Nestled inside the legendary La Casa del Camino Hotel, this local favorite offers elegant California Coastal cuisine and a nice selection of beverages to go with it. The restaurant's phenomenal proximity to the beach and bistro's sophisticated, chef-driven fare makes it irresistible to the locals and out- of - towners alike. We decided to entrust the venue with our Valentine's Day extravaganza so we arrived quite early around 5 o'clock and we were seated right away. The first thing we noticed is the interior that reflects the Spanish style charm that is casual, sophisticated but at the same time very low key. No glitter or sparkle! It's fairly small interior that feels airy during the day thanks to the large windows, but transforms into a lovely, romantic hangout at night, lit mainly by dimmed wall lights overhead. Its vintage dark brown tables are covered with simple menu paper and have matching chairs. The room is lively and inviting especially during evening, and the food is inventive and fun. Although we didn't seat outside on the balcony, I wouldn't mind going there again just to sip my ice cold beverage while I observe the Laguna locals and their pups (LOTS OF PUPPIES!) walking around. After we had been seated we realized that our table was a little bit far from the window (and we know how much THE WINDOW is important for any blogger or photographer) so we asked to be moved closer if possible, unfortunately, we were told that it can not be done, which is completely OKEY. However, just an hour later another couple showed up and requested the same thing, consequentially they were moved. It is unclear to me why we were not offered the same courtesy as the couple that came after us or at least why the lady who so boldly proclaimed that it is against the rules didn't at least apologize as we were still sitting there looking at her in awe. Never the less our night continued with a rotating menu of hand-crafted cocktails, a carefully-curated champagne list, and exciting appetizers and entree dishes! With small plates and an emphasis on sharing, K'ya Bistro Bar offers a diverse menu with flavors from the Mediterranean.
The Valentine's Day menu with culinary influences from the Mediterranean, Latin American and French cuisine got us very excited and we were really happy to see that the special attention is also paid to fresh local produce. The menu focused on Chef Craig Connole's own creations and clean fresh flavors. K'ya's Filet Mignon with mash potatoes, spinach, caramelized onions and blue cheese is the reason enough to visit! Named as Best Chef in Orange County in March 2010, Chef Craig Connole is hailed for his creative approach to cuisine. Born and raised in Newport Beach, Chef Craig started his career at the infamous Gina's Pizza in Corona del Mar in the 1980s. After making his name around southern California with flavorful stints at the Four Seasons, Meriden, and the Ritz Carlton Kapalua and spent some time in the modern day restaurant Mecca—Las Vegas, he returned to his roots when the owners of La Casa del Camino lured him back to Laguna with an invitation to reinvent the restaurant at their hotel. As I was born and raised close to the Mediterranean shore I must admit that I was excited to savor some of the things on the menu. Besides the File Mignon, we also ordered Bacon -Wrapped Shrimp with honey -sriracha sauce and Foie Gras Torchon with black truffle honey as appetizers. Both dishes tasted familiar yet novel and paired with the right type of wine it really did excite our pallets for more. Next came small plates where I opted for the previously mentioned Filet Mignon and my husband went for Chopped Lobster Salad with tarragon dressing. For me, the Filet was the highlight of my day. A perfectly medium-rare piece of meat with semi glaze and burst of flavor left me wanting more! My husband, on the other hand, wasn't too thrilled with his salad due to the fact that it wasn't mixed properly before hand which he released once he almost finished it and was left with a ball full of dressing on the bottom! Service could have shined here and did it for him at the table or give him a warning beforehand if the dish was meant to be mixed by the patron himself. The food comes relatively fast but not at the same time. My dish was getting cold on the table because I waited for my partner's dish to arrive so we can eat our Valentines dinner together. Again, I believe it is up to the service to inquire with their customers about the preference and that is what really distinguishes a first class restaurant from the rest. We had a hard time choosing main dishes, frankly because all on the menu looked super attractive. After consulting with our waiter, I decided to order Blackened Scallops & Truffle Risotto with wine, parmesan, asparagus, tomato and lobster cream sauce. This dish is extremely well executed, rich in flavor and plentiful. As a European we don't pack our food once we are done, however, I couldn't leave anything behind when it comes to Chef Graig's risotto. My husband went for Flat Iron Steak, probably because it came with a side of four cheese macaroni and asparagus. Dessert trio was just what you can hope for at the end of the day and we finished our meal on the high note satisfied and full.
Reservations at this vibrant beach-side bistro are essential so do call in advance to secure your table:
1287 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, California, Phone: 855-990-0281