Craig Strong is the latest chef to downsize from fine dining. Don’t get me wrong. The longtime chef of STUDIO at Montage Laguna Beach has hardly turned his back on premium ingredients or flair, but he’s delivering them in a more approachable manner at Ocean At Main, his first solo restaurant in downtown Laguna Beach.
I enjoyed lunch on a sunny patio with a striking mural-lined fountain in Laguna Federal Savings and Loan’s former home. Strong’s tasting menu days may be over, but dishes still showed exacting attention to detail. Dungeness Crab Cavatelli ($16) may be the bargain of the menu. Strong tops toothsome house-made ridged pasta with sweet tufts of crab meat and lends balancing brightness by adding tangy preserved lemon, sweetly acidic sun gold tomatoes, and fines herbs.