Sunday, June 30, 2013

Finding Anything But Common Food at 370 Common

Three Seventy Common Kitchen + Drink
370 Glenneyre St. 
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

It must be difficult for Katie to pick where to take me for my birthday. She knows that I am pretty picky when it comes to restaurants. Not that I would be totally upset with her if we went to a bad place, or even a mediocre one. I try to view it as just part of the journey of this restaurant blog. This year Katie just asked to see our restaurant wish list. She picked one off of the list, made reservations, and then we were off, with me being more clueless than usual. I had it narrowed down to two places when we arrived in Laguna, and I was very excited when we arrived at 370 Common.

370 Common is on almost every OC foodies wish list of places to eat. It has been on my list since I read an article about it in Orange Coast magazine. That was more than a year ago when that article piqued my interest, and 370 Common has been open for two years this September. If you remember where Sorrento Grille was, 370 Common now occupies that same space. In fact, Chef Ryan Adams used to be the Executive Chef at Sorrento, but after that restaurant group faced money problems, Chef Adams jumped in and bought the place. I never went to Sorrento Grille, but from what I have been able to gather in other reviews, the restaurant has not changed too much.

We got to 370 Common at about 5:30 on a Sunday night. Unknown to Katie, Sundays at 370 Common are called, "Sunday Social Dinners", where they do away with their regular menu, and have one set menu for the evening. From what our waiter told us, they rotate the protein type, but the one mainstay per month is the fried chicken dinner, which has almost achieved cult status at this point. We missed out on that, but we decided the menu that was offered on this particular Sunday night was definitely worth staying for, so we grabbed a seat in the open and airy dining room. When we sat down they were not particularly busy, but as our meal progressed, the tables filled up around us. Our waiter came over and took our drink orders, and since it was a set menu, there was no ordering to do. The cost of this Sunday Social dinner was $30 per person, and does not include drinks, tax, or gratuity. Not a bad price for a three course meal with side items. The parade of food gradually made its way to our table. This is how it came out.

Before we get to the Sunday Social part of the meal, when we sat down we were presented with this bread plate. Pretty standard fair here. The bread had a good chew to it, the butter was soft, and the three pieces of this disappeared very quickly. I'm not sure what it is, but every time a bread basket is placed in front of us at a restaurant, we act like we have just crossed the desert, and this is the first food we have eaten in weeks. It could be that we don't have bread baskets when we eat at home, so maybe it's just the novelty of it.

The Sunday Social menu is all served family style, so Katie and I had plenty of salad to split between the two of us. Starting things off was this Marinated Vegetable Salad. When this first hit the table I was a little skeptical that I would enjoy this salad, but I was wrong. I generally enjoy creamy dressings, such as ranch or blue cheese, but this herb vinaigrette was delicious. The produce used in this salad, along with all the vegetables used during this dinner, were hand picked by the chef at local farmer's markets. You could definitely taste the freshness. This salad contained mixed greens, red and yellow peppers, pearl onions, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, and croutons. My favorite parts of this very well made salad were the grilled pearl onions and the croutons, which really grew on me as I consumed this salad. A very strong start to our Sunday dinner.

Okay, so I guess that I did lie to you when I said that there was no other options for the Sunday dinners, because they do offer a vegetarian option, which is what Katie went with. The vegetarian option the night we were here was a Vegetable Pappardelle Pasta. This had a plethora of veggies included in this; watermelon radishes, pearl onions, mushrooms, peas, and others that I did not catch. The sauce was a wonderfully made pesto. Katie really enjoyed this dish, with the house made pasta, the flavorful pesto, and the fresh vegetables. She made very quick work of this meal, which was a larger serving size than it appears in these pictures.

Unlike Katie, I was very excited for the meat portion of the Sunday dinner, which just happened to be this glorious Pork Chop in a spicy wash. Quite simply, this is the best pork chop I have had to date. The pork was tender, and the flavor was fantastic. My only minor complaint is that there could have been more sauce served with this, but I tend to like a heavy hand when it comes to sauces. The chop was moist enough without an excess of sauce though. The bones were picked clean after I got done with this pork chop. This was served on a bed of Garlic Herbed Mashed Potatoes that had a great texture, very smooth, and the flavor was good, even without a lot of detectable garlic flavor. Very well made mashed potato. This plate really had my head spinning, as I fell in love with it. I felt like a 14 year old kid getting the chance to sit next to his high school crush in class. Yes, it was that good.

Even though there was no way that the side dishes could compete with that pork chop, they were still pretty good. As my Mom could tell you, I am not a big fan of green beans, but the Green Beans here are not like the ones that she would serve us out of the can. These were fresh, and topped with crispy shallots, chile, and lemon. Good enough to make me change my mind about green beans, at least ones that are not from a can. The other side dish was Bacon Roasted Summer Squash. The squash was grilled perfectly, with just the right combination of pepper and smokiness from the bacon. This was the clear winner in my opinion of the two side items. Even with just the two of us, we had no problem finishing the squash.

Again, I was a little apprehensive when we were given our dessert at the end of this meal. I am probably one of the few people you know that does not enjoy fresh berries, but this Berry Pound Cake really surprised me. The berries and pound cake were joined on the plate by mascarpone and vanilla bean ice cream. The best part of this for me was the pound cake and the ice cream. The pound cake was a much better option than that spongy shortcake that most places use. This had a great sweetness to it, and did not get soggy even with the toppings. The mascarpone was not as sweet as whipped cream, which helped to balance out this dessert a bit. Another winner.

If you just looked at the pictures of this review, and did not read what I wrote, I can sum 370 Common up in one word, "great". I'm not saying this Sunday Social menu is for everyone though. Some people like to make their own choices when they are in a restaurant, so those people should come to 370 Common on any night but Sunday. It is kind of scary being at the whim of the chef, but this Sunday dinner really proves that you can not go wrong with Chef Adams. Even though there were some things on this menu that I am not too fond of, he presented them in a way that made me like them, which is the goal of any great chef. I really thought this Sunday dinner was a great value. $30 per person for all of this food, and we even had some leftovers to take home for lunch the next day. The service was very good on the night we were here, our waiter, and everyone else we came in contact with really talked this restaurant up quite a bit. It's awesome to see so many people proud of where they work. We look forward to coming back again and trying their regular menu, but we will not hesitate to come back on a Sunday either. Good choice for my birthday dinner Katie. Job well done.

Out of five lemons, (no, not because I am sour about getting older, but because one of the sister cities for Laguna Beach is Menton, France, home of a Lemon Festival held every February), five being best to zero being worst, 370 Common gets 4 lemons.

For more information about 370 Common, click here:

(370) Three Seventy Common: Kitchen + Drink on Urbanspoon

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