At enoSTEAK, located in the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, guests can sink their teeth into mouthwatering steak that they can feel good about. The steak comes from California-based Niman Ranch, which raises grass-fed, pasture-raised beef with no growth hormones or antibiotics. Not only is this a more healthy option, but it's also kinder to the animals and the planet. In addition, the produce used for the menu is organic, grown locally and harvested at the peak of the season from a local farm, allowing for maximum flavor and a low carbon footprint. Some of the herbs are even picked fresh from the on-site organic garden. “We are fortunate to be in a rich growing region and are thrilled to be able to support our local farmers and offer sustainability-focused cuisine,” said Bruce Brainerd, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
Each meal starts of with a complimentary liver pate served wtih multigrain ciabatta bread. The pate is served on a custom platter made from recycled wine bottles created by Laguna Beach artist Sandra Jones Campbell. The platter is available for purchase ($20) with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a local non-profit called SEEDS Arts & Education, Inc. that provides children's programs that focus on environmental stewardship, health and wellness, the arts, and family and community building.
For dinner, guests are given the choice of filtered tap water, bottled water or sparkling water. The menu, which changes twice a year, consists of appetizers with a focus on Field (salads), Water (fish), and Farm (meat) with items such as the Smoked and Cured Meat and Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Board served with conrnichons, radishes, and crostini ($14).
The main entrees consist of handcrafted meats and seafood with a variety of steaks to choose from, such as Grilled Prime Bone In New York Steak, Grilled Prime Rib Eye Steak, or Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin. To enhance the flavor, the steak is served with signature compound butters in flavors that include black summer truffle, roasted heirloom tomato, garden herb and garlic, tarragon bearnaise sauce, or the 30i enoSTEAK butter with a hint of curry and cumin. For guests that are vegetarian, although there are not any meat-free items listed on the menu, the chef can typically accommodate dietary restrictions without sacrificing flavor or quality.
Entrees are served a la carte, but there are a number of delectable side dishes ($9) to choose from, such as the sautéed wild mushrooms and petite peas (that includes 14 types of mushrooms), the tri-color cauliflower with romanesco brown butter sage, or the fiscalini and black truffle mac and cheese.
Desserts are fresh and change every two weeks. Some past desserts have been Raspberry Sorbet with Panacotta or Banana Beignets with Nutella Sauce ($13).
The restaurant, which opened in May 2012, gets its name from "oenology," the study of wine. enoSTEAK is a very fitting description since not only do they serve fine steak, but also a large variety of fine wines. There are nearly 40 varieties on the dinner menu, but guests can request the master list that has nearly 200 wines to choose from. The impressive decorative glass "wine tower," that serves as a centerpiece for the restaurant, holds approximately 300 bottles of wine. This is a restaurant that caters to the wine connoisseur.
Executive Chef Pedro Contreras oversees the menu at enoSTEAK, as well as the other on-property restaurants. “With the Pacific Ocean in my backyard and access to fresh produce year round, I am excited to share a diverse and personal culinary experience with our guests,” said Chef Contreras. “I look forward to contributing to the resort’s amazing culinary legacy and I am excited to share my passion for the many cooking-styles I have enjoyed over the years,” added Contreras. Chef Contreras, originally from Venezuela, has more than ten years of experience working for several Ritz-Carlton properties, as well as other resorts, and has a passion for American cuisine.
At enoSTEAK, with good food comes good service. The wait staff is personable, attentive and knowledgeable. Each waiter has an assistant to make sure the needs of the customers are met with proficiency. Water glasses are filled, dishes are cleared, and questions are answered in a timely manner. The waitstaff knows the menu in detail and can anticipate customers' questions so that an answer is readily available. From menu items, to wine, to the artwork, the waiters seem to take pride in knowing what the customers' wants and needs are and being able to meet them.
The ambiance is reminiscent of a gentlemen's ilbrary with comfortable leather chairs, a warm glowing fireplace, dark wood walls and subdued lighting. It's more like dining in someone's swan home rather than at a resort. It is inviting and relaxed.
So, whether you're looking for a place to celebrate a special night out, indulge in some fine food and wine, or treat a business client, enoSTEAK provides excellence all around.
Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
One Ritz-Carlton Dr.
Dana Point, CA 92629