Acclaimed chef to open upscale seafood restaurant in Dana Point

DANA POINT, Calif. — Chef John Tesar, a four-time James Beard-nominated chef and two-time Bravo’s “Top Chef” nominee, will open his new seafood restaurant, Outer Reef, on April 29 in Dana Point.

The opening of the restaurant, at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, has been delayed since 2020 due to the fallout from COVID.

Known for its “Knife” steakhouse concept in Texas, Tesar now focuses on sophisticated Outer Reef offerings that feature fresh produce from California and West Coast seafood from Baja to Alaska.

“I think our guests will be pleasantly surprised by the unique perspective we put on the classically prepared recipes,” Tesar said. “All the fish are native to this ocean, so in that sense they will be familiar, but we’ve done it differently with scrupulous attention to detail.”

the outer reef The menu is inspired by the “mostly raw”, “barely touched” and “lightly cooked” food preparation philosophy, according to Tesar, who also operated the former Spoon Bar & Kitchen, a popular seafood restaurant. in Dallas.

Selections from the mostly raw dishes include:

  • Razor Clam Tartar: pickled golden Greek peppers, Ligurian olive oil, Passmore trout roe;
  • San Diego Uni: black pudding, cucumber and spring onion emulsion;
  • Pounded dry-aged tuna: terrine of duck liver, crispy baguette, chives, fleur de sel.

Barely touched dishes:

  • King Crab “Scampi”;
  • Half Roasted Lobster à la Shanghai;
  • Live Diver scallop: shallot brown butter, wild mushroom dashi, black truffle shavings.

And among the lightly cooked options:

  • Baked Hawaiian swordfish: Jerusalem artichoke puree, expressions of spring peas
  • Milanese-style black cod: leaf and flower salad, toybox tomatoes, fried capers, lemon, brown butter;
  • Kimchi-glazed Pacific halibut: steamed savoy cabbage, Korean vegetable pancake, crispy pork belly;
  • Passmore sturgeon: papas bravas, gribiche sauce, fried quail egg;
  • Whole grilled lobster: tarragon garlic butter, breadcrumbs.

Outer Reef will also serve caviar, shellfish, pastas, salads and select meats from 44 Farms’ dry-aged steak program, launched by Tesar, author of the cookbook “Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals At Home.”

Hailing from New York, Tesar gained a somewhat temperamental reputation in kitchens during his early years, but was dubbed “the most talented cook I’ve ever worked with” by celebrity chef and world traveler, the late Anthony Bourdain. In Bourdain’s bestselling memoir “Kitchen Confidential” and in “Medium Raw,” Tesar is introduced as “Jimmy Sears.”

Tesar’s new venture, Outer Reef, will offer dinner to start, with breakfast and lunch coming later, and a separate menu available in the bar and lounge. With an “elegant but casual” dress code, the restaurant will be open Thursday through Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. with reservations through OpenTable.

Outer Reef is located at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, 25135 Park Lantern, Dana Point.

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