Chef Craig Strong is making big moves this fall, opening his first free-standing restaurant after nine years as executive chef of Studio at Montage Laguna Beach. “I’ve always dreamed about owning my own restaurant, and this opportunity came up that I couldn’t pass up,” he reveals. Ocean at Main, set to open in October at 222 Ocean Ave. in Laguna Beach, is a passion project for Strong, who says now is the “perfect time to establish roots” after 10 years in Laguna Beach. “Laguna Beach has a unique charm,” he notes. “It’s a community that looks after its own.”
Showcasing his commitment to community, Strong will continue partnering with local purveyors to source buzzworthy lunch and dinner menus. Expect tartine-style sandwiches for lunch (think tuna tartare on local artisan bread with avocado relish, shaved radishes and garden herbs) and heartier dishes like halibut brandade with squash blossom tempura and romesco for dinner. A seasonal craft cocktail menu is also in the works, and a California-centric wine list will round out the beverage offerings. The 4,500-square-foot space, which Strong says offers “the right mix of outdoor and indoor seating,” will get a tranquil refresh and an infusion of ocean blue, sea foam and sea glass shades courtesy of Laguna-based Tuvalu Home.
“After all my years working for luxury resorts around the globe, I’m looking forward to living my dream,” Strong says. “Our location is easy to get to, just off of Main Beach; our dishes feature the freshest ingredients; and we have comfortable seating and design.” Yes, a recipe for success is surely on the horizon.