Fancy Lunch Box at Sapphire Laguna in "Pottery Shack" Laguna Beach

Sapphire Laguna, 1200 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA, (949) 715-9888.

Leave it to world-traveling chef / owner Azmin Ghahreman to open a gourmet restaurant along Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, and serve a Lunch Box. The former executive chef of the five Diamond St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa down the road a few miles south in Dana Point has many tricks up his sleeves. He has prepared food for over 30 dignitaries & presidents in various positions he's held around the famous kitchens of the world, but he also happens to know the beach crowd-and what they like to sample.

Lunch Box, similar to a Japanese Bento Box meal, includes five special treats, though you never know what they will be. Usually there is at least one salad or some type of greens, there's a main dish (maybe something featured on the evening menu), a specialty bread, perhaps some fresh cut, hand-made potato chips, or whatever the chef chooses to feature that day. The concept has been so popular that while many items have come & gone, the Lunch Box has lived on for around three years since the restaurant launched in 2007.

What you need to know about this ordinary sounding entree is that when you dine on cuisine from a chef who has worked in kitchens and studied cooking in France, Switzerland and countries around the globe, anything you eat is going to exceed expectations. Each menu item is carefully chosen with much thought going into the recipe, ingredients and spices. Though the menu seems simple, the food is quite complex and compelling. If you try it once, your taste buds will be hooked.


Be sure to save room for dessert. Another item that has been so popular, it has remained on the menu is the White Peach Melba Crème Brulee Raspberry Sorbet.

Sapphire Laguna is located on Coast Highway in the heart of Laguna Beach's dining and shopping district in the former Pottery Shack building. Just look for a huge statue of the Greeter (there are two in town - but this one is painted and is bigger than life.)

Lunch menu entrees range around $10-20. The adjoining Sapphire Pantry is a casual cafe where sandwiches and fresh coffee beverages are made. The Pantry features approx. 100 artesian cheeses from around the world, and many great gifts such as basket pressed Provencal violet-grape jelly. You can buy sandwiches in the Pantry and take out, or eat them in the cafe.

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