448 S. Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Katie's Mom has been talking about Watermarc for sometime now. She recently went with her niece, and told us that we had to give it a try. We were headed out of town, and wanted to see Katie's parents before we left, so we made plans to meet up there on a recent Thursday night.
Watermarc is run by chef/owner Marc Cohen. Cohen is the man behind successful places, 230 Forest Avenue and Opah Restaurant. The vibe at Watermarc is simple and sleek. A little uppity, but not in too arrogant of a way. Customers are made to feel comfortable, but they are also aware that they are eating at a nice restaurant. On their website, they define their restaurant as, "a dining experience at its greatest height". Let's see if this a true definition, or should they go back to the dictionary.
At Watermarc they have a very diverse, "Grazing Plates", menu. Over twenty-five different small plates to choose from, all in the $6 to $12 range. There were four of us, so we each got to choose one small plate. This was my choice, the Clams Casino. Littleneck clams and herb crumbs, topped with a slice of bacon. I personally would have liked a little less breading on this, but Katie was trying this and was not too sure about clams. She felt that this was salty, but since this was her first encounter with clams, she felt it was a good learning experience.
Here was Dennis's choice for a small plate, the House Flatbread. This flatbread combined Cipolini onions, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, garlic and fontina cheese. I am not much of an olive guy, but they did not get in the way of this flatbread. The taste of this was spot on, maybe a touch greasy, but that could have added to the flavor. Not a bad flatbread, and good size for the $7 price tag.
The Warm Blue Cheese Pear Tarts, served with red wine syrup, was the unusual choice for Katie. Blue cheese and fruits have been paired on a lot of menus that I have seen lately, (I had blue cheese ice cream paired with an apple tart at Haven Gastropub recently). Anyways, back to this item, I liked the pairing here. The blue cheese did not overpower the dish like you would expect. The pear was sweet, and the tart was moist. Katie felt that this was the best appetizer of the night.
Lynn went the salad route for her choice of a grazing plate. The Farmed Greens featured dried cranberries, goat cheese, almonds and sherry vinaigrette. She felt that this all melded together well, and the sherry vinaigrette put this salad over the top. I only had a few bites of this, and was pleasantly pleased with this salad.
Now on to the main entrees. Pictured above is the Smoked Paprika Day Boat Scallops and Shrimp, served over saffron orange couscous and apricot butter. I liked this dish, and thought that the citrus theme here with the orange couscous and apricot butter went well with the seafood. Katie felt this plate was, "to die for." I will not go that far, but it was a very satisfying plate.
This pleasant looking dish was the choice of Lynn, the Filet Mignon, served Oscar style, (steak served with lump crab, asparagus, and Bearnaise sauce over it. Very rich, and one of my favorite ways to eat steak. I liked this, but did not love it. The steak was very tender, but the crab and the Bearnaise sauce was a bit off for me. The crab was more of a crab cake than actual crab meat. Lynn, a real fan of Watermarc, called this steak, "delicious and flavorful, and one of the most tender steaks she has had."
The burgers at Watermarc are a blend of Angus chuck, sirloin, and short rib. Dennis added Gorgonzola cheese to this burger. I did not get a chance to try this burger, but Dennis said it was, "very good, I liked the bun, but the fries were just average".
Now we get to my meal, the Roasted Chilean Sea Bass. This was wrapped in bacon, and served with lentils. Everything is good wrapped in bacon right? Yes, this was no exception. Sea bass can sometimes be greasy, but this was not. Very flavorful, and the bacon did not overpower the fish, and the fish did not overpower the bacon. They worked together like Milli and Vanilli, okay maybe that is not a good example, but you get what I mean. Also, this was a good sized hunk of fish. I was not too keen on the lentils though. They were very dry, and added little to this plate.
Now on to dessert, here we have the Carrot Cake. I love carrot cake, but this did not satisfy my carrot cake hunger. The cake was dry, and not very flavorful. I did enjoy the presentation with this though. and the ice cream, when mixed with the cake, helped cure the dryness of the cake.
As disappointed as we were in the carrot cake, we were surprised in the White Chocolate Macadamia Bread Pudding. I am not too much of a bread pudding fan, but this was moist and served with pineapple ice cream. This was the big winner of all the desserts that we tried.
One of the things Watermarc has going for it is its menu. It has a little bit of everything, and depending on what you are in the mood for, you will find it here. The service was good, but not over-bearing. The value was what you would expect for beach dining in Laguna. Entrees range between $20 to $40.
One other thing this place has going for it is, chef Marc Cohen. I liked the playfulness of his plates. They were presented well, and the different themes with each plate, showed how he can make each plate his own. It really shows that he takes great pride in his craft.
Out of five postage stamps, (because they used to have watermarks on them), five being best to zero being worst, Watermarc gets 3.5 postage stamps.
For more information on Watermarc, click here: http://watermarcrestaurant.com/