Home » Restaurant Review » Review of Watermarc in Laguna Beach – Making Good First Impressions
Review of Watermarc in Laguna Beach – Making Good First Impressions
Watermarc Laguna Beach Paella other side

Review of Watermarc in Laguna Beach – Making Good First Impressions

Review of WaterMarc in Laguna Beach

Watermarc is more than a Modern American restaurant, it is a Culinary Art Studio

Perhaps one of the better meals I have enjoyed in Laguna Beach in quite some time. Watermarc’s presentation was artwork and the taste was equally impressive.

I recently visited Watermarc on a double date with my wife and another couple. Part of my goal that evening was to review Watermarc; my second goal of my night was to do a review of my friend’s new beau. More on this relationship intrigue later in the post. At first blush, Watermarc’s menu sounds run of the mill, with the ubiquitous short rib, chicken, steak, fish of the day. I admit that I went into Watermarc with a bad attitude and full of preconceived notions. By the time I left Watermarc, I was very giddy with excitement by the food and service.

Watermarc  is located  Restaureant is  Laguna Beach on PCH

Watermarc is located in Laguna Beach on PCH

Watermarc is owned by Chef and Owner Marc Cohen, who is known for his other restaurants Opah and 230 Forest. Watermarc is located at located in the heart of Laguna, just next door to Nick’s and Tommy Bahama. The food is modern American, although Chef Cohen brings a strong flare of artistry into his food, by turning each dish into a piece of culinary art.

Watermarc Laguna Beach Interior

Watermarc Laguna Beach Interior

What we ordered at Watermarc

Fried Goat Cheese

I have eaten fried goat cheese way too many times because my wife is obsessed with this dish. Although I grudgingly agreed to the goat cheese balls, I was pleasantly surprised by the preparation. The standard fried goat cheese dish is a baseball sized portion of crusted and fried goat cheese. Watermarc’s preparation is artful and served bite sized portion with minced apples and honey. 

Watermarc's Fried Goat Cheese Balls

Watermarc’s Fried Goat Cheese Balls are served bite sized

Each spoonful should be consumed in one glorious bite. The texture is crispy on the tongue and then oozes with warm and creamy goat cheese. The apples and honey keep the dish light and playful. ($9)

Watermarc Laguna Beach Fried Goat Cheese Balls Cut Open

Watermarc’s Fried Goat Cheese Ball split open. The goat cheese comes out hot and creamy

Seafood Paella

I don’t say this lightly, but this is one of the better paella preparations that I have tasted and seen. The paella is FULLY loaded with high-end seafood and flavor. Watermarc’s paella is most similar to Paella Alicantina, a Spanish coastal Paella loaded with shellfish. Watermarc’s paella is made with half a Main lobster, shrimp, New Zealand green mussels, calamari (rings and tentacles), and a Portugese sausage called Linguica. The rice is extremely flavorful and speckled with fresh peas.

The Paella is perhaps some of the best I have experienced.

The Paella is perhaps some of the best I have experienced.

The only things that could be considered an issue by some paella aficionados is that that there is more seafood than rice, a “no no” among Paella purists. The paella also does not have a “soccorat”, the sticky crusty rice on the bottom on the pan. With this said, I would tell the paella purist and wannabees to shove it. I think Watermarc’s preparation is a perfect adaption, soccorat or not. This dish is a must try if you remotely like paella or lobster.($34)

Watermarc Laguna Beach Paella other side

Watermarc Laguna Beach Paella other side

Chicken “Cordon Bleu”

The name “cordon bleu” is in name only and with that said, this dish is a delicious reinvention of the original. The similarity to “vordon bleu” is the usage of chicken, ham, cheese, although the comparison to the classic dish ends there. The dish uses half of a Jidori free range chicken. The drum and thigh are prepared in a crispy confit and the breast appears to be pan seared in a very buttery pan. The result is pure magic. The brie and the smoked ham slices are served in compliment to the chicken.  The “cordon bleu” is served atop shaved asparagus and topped with a rich Mornay sauce. The result was a complicated layering of flavors and textures, tied in a bow with an equally beautiful platting. ($24)

The chicken cordon bleau at Watermarc is a very modern and delicious interpretation.

The chicken cordon bleu at Watermarc is a very modern and delicious interpretation.

