When the heat turns up, we usually head down towards the water to eat. While eats by the beach are aplenty, two local restaurants recently cranked out their sophomore efforts, giving us more excuses to drive down PCH. We head to Laguna later on in this post. . . but for now, let's start in Huntington.
Beau Soleil Kitchen is from the group that opened Cafe Beau Soleil in Fashion Island. While they may sound similar enough in name, these concepts go in different directions. For starters, there's a swanky bar as you enter their location inside Pacific City's Lot 579. The dining space in general is spread out between a more casual lounge and cheerful dining room. Everything displayed on the shelves, down to the woven chairs you're seated in can be taken home for the right price.
Our favorites on the menu included their squash ravioli, French onion soup and banana crepe. In fact, everything we ordered was good. What we couldn't quite wrap our heads around was whether it was a quick service or full-service dining room. It must depend on how busy they are, since there's a menu board with register in one corner. However, while we dined we also noticed a group being seated and handed menus.
The other notable difference between here and Fashion Island was that they used bamboo utensils and plates. It has to do with their location inside a food hall (The American Dream being the exception, as they are only full-service and use silverware.). It seemed unusual to be seated at the most upscale tenant in 579, yet not have actual dishware. Their website makes an effort to explain their stance. 21058 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, (714) 969-2328; www.beausoleilhb.com.
Heading South, we spent one Sunday sipping afternoon tea in downtown Laguna Beach. Harmony Tea Bar originates in Mission Viejo within a much larger, but definitely darker spot. As you can see from our two photos, the oversized window facing Forest Avenue made all the difference in this modest space. Served between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily, this $35 service can also be shared for an additional $5 charge. The upcharge is for one more pot of tea, so you can at least have one thing all to yourself.
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Our meal began with blueberries swirled in a matcha whipped cream. This starter gave us enough time to browse the tea selections (Which we didn't know included both sides of the tea menu, so be sure to flip that sheet over!). We say the more exotic, the better. Next was a savory spread of sandwiches. The curried chicken was definitely our favorite, but egg salad, cucumber cream cheese and sundried tomato caprese kept our taste buds amused.
Their assorted scones and pastries were the highlight of our tea. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, the great thing is being able to take it home for later. Now we don't recommend taking the savory items with you, as those are much more perishable; maybe just the scone and macaron for a late snack. And be sure to savor that tea! 305 Forest Ave, Ste 103, Laguna Beach, (949) 353-5005; www.harmonyteabar.com.