Four Great Places to Eat in the O.C. 

By Advocate Contributors

Originally published on Advocate.com February 10 2012 5:00 AM ET

Orange County, California might conjure up
visions of augmented Housewives and buff beach bodies frolicking in the sand.
But more LGBT visitors these days are coming to the seaside towns to taste, not
tan. Creative chefs from around the world cook up “green” gourmet dishes inside
luxe hotels that offer up Pacific views. Here’s a roundup of spots — most
within a five-minute drive of each other — to dine, drink, and sleep it off in
the O.C. Montage Laguna Beach

Along
with sustainable, seafood-centric fare (sautéed Alaskan halibut with parsnips,
roasted apples and Marcona almonds), the posh beachfront hotel’s pair of
restaurants offer education while you eat. The Studio’s wine program boasts a
collection of more than 45,000 bottles and 2,100 labels and eight sommeliers to
lead you through the list, and the Loft’s trio of fromagiers offer customized
tastings from selection of more than 200 cheeses. There’s also an assortment of
honeys from near and far, including a rare little number harvested from a cave
in Iraq. (www.montagelagunabeach.com)MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACH 560x (SCREEN) ADVOCATE.COM

 

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

At just
27 years old, chef Marissa Gerlach has taken the Ritz’s Raya restaurant into
creative “comfort food” territory, serving an assortment of tacos (like smoked
swordfish with pickled chilies and mango salsa, and pork belly with habanero
coleslaw and kabayaki). Chefs partner with local purveyors and fisherman on
menu selections, and following the farm-to-table trend, the outdoor kitchen
garden just past the pool provides produce and herbs to punctuate the menu.
While the garden is too small to serve the 109-seat restaurant, that lemongrass
in your cocktail was likely grown out back.  (www.ritzcarlton.com)

 

RITZ CARLTON 560x (SCREEN) ADVOCATE.COM

 

Balboa Bay Club & Resort

Like the
name suggests, the First Cabin Restaurant is a few feet way from Newport Beach
waterfront and close enough to see inside the docked multi-million-dollar
yachts. The menu highlights steak and seafood (including slow-roasted beef
short ribs and sea scallop and shrimp curry) and Austrian-born chef Josef
Lageder adds some European fare with the paprika rahm schnitzel with veal
scaloppini, spatzle, and braised red cabbage. There are 600 wines for pairing,
from local vineyards to French champagne. (www.balboabayclub.com)

 

BALBOA BAY CLUB AND RESORT 560x (COURTESY) ADVOCATE.COMSurf & Sand Resort

Terraced
25 feet above the beach, Splashes pairs ocean sounds with seafood eats,
including barbecue octopus and sea bass crudo. Pastry chef/mixologist Ryan
Vellila rotates drinks and desserts with the season, with a lineup that
includes vanilla and green tea crème brulee and a caramelized white chocolate
“Kit Kat” with banana sorbet. All 154 guestrooms face the Pacific for
sleep-on-the-beach sounds sans the sand. (www.surfandsandresort.com)