2794 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Way too many things have been postponed from March til now. At first, I was pretty excited to be staying home. You might think that since we eat out so often that I love being out amongst the people and staying out until all hours. I like it in doses, and of course, I love to try restaurants, but I find myself just wanting to head home to relax, watch tv, and get a jump on heading to dreamland after a big meal. Yes, I suppose I'm getting old.
As with many during this pandemic, I had my birthday recently, just as the restrictions on restaurants were being lifted. We waited a week until Katie was a little more comfortable eating at a restaurant in a confined space. Even though we have both been working away from home during these crazy times, we, for the most part, have stayed in only going to get takeout or drive through somewhere. We only recently have made a few trips to see family and friends, with social distancing protocols of course.
Part of the reason I picked Dizz's As Is for my birthday dinner on this early Sunday evening was because of the safety measures that I knew they were following. Masks had to be worn to enter the restaurant and when you were walking about the space. Servers would be wearing masks and gloves, and they were spacing tables six feet apart. In the dining room we sat in, they easily could have squeezed in another four tables. The extra space felt wonderful, as being sat on top of people is one of my biggest pet peeves in restaurants.
Dizz's has been around since 1977 and has been run by the Pitz family all of that time, making this the longest-running establishment with the same ownership in all of Laguna. The unusual name of this restaurant was coined when Owner and Founder Marcel Pitz bought the place alongside busy Pacific Coast Highway from a couple that could best be described as dizzy from all the self-prescribed happy pills they had taken over the years. The as-is portion of the name was added when the Pitz family grew an affection for the mismatched dishes that were left behind by the couple.
The menu seems to go along with the old fashioned vibe of the place. The food here could best be described as classic European, with stalwarts like escargot, stroganoff, and cornish game hen offered. Options that you don't seem to find at many places these days. Appetizers run between $6 to $15, ala carte options for the lighter eaters among us go for $20 on average, and entrees range between $24 to $46 for their surf and turf option. Both Katie and I zeroed in on what we were going to be having on our return to dine-in service. Let's see how it all turned out for us.
Right after we were seated we were given this complimentary Duck Pate and a shot of Vermouth. I guess this is their version of chips and salsa. A very nice touch. The vermouth was to be used as a palette cleanser. The pate was very earthy and had a tinge of smokiness to it. It spread with a little effort on the provided butter bread. This was fine, but I'm not the type to order pate on a regular basis, but I did enjoy the opportunity to have it gratis.
None of the appetizers really were in Katie's wheelhouse, except for the Garlic Bread ($6). The quartet of sliced bread was topped with garlic butter and parmesan cheese. This was fine but did not blow me away. There was very little garlic on here and a little more cheese would have been appreciated.
Both of our entrees came with either a soup or salad. I went with my usual Caesar Salad to start. This was a fair version. The dressing had a definite anchovy undertone which I liked, but the salad could have benefitted from a little more of it added. It was nice to have a salad that did not come out of a bag, like the ones I've had during our quarantine time. The fresh greens made a big difference. I don't recall what the soup of the day was, but Katie tried their French Onion Soup (a $5 upcharge) instead. This soup had a rich onion flavor to it. There was just a little bit of cheese topping this. I admit to missing the thick layer of Gruyere that blankets most versions I have had. Katie ended up liking this version a lot because it was lighter than most.
Katie was captivated by the Chicken Du Jour, which just happened to be Chicken Cordon Bleu ($25) this evening. This chicken breast was butterflied and filled with cheese and prosciutto, then served with a brown sauce covering it. Again, this was not as heavy as the fried versions I have had. The chicken was remarkably tender, but the bite I got from Katie only had chicken. Selfish. She was a pretty big fan of this plate.
I've been let down quite a few times when I 've ordered veal out recently, but this Veal Marsala ($32) helped restore my faith in veal a bit. The veal was incredibly tender and came with plenty of mushrooms and a sauce made up of marsala wine and a touch of cream. The parmesan was a nice surprise and went well with the veal. Both the vegetables and rice were just okay on their own but made better when I used them as a vehicle to sop up the extra marsala sauce.
The seven-item dessert menu was intriguing, but we went with our standard Creme Brulee ($9) as our grand finale this evening. Topped with some raspberries, the crystalized sugar crust was easily one of the most sturdy we have encountered. After a couple of taps of the spoon, it gave way to a custard base that was creamy but lacked the sweetness I was looking for. It was fine, but we should have gone with the chocolate rum mousse or the Belgian chocolate sundae. Next time.
Dizz's As-Is had a few highlights for us on this visit. Both our entrees were well executed, but the rest of the meal was on the average side. It was nice getting back out and doing some normal things for a change. The menu here, like the decor, seems a little dated, which I do not mean in a bad way. We need places like this to help us remember where we came from culinarily, and to help us realize that kale and quinoa are not essential ingredients. Even with the reduced numbers in the dining room, service was a little sporadic on this evening. Our server was MIA for some stretches of our meal, and the people that were nearest to us had not even gotten their food by the time we left, and they were here before us. Glad we could make it out for a birthday dinner.
Out of five binoculars, (because David Bushnell, who founded an optics company that brought binoculars to the average person at a reasonable price, made his home in Laguna Beach), five being best to zero being worst, Dizz's As Is gets 3 binoculars.
For more information about Dizz's As Is, head to their website here: https://dizzsasis.com/