The weekend before last, I had the distinct pleasure of being treated to a tasting at the brand new Broadway by Amar Santana, down in Laguna. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word, but nothing sums up my dining experience there better than, “sublime.” Everything about this meal was fantastic. My friend Chrissy, who’s father does the Oscar Dinner I post about every year, invited me to join her and her parents for dinner. Her aunt’s husband is a partner in the restaurant and it is becoming a family affair. Her aunt will help out on the floor, and their daughter is working as a host.
The space is amazing. It’s on the small side, but it makes it feel intimate as opposed to claustrophobic, and the decor is lovely. The name fits in with the theme of the restaurant – and there are beautiful paintings of the New York skyline on the wall. Their hot line is open kitchen, and the chef’s table is the counter surrounding. We were lucky enough to sit there so we could watch the bustling activity. (Another plus – Chef Adrien, who I believe is the sous, is really cute! Why hide that in the back?!)
From the chef’s table, you can see all the activity on the hot line – including executive chef and partner, Amar Santana.Chef Amar was previously executive chef at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales’ South Coast Plaza, and has quite an impressive resume:
The open kitchen is supposed to be like a Broadway show, and it IS an incredible display. But just as delightful (and more importantly) is the food. This was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Chrissy and I both started with a cocktail called, “Mayan Eyes,” which had Corazon blanco tequila, Xtabenten Honey Liqueur, Tangerine, Lime, Cilantro, and 2 Jalapeño slices. It was fresh and delicious, and the jalapeño was intriguing!
I don’t know who their mixologist is but they have a interesting variety of specialty drinks, and if they are all as delicious as the “Mayan Eyes” I could go hang out just to get drunk…wait…does that sound bad?
Bread is brought around in a basket – buns of different styles, like potato, rosemary, and sourdough. They also serve these really beautiful breadsticks. Butter is served on a slate slab, with pepper, and if you take a breadstick and twirl it in the butter and dip it in the pepper it is delicious.
The salad: heirloom carrot and tomatoes with raw and pickled carrot, carrot emulsion, parsley oil, and feta. Light, yet flavorful.
The first course was a play on a New York favorite: lox and cream cheese on an everything bagel! The salmon filet had an “everything” crust (shaved dried garlic and onion, sesame, poppy and salt),
fried capers, fried salmon skin, salmon roe, finished with lemon oil and dill, citrus creme fraiche. Perfectly cooked and an excellent interpretation of the inspiration.
Second course: Grilled pork chop with chanterelle, shitake, and enoki with mushroom consome and tempura green onion. Beautiful.
Third course was a filet with potato-bacon gratin and fried onion garnish. Oh my god. The meat was so tender and flavorful, and the potato-bacon gratin was AH-MAZING! Chrissy’s aunt Kathy was getting full and didn’t want hers so when she offered it to me, I took it! (Fatty fatterson that I am…)
And after the pork and the filet it was nice to have a light dessert: Quince, saffron ice cream, crumbled shortbread, candied pistachios, and pomegranate reduction. I’d never had whole quince before. I’d had quince jelly, but not the actual fruit. It was nice. The saffron ice cream was probably the most delectable ice cream I’ve ever had, and the texture pairing with the shortbread was perfect.
I firmly believe that everyone should try this restaurant if they can. Chef Amar’s food is a work of art, the ambience of the restaurant is just fantastic – I could spend all day there, and the staff is ridiculously friendly. I definitely intend on going back, even though it’s like a freaking pilgrimage for me to get down there. :) But it will totally be worth it.
Broadway by Amar Santana
328 Glenneyre St
Laguna Beach, CA 92651