I’ve been to Spain, and yet the best seafood paella I ever had was at Watermarc Restaurant, Laguna Beach, thanks to Executive Chef/Owner Mark Cohen.
Located on the famous Pacific Coast Highway in heart of Laguna Beach, California, Watermarc is a classy bistro that offers grazing plates and more than 30 wines by the glass.
Watermarc blends elements of older, classic foods and beverages, with contemporary cutting edge cuisines and drinks.
Upstairs you will find outdoor seating overlooking a brick-paved alleyway with lanterns hanging on tree branches making a perfect spot for a romantic date night. I would return to Watermarc, Laguna Beach, just for the best seafood paella!
Cocktails + Complimentary Starter
Blackberry Bramble (left-left): Gin mixed in with lemon, soda charred rosemary and muddled blackberries. This drink was quite strong for me and didn’t offer much sweetness. This drink would be suited for someone who enjoys gin and doesn’t require some sweetness.
Blueberry Coconut Mojito (left-right): Coconut Rum, mint, lime, soda and fresh blueberries. A refreshing, light, and minty drink. Crisp and wonderful. A favorite.
Bread & Cranberry Gorgonzola Cheese: The bread and Cranberry Gorgonzola cheese combo slightly pungent and so creamy. Absolute perfection! A favorite.
Gnocchi (top): Roman style gnocchi cooked in a gorgonzola cream sauce. This dish was simply out of this world and one of the best gnocchi dishes I’ve had to date. Top the soft and pillow-y gnocchi off with some fried rosemary leaves which offsets some of the creaminess and adds some earthy flavors to this dish. Wonderful dish. A favorite.
Beet Root Tartare (bottom): Whipped Goat Cheese and beets served with rosemary scone biscuits. The creamy beet goat cheese along with the salty capers paired well together. The biscuits were sweet and flaky. Delicious appetizer and a must-do. A favorite.
Marc-Ette Greens: Salad topped with dried cherries, apple, goat cheese, sunflower seeds, and sherry vinaigrette. Overall, a good standard salad.
Chilean Sea Bass: A grilled sea bass sitting over a bed of caponata and served with a side of baked artichoke. Although the sea bass was perfectly cooked, it wasn’t seasoned well enough and lacked flavor. The caponata and baked artichoke were a nice complement to the sea bass though.
Seafood Paella: 1/2 Maine lobster mussels, shrimp, calamari, and linguica. The seafood paella at Watermarc was hands down the best paella dish I have ever had, and I’ve been to Spain which is saying a lot. This dish was drowning in seafood flavor with pieces of spicy sausage adding an ocean of flavor to this impeccable dish. The paella arrived piping hot and my favorite seafood in this dish were the shrimp and calamari. A favorite.
Roasted Cauliflower: A herb crusted cauliflower was just okay for me, it was rather bland for me.
Desserts & Dessert Martini
”3” Amigos (top): Cinnamon Churros served with Vanilla Custard and Mexican Hot Chocolate. The churros were good, however a little crispy on the outside. Having said that the churros paired well with the liquid hot chocolate… yum. The vanilla custard which had a hint of orange in it was excellent. This was my favorite dessert of the two.
Strawberry Shortcake Jar (bottom-left): Strawberry Shortcake in a mason jar mixed in with cake, macerated strawberries, and fresh whipped cream. A unique presentation with spun cotton candy hanging from a straw. The shortcake was good, but I prefer the more traditional kind of strawberry shortcake with more cake topped with whipped cream and berries.
Warm Sea Salted Caramel Steamed Martini (bottom-right): A warm dessert martini prepared with Tuaca Liqueur, butterscotch, caramel, fleur de sel, and steamed milk. The martini was delicious, but on the rich side. This dessert martini would appeal to someone who enjoys a good dessert cocktail. Very well made.
Coffee: Good. Loved the cup design.
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Watermarc Restaurant
CUISINE: New American/Tapas
FAVORITES: Complimentary Bread & Cranberry Gorgonzola Cheese | Blueberry Coconut Mojito | Gnocchi | Beet Root Tartare | Seafood Paella
VERDICT: 4.25 / 5
Watermarc Restaurant is the perfect place to dine when you simply want some good wine and tapas. I actually preferred the smaller plates more than the larger plates, with the exception of the seafood paella. Speaking of, the seafood paella was exceptionally good that I believe it will make my list of the Best Thing I Ate in 2017. I enjoyed some great food with wine pairings, but the one wine that stands out the most is the …. Rose. What stood out was the food was well prepared and not overly oily. I left the restaurant feeling satisfied and not bloated. I look forward to dining at Watermarc again to try the White Chocolate Macadamia Bread Pudding, Blistered Shishito Peppers, Sizzling Garlic Shrimp, and Risotto. Located in beautiful Laguna Beach on Pacific Coast Highway, this is one restaurant I will keep coming back to. It’s the perfect place for romance and conversation. Highly recommended.
Food: Very Good | Drinks: Very Good | Décor: Trendy/Modern | Service: Helpful |Value: Fair
Where did you have the BEST paella? Have you been to Laguna Beach, California?