As California gears up for the July 1 statewide ban on raising, selling, or serving foie gras, Stonehill Tavern in the St. Regis Monarch Beach is facing the inevitable with a philosophical, c’est la guerre attitude—a special tasting menu where every course includes the traditional, if controversial, luxury ingredient. See the $159 menu here; available through the end of June.
The short-term foie gras menu joins something else new—executive chef Craig Polignano recently added an eight-course tasting menu dependant on the seasons, not the state legislature ($148; wine pairing additional with either tasting menu). Michael Mina signature dishes like ahi tuna tartare and lobster pot pie remain, though, and of course everything benefits from being served in the cushy, comfortable Stonehill space.
At a recent preview, I sampled a new for-the-table starter, a tasting of seasonal shellfish ($29 per person) that includes Southern California abalone and spot prawns, plus Dungeness crab, giant clam, and Kumamoto oysters from the Pacific Northwest, all artfully arranged among stones gathered from the beach just outside. The Stonehill bar has a nice way with proprietary cocktails—a Violet Turning Violet ($14), with blueberry vodka, yellow chartreuse, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, and muddled blueberries is brisk and delicious, with the perfume of the fruit rather than any cloying quality.
St. Regis Resort, 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, 949-234-3318, michaelmina.net