Inspiration in Huntington Beach
Lazy Dog Cafe
16310 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, California 92647

A brand new concept in Huntington Beach has been open a few weeks and is offering global cuisine on an ambitious scale at prices that on the surface seem insanely in favor of the customer. Lazy Dog has already been doing over 300 lunches and 400 dinners a night. When I took an end of evening tour of the kitchen, just two weeks after opening, it looked like it had been invaded by Napoleon's Household Cavalry. Lazy Dog Cafe Logo No wonder chef and part owner Gabriel Caliendo is excited by the project, in spite of the many things can go wrong in the early days. The chain has ambitious plans however, hoping to open several more restaurants in the not too distant future - and I'm confident they will.

Gabriel is no slouch, having spent several weeks in France watching Michelin chefs and arriving from a former stint as sous chef at the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point. His menu is inspired by culinary tastes primarily from USA, Italy, South America, China and France. The menu is extensive and ambitious, with unusual dishes to be found like American campfire pot roast, an inside out quesadilla, homemade meatloaf on a bed of spinach, Portobello and goat cheese pizza, quintessential pad Thai, and the Hawaiian standout, Ahi Poke. This version is slightly milder and less extravagant than its island counterpart.

If you are into wafer thin Pizza, then the signature Keri's Portobello Pizza is a must at $8.95, coming with marinated Portobello, roasted veggies, caramelized onion and goat cheese. Also absolutely delicious, are the Hawaiian Sticky Ribs which are slow cooked in a sweet barbecue glaze with Asian sesame coleslaw, with just the right trace of ginger. We were just able to skim the surface of all the goodies in the store at the Lazy Dog, but chef Gabriel deserves applause for providing semi-gourmet food to the masses at prices that must be downright heartbreaking to his competitors.

Lazy Dog Cafe Vista This vast 260-seat restaurant has an additional bonus - excellent cocktails and specialty drinks at very reasonable prices, by today's standards, of about $5.95. One such example would be the Naughty Maggie, a blend of Sauza Tequila infused with pineapple, strawberry and jalapeno. A couple of other interesting ones are the Aqua Dog, which is Malibu Rum, Midori, Blue Curacao, Sweet and Sour and Sprite, and the Otter Pup which substitutes Vodka and Wilderberry Schnapps for the rum and midori. The beer selection is also strong, including Newcastle Brown Ale and my tip, the Lazy Dog Hefeweizen lager.

The service at the Lazy Dog is competent enough, despite the fact that the majority of the waiting staff fall into the student category. Given the time they have to get organized for the NBA and NHL seasons, Lazy Dog will take on a whole new perspective - a sports bar with top notch food to match.

Lazy Dog Cafe Map

Mike Hepworth, August 2003

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Tel: 714 500 1140

Sunday - Thursday 11:00 to 23:00
Friday - Saturday 11:00 to midnight

Price: Dinner for two with wine $35
Dress: Very Casual
Ample parking.
Reservations: Not required

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