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Steak with a side of hip

Owners of Selanne's Steak Tavern hope to emulate the success of its namesake, Ducks great Teemu Selanne.

August 08, 2013|By Bryce Alderton | This post has been corrected, as noted below.
  • Jim Shumate, general manager, and chef Josh Severson are preparing for the grand opening of Selanne's Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is named after NHL veteran Teemu Selanne.
Jim Shumate, general manager, and chef Josh Severson… (SCOTT SMELTZER,…)

Jim Shumate can see the replica Stanley Cup trophy gleaming in its case inside a 1930s building along South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

Workers are giving the former French 75 restaurant a makeover in preparation for new occupant Selanne's Steak Tavern, named for Anaheim Ducks legend Teemu Selanne, who owns the business with Kevin Pratt.

Shumate, the restaurant's general manager, walked around the space at 1464 S. Coast Hwy., amid whirring drills and the occasional thuds from hammers last Friday, eyeing the spot where the replica of the trophy marking the Ducks' 2006-07 championship season will reside. Selanne's Olympic medals will also be displayed.

Soon the whirrs and thuds will be replaced by the sound of steaks sizzling inside a 2,500-degree Montague broiler — Shumate calls it the Ferrari of broilers — and customers talking over a lamb burger or lobster risotto.

The restaurant, which Shumate estimates will open in mid-September, will be split into two sections.

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The downstairs area, or tavern, will have hardwood floors and be the more casual space where customers don't need to make reservations, Shumate said.

Tavern menu items include a Knuckle Sandwich, made with lobster and shrimp and a sriracha aioli, and beet ravioli accompanied by hazelnuts and grapefruit. The root vegetable replaces the pasta to encase herbed goat cheese, according to executive chef Josh Severson.

The upstairs will also have hardwood floors and house upscale dining along with a temperature-controlled wine cabinet, Shumate said.

Steakhouse fare includes a 32-ounce bone-in rib eye called the Sir Stanley Cut, Shumate said, and fish and poultry, including a whole branzino baked in a salt crust, according to a sample menu from Severson.

Owners held an extensive search for the head chef, with each candidate cooking dishes as part of the interview process, Shumate said.

Severson, former chef de cuisine at the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort in Dana Point, emerged as the choice.

"When we asked Josh to write the menu ... we were more impressed with that," Shumate said of the former intern at Thomas Keller's Bouchon.

The restaurant's upstairs includes a cozy outdoor deck that the owners may open for seating.

"If you're 6-foot-2, you can see the ocean," Shumate joked about peering over the Surf & Sand Resort — which sits across the street — to see the Pacific.

Owners expect to hire 50 to 60 employees for the opening, according to Shumate.

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