Broadway by Amar Santana is a neighborhood gem in downtown Laguna Beach, California.
This restaurant has been on my list for a long time; when I read that Amar Santana is going to be on the upcoming season of Top Chef, we headed down for dinner before the show starts to experience his restaurant and food. I am a Top Chef fanatic and try to eat at Top Chef restaurants whenever I can.
Let me just say that the next time you find yourself in Laguna Beach, make a dinner reservation and go. I hope you will love the food and restaurant as much as we did. See if you can spot him in the small, cool open kitchen.
The restaurant is chic, urban and a little industrial. Feels a bit like a New York eatery. The service was top notch. The restaurant is staffed very well and they all pitch in to ensure their guests have excellent service. There is something to be said of a restaurant when you find the Sommelier clearing a table, classy!
4 of us dined on a Saturday night and here is what I can share with you on the food. The dishes are elevated and beautifully plated. You will feel the love and respect for each and every ingredient and Amar Santana’s vision and creativity is to be respected.
The wine list is extensive as is the cocktail list, they do offer a full bar, which opens at 4:30 and you can order off the full menu at the bar. The wine menu offers a good selection of wines by the glass and a large by the bottle menu. I will tell you the wines are on the pricey side, but not any higher than any other fine dining restaurants in the area. The restaurant charges a $30 corkage fee per bottle with a maximum of 2 bottles that are not on their wine list. Wednesday nights they will waive the corkage fee.
On a side note, we had a table next to us that was a man on a date who was trying to impress his date. They each ordered a glass of white wine, they asked for the house white, they don’t have a house wine. The sommelier brought a glass of white to each of them, and it was the least expensive white they offer. The gentleman trying to impress asked the sommelier to just leave the bottle, which he did. When the bill came, he asked for the restaurant manager and fought the charge, but he and his date had no problem finishing the $80 bottle. He made quite a scene; wonder if she will go out with him again? The restaurant manager attempted to solve the problem, was more than fair, but nothing was going to make this man happy except a free bottle of wine.
Just pay attention to the pricing if you are on a budget.
Let’s get to the food….it is amazing. Let me apologize first for the darkness of the photos, the restaurant is a bit dark adding to the ambiance. But it makes photographing a bit difficult. The cheese plate is beautiful. There were 4 cheeses, dried fruits and 2 fresh jams on the plate and were served with a few pieces of walnut toast.
The butternut squash soup was scrumptious. Full of butternut sweetness, served with a few ham hock stuffed tortellini and topped with a pomegranate glaze which added a rich layer of flavor. The soup special of the night was a mushroom soup, with a peanut foam and chopped peanuts. Who knew mushrooms and peanuts would compliment each other so well. The mushroom soup on it’s own was earthy, creamy and rich in the woody flavor of the mushroom. The peanut foam on top was beautiful and the crunch of the chopped peanuts added a bit of texture to the creaminess of the soup.
On to dinner, let’s start with the Tagliatelle Pasta with Sonoma rabbit, castelvetano olives which are grown in Sicily. They have an intense green color and they added a bit of sweetness to the dish, top it off with freshly grated Pecorino cheese. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce had a richness to it that made you want to lick the bowl clean. The skirt steak sitting atop a deep rich glazed onion jus with Chimichurri sauce and served with roasted fingerling potatoes was melt in your mouth tender. The chimichurri was fresh, full of flavor and you could taste each level of spice and it brightened the dish perfectly. Add in salted potatoes, each bite was well balanced.
On to the other two dishes, the Pork Delmonico steak was cooked beautifully, this is a large piece of meat, good for 2 to share. On the side they served Cranberry Baked Beans. You taste the tangyness of the cranberry and the sweet bbq flavor of baked beans, yum! For the vegetarian in the group, they offer a Mediterranean Couscous dish topped with roasted vegetables and a spicy housemade Harissa sauce and a lemon yogurt sauce to add a touch of acid and cut a bit of the spiciness from the Harissa. The vegetables were braised and tender, just the way I love them. The vegetables are not your typical mixed vegetables; we had butternut squash, cauliflower, and tender carrots. The dish was beautiful and each bite was a burst of flavor in the mouth.
Top Chef starts tomorrow, Dec. 2nd on Bravo, I can’t wait to see how Amar does, we will be rooting for him. Can’t wait to dine at Broadway again, it was a fun, cultural foodie trip and I encourage you to give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. The location in downtown Laguna is fantastic, make a day of it, shopping and eating.
As far as parking, downtown Laguna can be tricky especially during tourist season. They have 16 free parking spots in the US Bank parking lot, if you find this full, start searching for metered street parking.
You can reserve on Open Table: http://www.broadwaybyamarsantana.com/reservations/
Restaurant Website: http://www.broadwaybyamarsantana.com/