The Ranch at Laguna Beach announces the opening of Harvest Restaurant, completing a stunning makeover of the former Aliso Creek Inn & Golf Course, better known and still referred to as Ben Brown’s.
Set on 87 acres nestled amidst the wooded hills of Aliso and Wood Canyons, The Ranch at Laguna Beach is home to Laguna’s only golf course and offers guests serenity and a 5-star experience amidst the often overlooked scenic beauty of the canyons while being a leisurely 7-minute walk to the beach at Aliso Creek and a short drive to the picturesque arts community of Laguna Beach.
Since 1950, the 9-hole par 32 Ben Brown’s golf course and country club provides golfers with an ultra-private playing experience complete with stunning views and elevation changes on every fairway. An off-the-beaten-path location with not a house in sight means a quiet playing experience that offers a rare chance to connect fully in nature on a course with speedy greens and a commitment to proper tee box and hole placement. This is not your stuffy country club experience—you’re in Southern California now! Relax under a tree and revel in the natural beauty surrounding you, enjoy one of the inspired craft cocktails at Harvest or take it outside for more outdoor fun with a game of bocce or cornhole.
Last week The Ranch, LB celebrated the grand opening of Harvest Restaurant with a lovely reception for friends, family, media, and Laguna Beach movers and shakers. Harvest marries the bounty of the season with the atmosphere and creativity of Laguna Beach. As an homage to the original homesteaders, fresh-made food and drink with an intense emphasis on local sourcing is the focus at Harvest – what is not grown on the property is thoughtfully sourced.
Led by Executive Chef Charles Imbelli, the Harvest team shares their creative take on American-Californian comfort food. The menu changes with each season, integrating fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables grown and gathered on the property’s half-acre Harvest Garden. A sampling of current menu items range from starters of fresh Hamachi crudo and shrimp cocktail to entrees of Skuna Bay salmon and grilled Hangar steak.
Framed by the stunning canyon backdrop, Harvest’s Skuna Bay Salmon is expertly seared, enhanced with creamy red pepper tzatziki and a tangle of lightly dressed wild rocket (arugula), a housemade dill pickle provides a pop of acid to balance the richness, and marcona almonds impart a pleasant crunch that completes this beautifully balanced dish (taste portion pictured above).
Other tastes from the sea included Hamachi crudo – pickled pears, Fresno chiles, yuzu, shiso; Shrimp cocktail – avocado mousse, curried almonds; and Oysters with lemon mignonette.
Wine and signature cocktails cocktails were flowing and an abundance of hors d’oeuvres delivered with a smile by well-trained butlers throughout the evening. Special thanks to Lauren who offered us first look to accommodate social media photo ops.
The Smoked Gouda Gougeres are addictive!
The libations are every bit as fresh and enticing as the fare and, fortunately, several of us joined together to attack the list responsibly – it is, after all, de rigueur as a cocktail enthusiast and writer to share a broad experience with you.
Drawn to its name, Harvest Moon, and incorporating a few of my favorite ingredients: Hendricks gin, lime juice, St. Germaine, cucumber, rosemary and a splash of tonic; my first choice was refreshing, not too sweet and perfectly complemented the seafood bites I was savoring at the moment.
Other outstanding cocktails include (clockwise from L to R): Cottage No. 5 – Templeton Rye, Luxardo syrup, Angostura bitters, topped with Avery White Rascal; Treehouse – Botran Aged Rum, Apple liqueur, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice; Forest Ave – Casa Amigos Blanco, lemon juice, apple juice, splash of ginger beer.
Befitting Harvest’s seasonal focus, the handcrafted cocktails anticipate the seasons and feature specialty releases of aged cocktails that coincide with holidays and special events. Local craft brews run the gamut from pale ales and lagers to hefty stouts. Flight tasters are encouraged to help you find your favorite among the 18 handles on tap. For wine aficionados, award-winning Sommelier Jess Rodriquez has hand-selected a wine list of renowned varietals.
I highly encourage you to place Harvest at the top of your Must-Try restaurant list, and if a staycation is in your future, treat yourself to a much-needed respite from the urban jungle at The Ranch, Laguna Beach. I hope to visit again soon and be able to share more about the guest room interiors by Tuvulu Home Designs, Sycamore Spa and the unique indoor and outdoor experiences at The Ranch, LB, so circle back in a few weeks for more info!
The Ranch, Laguna Beach
31106 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Reservations: 949-499-2271 or visit the website at www.theranchlb.com