Taste and Presentation Delight Diners at Studio

BEST VIEW COMES TO THE TABLE

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BY DENISE MOLNAR 

The Montage brand has always been synonymous with luxury and nowhere is this more evident than at the Montage Laguna Beach. The sweeping views of the Pacific from the lobby do more than just hint that a special experience awaits. As you meander through the lush grounds toward the sound of crashing waves below you will arrive at the resort’s warm and inviting Forbes Five-star restaurant, Studio. 

Chef Benjamin Martinek is the new creative force behind this delicious and innovative dining experience. Growing up in Colorado, Chef Martinek knew from an early age that he wanted to become a chef. Making his way to California, he trained at the California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon bleu, San Francisco. After his time in the Bay Area, Chef Martinek moved down the coast to South Orange County where he spent some time at the Ritz Carlton Dana Point before arriving at the Montage. Although Chef de Cuisine is a new title for Martinek, he has been part of the culinary team at the Montage for the past eight years. Starting as a cook at Studio, he moved to The Loft, the resort’s casual dining restaurant, where he became executive sous chef, then back to Studio as executive sous chef until he was given the opportunity to take the helm. 

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Chef’s culinary creativity is immediately evident at first glance of Studio’s seasonal fare. He likes to elevate each item on the menu by showcasing fresh ingredients from the resort’s very own garden whenever possible. The amuse bouche of toasted brioche, Jamon iberico, pickled fennel and fennel pollen, and the hors d’oeuvre of abalone with black trumpet potato puree and golden chanterelle mushroom are among the must-try farm fresh delicacies. If it’s seafood that you love, then the roasted Morro Bay sablefish with smoked brandade espuma, golden char roe, crispy hen of the woods mushroom and kombu is amazing. If meat is calling to you, the Superior Farms lamb loin with Swiss chard subric, chanterelles, charred onion and lamb brodo is superb. Can’t decide? I recommend the tasting menu so you don’t have to! 

Studio also has an extensive vegetarian menu, which can accommodate vegan diners, and it is next level. The confit root vegetables with coconut curry was almost enough to make this carnivore convert. Definitely the most creative offering on the vegetarian menu is the tiny crudite, which arrives in a mason jar surrounded by greens. A selection of miniature carrots, radishes, turnips, and the like with their greens popping out, sit in hen of the woods mushroom espuma and kalamata olive “top soil” with puffed grains. No flatware necessary as you pull your vegetables out of that delicious “soil” to enjoy. The black sesame pave with aquafaba meringue, cassis, pomegranate seeds and coconut sorbet was an exquisite topper to a delicious modern French gourmet meal – vegetarian or otherwise. 

Just as the food menu has something for every palate, so does the wine list. With approximately 2,500 wine selections and 30,000 bottles in inventory you are sure to find more than one right choice to compliment your experience. Don’t save Studio for a special occasion…dining there makes any day special! 

Montage Laguna Beach 
30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach 
949.715.6010 | www.montagehotels.com