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The Review: Chef Craig Strong takes three stars with Studio at Montage Laguna Beach

September 16, 2009 |  3:11 pm


As friends and I approach Studio, the restaurant at Montage Laguna Beach set on the edge of a bluff, I can see chef Craig Strong silhouetted against a silvery mauve sky as he talks to a table of guests on the outdoor terrace. Palm trees in front are ablaze with the setting sun, and in the grass behind him, a trio of bunny rabbits plays and nibbles. We're seated outside too, the better to enjoy the sea air and the unobstructed view of the coastline. What a spot!

After eight years as chef at the Dining Room at the former Ritz-Carlton Huntington in Pasadena (now the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa), Strong is in an enviable position as the new executive chef at Studio, replacing opening chef James Boyce. He's entirely comfortable cooking in a hotel system, having worked for Ritz-Carlton for much of his career in Atlanta and Barcelona before Pasadena. And this is a plum assignment.

No other restaurant in Southern California has this mesmerizing view, and this happy combination of setting, great food, polished service and deep wine list makes Studio at Montage one of the region's true destination restaurants.

For the rest of S. Irene Virbila's review, click here.

Photo: Sauteed Hudson Valley Farms Duck Breast at Studio restaurant at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times