An in-your-face ocean view, sea spray, and crashing waves are the main reasons Splashes Restaurant at Laguna Beach’s Surf & Sand resort earns raves. Just try to find a review that doesn’t mention the seascape.
And the food? It’s passable, not terrific. After several months with no replacement for departed chef Jeff Armstrong, executive chef David Fuñe fills the post. Hailing from Temecula Creek Inn, a sister property of operator JC Resorts, his modicum of new and seasonal dishes is the most noticeable culinary shift.
Juicy, fresh oysters remain a strong suit, and easily outshine more au courant starters including tuna tartare dominated by capers, and a pretty citrus-fennel salad that’s too scanty for one. Order the blue Hawaiian spot prawns and hope they’re not overcooked—sending them back is problematic if your aloof waiter isn’t supportive. King salmon in dashi is both satisfactory and innocuous, as in difficult to recall the next day without notes.
Amid a wash of seafood options, the luscious lamb sirloin is the surprise-hit entree. The dish’s temperature should be hotter, but in fairness, foods quickly cool in the ocean breezes. All around, jovial, linen-clad devotees of the resort circuit toss back $15 cocktails while the disengaged staff awaits a 20 percent gratuity. Seems the view is delicious, even if you’re not particularly fond of eating.
Best New Dishes
Fresh oysters, citrus-fennel salad, lamb loin sirloin, chevre cheesecake.
Splashes Bar is a solid bet for snacks and drinks with a killer view.
$6 with validation—it’s a great deal when Coast Highway is jammed.
1555 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, 949-376-2779, surfandsandresort.com
Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi
This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue.