Broadway By Amar Santana - Interrupt

>> Sunday, January 29, 2012

Date of Dining: 1/28/2012
Price: $10-17 per appetizer, $30-38 per entree
Location: 328 Glenneyre St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

The Quick Bit: 
+ Great selection of cocktails including Moscow Mule on tap
+ Desserts were extremely satisfying to finish off the meal
+ Amazing menu made it difficult to decide what items to order
Δ Spacing of the tables could have been more generous
Δ Some dishes could have used more balance
Note: I debated on writing two Interrupts in a row, but decided that the coverage was fine. The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy blogging and there will be a lot of San Diego coverage. Prepare for some amazing posts leading into the gastrobits 1 year anniversary
 Since I grew up in Orange County and visit regularly, I have a passing interest in the culinary scene there. I was steered towards checking out Broadway by Amar Santana by fellow bloggers Gourmand's Review and Bobby Navarro of 100eats100days.
Broadway by Amar Sanatana is the brainchild of Chef Amar Santana. Santana was educated at the CIA and worked for Charlie Palmer at the restaurant aureole, where he worked up the ranks. He opened fin fish for the organization before becoming the executive chef at Charlie Palmer in Bloomingdale's at South Coast Plaza. Finally, Santana started his own venture in Laguna Beach at Broadway by Amar Santana. Chef Santana's food can be characterized as farm to table and modernist cuisine.
When looking at the menu of Broadway, it was hard to decide on what items to order as so many of them seemed to be attractive. I finally decided that it was impossible to order everything I wanted and just tried to get a good sampling in the first visit, vowing to return at another date. We ordered a few appetizers and entrees and then asked the wait staff to course everything out separately. It was refreshing to see that this was no problem and the food began arriving in short order.

First Course:
frisee and arugula salad - goat cheese, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, champagne vinaigrette, pairs
Unfortunately this dish lacked some balance. While it had all the elements of being an exciting dish with the sweet, crunch, sour, savory, bitter, and creamy, the dish fell short of the mark when these elements failed to integrate properly. Perhaps part of the issue was we found that some parts of the salad were dressed more heavily than others.

Second Course:
japanese hamachi - cirtus-miso dressing, avocado sorbet, wasabi tampiko, tempura flakes
This dish was the first great dish and preview of the night to come. The hamachi was extremely high quality and full of delectable oils; it was cut by the spice and acidity of the tampiko as well as the crunch of the wasabi flakes. The avocado sorbet added an element of cold freshness and the citrus-miso balanced the dish on acidity and umami.

Third Course:
roasted bone marrow - short rib marmalade, marinated anchovies, parsley  crumbs
The bone marrow was roasted extremely well and epitomized a well-prepare bone marrow plate. While there was nothing jaw-dropping about the marrow, the perfect execution of this dish is often lacking in other forms of the dish. I especially appreciated the sea salt dish provided to self-season the marrow. The short rib marmalade and anchovies were really required components of the dish as the marrow alone was a little too fatty and somewhat overwhelming to the tastes. Overall a solid dish.

Fourth Course:
seared maine sea scallops - sea urchin risotto, tempura sea beans, passionfruit, jalapeno froth
The freshness and quality of the sea scallops really stood out in this dish. The risotto was well-prepared and really complemented the sweetness of the scallops. The jalapeno froth added just a touch of spice, and the passionfruit added a bit of tangy sweetness and acid to round out the dish. The passionfruit was a real key component of the dish.

Fifth Course:
mushroom dusted veal sweetbreads - parsnip, potato, truffle jus, wilted lettuce
The key to this dish was the sweetbreads themselves; they were cooked perfectly on their own and really only needed a dip in the truffle jus to provide the full flavorful preparation. While I did appreciate the other elements of the dish, they weren't necessary as the sweetbreads stood on their own.

Sixth Course:
berkshire pork chop - braised pork cheeks, saffron glazed pear, salsify, black garlic jus
This dish was a real winner as the pork chop was cooked perfectly. The black garlic just was a great savory sauce for the pork while the pear served as a nice element of sweetness that complemented the pork. The pork cheek was the best part of the dish and stood on its own. I kinda wish there was a way to just get a lot of braised pork cheeks alone.

Seventh Course:
bourbon vanilla bean panna cotta - strawberry sorbet, cocoa nib meringue, tarragon
This was the best dish of the night for me. The panna cotta was phenomenal; it was prepared in a thin layer across the entire dish and had the perfect balance of flavor and texture. The strawberry sorbet was extremely flavorful, and the cocoa nib meringue were both visually striking as well as provided a satisfying textural crunch.

Eighth Course:
hazelnut praline tart - burn banana cream, passionfruit, bergamont ice cream
The tart was prepared perfectly and had a great balance of sweet praline chocolate to crust. While the other elements were nice to have, I found that they tended to cover out the elegance of the tart alone. Instead of mixing all the components, this dish seemed to be best enjoyed by eating the tart independent of the other elements. I thought the inclusion of the charred cinnamon stick for aroma was a nice touch.

While there were some unbalanced elements to the dishes, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Broadway by Amar Santana. The menu was packed full of interesting food combinations, and each item tried to incorporate a nice balance of flavors and textures. Additionally, the restaurant boasted a large selection of cocktails, which enhanced the dinner experience.
For the great preparation and execution of the food, Broadway by Amar Sanatana gets the megabyte award.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
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