There’s a little bit of pressure on at the restaurants within the eternal five star St. Regis Monarch Beach. The entire resort revitalized and upped its already considerable game recently, meaning the dining venues had to keep pace.
After a more than $30 million renovation, the St. Regis Monarch Beach is in position to stay right where it’s always been — around the top of the Southern California resort rankings. The crown jewel of its dining experiences is the Stonehill Tavern. Commanded by Chef Michael Mina, the intimate setting keeps the American gourmet menu centered on fresh, nationally sourced meat and seafood with a predominance of light, precisely prepared flavors.
Stonehill Tavern enjoys prime real estate on the resort’s property. It overlooks the St. Regis Monarch’s Beach entire stretch of private beach and the first couple holes on Monarch Beach Golf Links. While the bar welcomes those looking for happy hour, the ample dining room uses as much of the ambient Pacific sun as possible to lights tables. Come evening, the crew turns the lights down low.
If diners time their visit right, the Stonehill provides perfect viewing of a Pacific sunset over the breadth of Catalina Island 26 miles away.
While the table gets early nibbles of fried kale chips and crab cakes topped with caviar, a Kale Caesar or Trofie Pasta make satisfying starters.
The stars of any evening are the savory entrées. The Painted Hills Filet Mignon is always a strong choice (with langres cheese, zucchini-mint puree ronde de nice, rocket, figs and a beaujolais sauce). The most entertaining and original entrant has to be Michael’s Lobster Pot Pie (with seasonal baby vegetables, fines herbes and brandied lobster cream). Be sure to check the market price for the pot pie. (There’s words you don’t see every day.)
Come the arrival of dessert, portion sizes are responsible and the selections both elite and whimsical. The challenging Dark Chocolate Soufflé arrives perfectly prepared, while the more playful Root Beer Float slides in with a little anise flavor while using real Sassafras. There are also artisanal cheeses for dessert. However, as I’m fond of saying, you really don’t want to dine with anyone who seriously considers cheese a proper dessert.
With the St. Regis Monarch Beach’s renovation all but complete and elite guests once again visiting its valet attended doors, all signs say the Stonehill Tavern stands ready to match its home with a five star dining experience.