Anybody who’s spent much time in Manhattan Beach (as we did during the last decade) knows that the Manhattan Beach Rock’n Fish is the “in” place for 20-somethings looking to meet up with other 20-somethings for food, drinks, and very loud conversation. During the five or so years we lived in neighboring Hermosa Beach, we never saw the place when it wasn’t packed full of young people having a good time. We stopped in a few times and, to tell you the truth, we never really figured out what the draw was.
So when we heard that Rock’n Fish was coming to Laguna Beach, we didn’t get too excited. And when we learned it would be upstairs over the classy new Tommy Bahamas store/restaurant/lounge complex, we were a bit confused and concerned.
Here comes the “but”….but, after visiting Laguna’s new Rock’n Fish on two separate occasions—once on a quiet weeknight, and once on a busy Friday night—we quickly came to see that “this” Rock’n Fish and “that” Rock’n Fish are about a similar as Hennessey’s and French 75. Laguna’s Rock’n Fish has a cool and classy well-stocked bar that has just enough separation from the restaurant to make you feel like you can have fun with friends and not worry about bothering the couple having a romantic dinner. In the restaurant, there are nooks and crannies for those romantic couples, and large comfy booths for families, and even a peekaboo ocean view or two out the windows. The menu is large and varied, with lists of appetizers, salads, oak-grilled steaks and seafood, and a wide variety of specialty items that Rock’n Fish is known for. We tried a little of this and that, and it was all fresh and well-prepared. The managers and service people we met were friendly and attentive. Our only complaint was that they have James Bond martinis on the bar menu but don’t really have the right ingredients or know how to make them – a minor faux-pas that probably only we would care about.
So, bottom line, Laguna’s Rock’n Fish has a lot less “rock” than its Manhattan Beach counterpart. What it does have is a classy look, a wide-ranging menu, a “space” for everyone, and excellent food and service. And now is the time to give it a try, because it hasn’t really been “discovered” yet. Families can go early on a weeknight and pick their spot. Couples can come later and snuggle up with a glass of great wine in a corner banquette. The party crowd can arrive mid-evening on the weekends and take over the bar area for a fun night out. For Laguna Beach’s diverse population of locals and tourists, the new Rock’n Fish has, quite literally, something for everyone. So the next time you're staying at Casa Laguna Inn & Spa, ask us to make your reservation for Rock'n Fish. We'll see if we can convince them to give you an ocean view table.
It’s tough to review a cupcake parlor when you don’t like sweets, so I recruited a few members of the staff to help out with the taste-test part of my review. They were not reluctant. My husband likes chocolate, but hates cupcakes in general. This probably goes back to his childhood when some cute little blonde girl smashed a cupcake in his face – but I digress. We picked Valentine’s Day for our visit—duh. Not only the busiest day of the year for cupcake parlors, but it also just happened to be Casey’s Cupcake's grand opening in Laguna Beach. Miracle of miracles, the huge line that had been out the door all day shrank down to an eager half-dozen shortly after we arrived and we popped in to the pink parlor and grabbed a six pack of Casey’s signature favorites, including Decadent Dark Chocolate, Excellent Espresso, Vivacious Vanilla, Luscious Lemon, Sassy Strawberry, and, of course, Rockin’ Red Velvet.
My husband, a foodie who’ll try almost anything, decided to put aside his cupcake trepidation for the sake of an honest taste test. He had previously tried cupcakes by that really famous cupcake maker--you know, the one who almost always has lines out the door even when it’s not Valentine’s Day or a grand opening--and he said that, if he liked cupcakes, Casey’s Decadent Dark Chocolate would be about the best he ever had; and, Casey’s are certainly more moist and less overly-sweet than similar cupcakes by those other guys. Then he couldn’t resist saying that, after seeing Casey Reinhardt in her hot-pink mini-dress he was quite sure she was the best cupcake in the place. I reminded him that his slang is about as outdated as he is, and that Casey is young enough to be his granddaughter. For those of you who don’t already know, Casey Reinhardt is best known for her role in the 2005 season of Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, and is the daughter of Kelly Roberts, co-owner of the Mission Inn in Riverside. (Keep reading to find out Casa Laguna’s connection.)
