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Summer House is too good for its generic name. If you saw it listed among all the other places you could eat in Corona del Mar, you'd dismiss it in favor of the jazzier sounding joints, like say, Gulfstream or Bandera. But you'd be wrong to write it off. The first meal I had at Summer House impressed me so much I wondered why our crack team of food writers hasn't written about the place or nominated it for our Best Of Issue already.
Summer House, for all intents, is a neighborhood joint. Locals make up a majority of the crowd. The restaurant, which is more like a diner, takes no reservations. And when you look at the food, you see that the kitchen staff wastes no time in making any of the dishes look frou frou. Expect packaged crackers and grated yellow cheese on top of the homemade turkey chili, which is so hearty and fills you full of homespun wholesomeness it forces a reevaluation of what you previously regarded as good chili, especially if it involved a can opener and the word Hormel.
But the best dish of all is the ginger-crusted ono. The fish, pristinely white and still creamy, is baked until the top of it crusts over like a just-torched creme brûlée. It's served with an orange-flavored beurre blanc over steamed rice—a simple, unexpected, undiscovered gem, just like the restaurant that serves it.
Summer House, 2744 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, (949) 612-7700; www.summerhousecdm.com