Coastal Casual

Elevating simplicity in both cuisine and décor make for a mighty “oak” in Laguna Beach

 

Written by Susan Irby

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Second-story ocean views and light coastal breezes are a refreshing welcome from the bustle of Pacific Coast Highway at oak in Laguna Beach. The first restaurant from Laguna locals RoseMary Polenski, Jeff Liao and John Porrello, oak features a polished modern feel with a touch of sass. Helming the kitchen is well-loved Executive Chef Chris Tzorin, also a local, who says of his approach, “I just cook from the heart.” Anyone who has ever met chef Tzorin knows this is true. Mentored by his father, a well-respected chef formerly of 21 Oceanfront and The Ritz-Carlton, chef Tzorin began cooking at the age of 13, soared to executive chef status by age 20 and has made multiple appearances on the Food Network. “I learned American French cuisine from my dad,” he says.  “Now, I layer my dishes with family influences and diverse culinary travels.” In opening oak, chef Tzorin and sous chef, Fabian Sanchez, perfected dishes for weeks at Tzorin’s home. “The restaurant was under construction; we tested recipes in my living room until we perfected the ones we loved,” recalls chef Tzorin. “We set a goal to Floss—to keep the cuisine fresh, local, organic, sustainable, and seasonal whenever possible.” Must-haves are the Local Albacore Stack with soy, siracha, honey, and lime with mango tahin; the oak Burger of wagyu beef, jack cheese, tomato and onion; Pork Belly Tacos with Asian pickled cabbage and lime crema; and, off the menu, the Octopus Frittata, marinated bliss perfectly prepared in open-face omelet style. Dessert selections, meanwhile, derive inspiration from Tzorin’s 8-year old son, with the Oreo Cookie Crème Brulee and the Doughnuts ‘n Ice Cream quickly becoming classics. 

oak 1100 S Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 ~ 949 940 3010 | Oak-LagunaBeach.com

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Photos courtesy of Janel Conlan of Focus Photography Inc.