The remainder of our cupcake six-pack was divided up among five Casa Laguna staff members, and the decision was unanimous—Casey’s cupcakes have a smooth texture and great taste, but lack the overbearing sweetness and often artificial aftertaste of a certain competitor’s product.
So, bottom line, Laguna Beach now has a great new cupcake shop, run by a gorgeous former member of the Real Orange County cast, that should draw equally on locals, tourists, and anyone who loves sweet treats and the color pink. Oh, and by the way, Casey’s place also sells a number of products that are not part of the cupcake world, including her trademark “Kiss by Casey” lip gloss. Want to see Casey in action? She’ll be baking up a pink storm in the upcoming Cupcake Wars: Walk of Fame on February 22 on the Food Network.
And what’s the Casa Laguna connection (other than our young cupcake-loving staff)? Casey’s mom and step-dad own the Mission Inn, which was built by Frank Miller, who also built Laguna’s Rockledge Estate, of which the Casa Laguna property was a part, until parcels east of Pacific Coast Boulevard (later PCH) were sold off in the late 1920s. Whew. Ok, it’s a tenuous link to Laguna Beach’s hot new cupcake dispensary, but we’ll take what we can get. The address for Casey’s Cupcakes is 303 Broadway, Suite 108, Laguna Beach—but the shop “fronts” on Ocean Avenue and is much closer to Broadway Plaza’s south entrance.
As part of our continuing “go green” efforts, Casa Laguna has partnered with famed purveyor of fine English toiletries Gilchrist & Soames to help us strike a balance between making eco-friendly decisions like conserving water and energy and reducing waste, while still maintaining the highest quality of service and providing the best possible guest experience. Gilchrist & Soames products can be found in famous luxury hotels and resorts worldwide. The company has made a promise to pursue eco-friendly practices in all aspects of product creation, from ingredients and packaging to sourcing and manufacture.
Casa Laguna showers now have pump dispensers containing products form the Gilchrist & Soames London Collection®, which contain no parabens, phthalates, petrol-derived ingredients, mineral oil, urea, DEA, TEA or propylene glycol. They do contain food-grade, naturally derived USP glycerin, natural conditioning agents from honey and the brassica plant; and soybean and cottonseed oil, instead of petrochemicals. Gilchrist & Soames is also committed to cruelty-free development and vow to never test their products on animals. Gilchrist & Soames soap and lotion dispensers are also found next to all our bathroom sinks. The application of these refillable pump dispensers greatly reduces our carbon footprint by eliminating packaging waste and leftover product.
There is one area, however, where we feel a packaged product is necessary to assure the best guest experience, and that is in bath bars for rooms with jetted tubs. Again, Gilchrist & Soames helps us keep our footprint small by wrapping the bars in eco-friendly recyclable materials.
Now we just need to make a choice on which bath bar our guests will enjoy the most—and we’re asking you to help us make that decision. Choice number one (1) is the 2.5oz Saddle Exfoliating Vitamin E bar, with an anti-oxidant rich formulation that is pleasing to use. This bar (the white one in the picture) is perfect for an allover body exfoliator, but gentle enough to use on delicate facial skin. Choice number two (2) is the 1.5oz Saddle Glycerin bar; a translucent gold glycerin soap that gently cleanses as it moisturizes your skin. The difference in size is due to the higher cost of producing glycerin soap, and the fact that, by its nature, the softer exfoliating bar has a tendency to be used up more quickly. The fragrances are almost identical. To vote, simply leave a comment for this blog page, or go to our facebook page and vote by leaving a comment under the header “Help Us Choose.” Only one vote per person please.
We always welcome guest feedback on our green efforts, as well as your suggestions regarding products or methods that might help us with our eco-friendly efforts.