and martini bar on one side caters
to diners. The opposing dining area sports a display kitchen fronted
with a granite topped breakfast bar equipped with half a dozen
aluminum-finished beer barrel seats topped with blue fabric
Black cane back chairs accompany table settings in both rooms and,
as a gracious invitation for local artists to display their
paintings, walls are strikingly white punctuated with reflecting
mirrors at the entry. For a touch of whimsy check out the "Holy Cow"
cartoon perched atop beer barrels slurping a mug of suds. Alfresco
seating is offered above the colorful garden exterior fronting Coast
Highway and again on the spacious rear patio enhanced with a bubbling
fountain and verdant foliage.
In keeping with the desire to please Laguna tastes, the current
menu is somewhat limited, to be expanded as local dining preferences
are evaluated. Currently there are half a dozen hefty appetizers at
$5.95 to $7.95 ranging from Italian antipasto to quesadillas to mini
burgers to a Thai beef summer roll seasoned with cilantro and spicy
chili dressing. A quintet of salads in the $8 range reflect
international flavors including a Mediterranean toss and the Oriental
chicken salad lavished with almonds, sprouts, rice noodles and snow
peas in honey sesame dressing.
Sandwiches are tabbed from $6.50 to $8.50, each served with a
choice of crisp shoestring fries, fresh fruit or kettle chips.