Thursday, September 21, 2017

Here's a Reunion You Won't Want to Miss

Reunion Kitchen ad Drink
610 North Coast Highway #102
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Yes, we had just been to this exact same shopping center recently to visit Asada. The Boat Canyon Shopping Center won the restaurant lottery when Mexican favorite, Asada, and one of our favorite spots from Anaheim Hills opened in this Pavillions anchored shopping plaza right around this time last year. For those of you that are not sure where the Boat Canyon Shopping Center is, it's in North Laguna, just a couple of blocks away from Downtown Laguna. There's plenty of parking, a much more relaxed feel, and now a great restaurant to visit.

If you happen to follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know my love for Reunion, and now we don't have to tackle the freeway traffic on the 55 to make it to Anaheim Hills. Since I introduced my parents to the Reunion up by their house, there has not been a family birthday, anniversary, or any other family celebration that they have had anywhere else other than Reunion. So, I was pretty stoked to get an invite to visit their Laguna outpost.

When I walked in this former Umami Burger spot, it felt like home. They recreated the vibe of the Anaheim Hills venue, but on a smaller scale. Exposed wooden beams, dangling light fixtures, and a picturesque wine display are highlights of this slightly more relaxed and laid back beach vibe restaurant. Even though it's situated in this often forgotten about shopping center, the restaurant filled up during our stay and remained that way until our last bite.

The reason for the crowd on a recent Wednesday evening is, of course, the food. You can thank the man behind this restaurant, Scott McIntosh, for that. Scott worked for years at Claim Jumper Restaurants, as well as at other spots around OC. It's his time at CJ that I feel is his inspiration for the American comfort food that is served here. The cuisine reminds me of a time before Claim Jumper was bought out by a large restaurant company that cared more about making money than serving delicious food. The portions at Reunion are not going to rival the king-sized plates that used to exist at CJ, but that just means that the quality will not dwindle like Scott's former employer. Speaking of the food, let's see what came out for us on this evening.

When coming to Reunion, I always have to start things off with their Loaded Potato Skins ($7.25). Not only because these skins are fried perfectly so the edges provide a nice crunch, while the center of the potato is light and fluffy, but they serve these wedges of tater with a sour cream chive dip that is exactly like the one they used to serve at Claim Jumper. It has just the right consistency to it, so it's not too thick, but not too watery. It goes well with the cheddar, bacon and, green onion topping the potatoes. Wonderfully done, and a must try when visiting here.

For the most part, Katie and I are pretty much alike. One aspect of our life where I think we will never agree on is veggie burgers. Predictably, you can probably guess that I'm not really a fan, while Katie likes to try them in almost every restaurant that we eat at. She gave this House Made Veggie Burger ($13.50) a try. I'm not really clear what the patty was made up of, but it came topped with avocado, Swiss cheese, tomato, crispy onion strings, and a smear of garlic aioli all sandwiched between a whole wheat bun. Katie really enjoyed this burger. She liked how all the parts of this worked so well with each other. I admit I tried this burger, but I don't think I'm quite ready to turn into a veggie burger lover anytime soon.

On a menu that just screams comfort food, this Rosemary's Chicken and Biscuits ($17.95) might be the most comforting and popular item at Reunion. I looked around all the nearby tables where we were seated and this dish was on nearly all of them. Two boneless chicken cutlets are pounded thin, hand battered, and fried, then served with a mound of mashed potatoes and sausage gravy, and one of the better biscuits that you will ever have. The chicken was fork tender and made even better after being dredged through the flavorful gravy. I made quick work of this plate, alternating between forkfuls of the chicken and the Yukon gold mashed potatoes. I saved the biscuit for last. It was slightly dense, and buttery on its own, but of course, I added the extra butter as well. Wouldn't want it to go to waste.

Speaking of butter, if you come to Reunion and don't get this Butter Cake ($8.95) you are really doing yourself a real disservice. There's a lot on the dessert menu that I would love to try, but I always find myself getting the butter cake here. It's right up there with some of the better ones I have had, and it comes with a very generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream, and a splash of raspberry puree streaked across the plate. For people that have never had a butter cake, I always describe it as a Twinkie on steroids, and this one definitely qualifies as that. A great end to our meal.

I was so happy that this Laguna Beach Reunion was just as good as the original up in Anaheim Hills. It's going to be way more convenient for us, and we will get the chance to share our love for this restaurant with some of Katie's family that does not like to travel more than ten miles from their homes. The food was just as good, and there were not the big wait times like when we have visited the Anaheim one without a reservation. Along with the chicken that I had on this evening, I can also recommend the Meatloaf, Prime Rib, and the Cafe Patty Melt as favorites of mine. Our server Alexa was amazing, and her great dedication to detail was appreciated. Thanks to everyone at Reunion Kitchen and Drink for this excellent opportunity to try this location. Everything was awesome, and we look forward to making many more return trips to the Boat Canyon Shopping Center in the very near future.

For more information about Reunion Kitchen and Drink, head to their website here:

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