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CHEF STRONG BRINGS HIS 
Recipe for Success 
TO OCEAN AT MAIN

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 BY DENISE MOLNAR 

When a new restaurant opens in the neighborhood, it is always cause for celebration. But when the chef is a highly touted and much loved figure in the culinary world, the excitement grows exponentially. 

Case in point with the opening of the much anticipated Ocean at Main, helmed by Chef Craig Strong. Chef Strong grew up in San Diego and lucky for us made his way back to Southern California by way of L’Academie de Cuisine Maryland, Hotel Arts Barcelona, The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Georgia, Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, and (what is now called) The Langham Huntington in Pasadena which earned a Michelin star for two consecutive years. However, most locals will know Chef Strong from Studio at Montage Laguna Beach where he oversaw the kitchen for the past nine years and which became a much sought after reservation for tourists and locals alike. 

The promise of a terrific dining experience starts the minute you walk into Ocean at Main’s beautifully redesigned space. The open and airy feel with the high white walls, soft color palette, distressed tables, wrought iron appointments and wooden beams are at once upscale and homey. One of the design highlights is the set of murals on the patio done by Laguna Beach artist Boris Buzan. The murals depict a family applying for a bank loan, harkening back to the building’s beginnings as a bank. 

Once you’ve taken in your surroundings, you can turn your attention to the craft cocktail menu, the wine list, or the selection of beers. The cocktail menu is seasonally inspired using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible. The wine menu, with over 50 offerings to choose from, will have something for everyone. Nearly half the wines come from California vineyards while the other choices hail from France, Italy, Australia, Germany and South America. The beer comes from Docent Brewing in San Juan Capistrano and is served from a Braumeister four-tap tower that sits prominently at the bar. 

The food menu, like the cocktail menu, is seasonally inspired. Chef Strong is passionate about using local purveyors, which enables him to create dishes that highlight the best of freshly procured ingredients. 

There are plenty of dishes for pescatarians, chicken lovers, carnivores and vegetarians alike. For appetizers try The Hawaiian Prawn Potato Soup or the Charred Spanish Octopus. The Roasted Beet Salad and the Marinated Tomato Salad are the perfect accompaniments to any dish, such as the Oxtail Kale Risotto, or the Margherita Pizza. For lunch, try the Grilled Pork Belly with Shishito Peppers. Dinner standouts are the Grilled Pacific Swordfish and the Roasted Beef Tenderloin. Don’t forget to finish with dessert! The Sweet Potato Panna Cotta, the Warm Apple Crisp or Craig’s Spice Cake should do the trick! 

Ocean at Main is located at 222 Ocean Avenue in Laguna Beach. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11:00-3:00 pm and dinner nightly from 5:00-10:00 pm. The bar is open daily from 11:00-10:00 pm and serves light bites and flatbreads from 3:00-5:00 pm.