Blackened “1855” New York Strip Steak

This dish was highly recommended by our waiter, Kevin. When I asked him which item on the menu he would eat as his “death row” meal, he insisted that we go with the blackened 1855 New York Strip. My tablemate ordered the strip steak and he said that it was cooked a perfect medium-rare, juicy, and flavorful. I took a peek and it was an impressive steak that was choc full of juices. Judging by his O faces, I really think he liked it.  The steak is topped with bacon-gorgonzola butter and served with a pototato pancake. ($30)


New York Strip Steak with bacon Gorgonzola sauce.

New York Strip Steak with bacon Gorgonzola sauce.



Ordering dessert was high drama at our table.  My wife insisted on the bread pudding and our waiter seconded her preferences. Although I saw an item on the menu called the “The Lunch Box” and my imagination was set afire by visions of receiving dessert in an 80’s style metal lunch box. My wife remained stubborn on her bread pudding choice and I was about to order my own dessert, when our friends new boyfriend, ordered the Lunch Box. Obviously he is a man of good tastes; I liked him already.

The Lunch Box

The lunch box is a throwback to childhood memories of bringing a GI Joe aluminum lunch box to school and getting excited when your mom left a surprise dessert in your box. The dish includes three house made ding dongs and with a carton of milk. The ding dongs are a very upscale version from the ones you at as a kid, with almost a ganache shell over  cream filled chocolate cake. This ding dong is uber better than anything Hostess ever made. For nostalgia reasons, this is a must order dessert.

The Lunch Box Dessert is served in an actual 80's style aluminum lunch box

The Lunch Box Dessert is served in an actual 80’s style aluminum lunch box


I could not help myself from starring longfully at my tablemate’s Ding Dong. He took pity on me and gave me half of his last ding dong, just like a soldier sharing his last bullet with a comrade from same hometown. After this gesture I gave my friend the thumbs up, this guy is a keeper.

Watermarc's Lunch Box is served with three house made ding dongs and a box of milk

Watermarc’s Lunch Box is served with three house made ding dongs and a box of milk


The White Chocolate Macadamia Bread  Pudding

The white chocolate macadamia bread pudding was delicious and well plated, as expected. The bread pudding looks like it, and tasted like, it is made with croissant and mixed with softened macadamia nuts and white chocolate. The bread pudding was topped with Kahlua Anglaise ( a dessert topping made of custard crème). On the other side of the plate rested a pineapple ice cream, topped with a oven dried pineapple ring. This was a ridiculously delicious dessert and pretty to look at.

White Chocolate and macadamia Nut Bread Pudding with Kahluah Anglais sauce

White Chocolate and macadamia Nut Bread Pudding with Kahluah Anglais sauce


The X-factor that can make or break a restaurant is their service. Our Waiter, Kevin, made a good dinner experience into a fantastic experience by providing professional, yet very friendly service. Kevin, knew every dish and their ingredients, like he was going to the kitchen to prepare it himself. He was able to help us pick the perfect bottle of wine for our taste and price point. I don’t want to get this review getting to Kevin’s head, but he was a rock star. Request his section if you can.

My Final Thoughts about Watermarc

Sometimes the best restaurants are the ones that completely surprise you with the quality of their food and service, Watermarc did just that for me. Each of the dishes at our table was prepared artfully, both in terms of flavor and presentation. Service was impeccable and was the cherry on top for a great evening. Tom’s Foodie Blog recommends Watermarc.

448 S. Coast Highway Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 376-6272
Watermarc Website

WaterMarc Grill on Urbanspoon

Note: Some of my fans complain that I mostly only to positive reviews, the fact is that I generally do not write about mediocre restaurant experience. In fact, I only write about places which I really liked, even if it was a media event invite. If I think the food is just “good”, I will leave it to the Yelpers to write about it. The exception to this rule is Bad Reviews, I leave these for restaurants that piss me off with bad food, bad value or treat their customers poorly. Your restaurant does not want to be on this short, but sad, list.

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. All of your food looks great, now I need to go eat something really good

  2. How can you beat homemade ding dongs, Seriously??

  3. Wow – this sounds like a must-stop eatery when I head south. And I am in total agreement with your wife … bread pudding all the way!

  4. the lobster looks so yummy! Watermarc looks like a greta dining spot.

  5. Oh my goodness Tom,
    Give me Paella twice a week pleeeeaaasse

  6. I loved Watermarc! This was hands down one of the best restaurants we have been to in a very long time! When that paella arrived at our table I was so amazed with the presentation! We must go back to Watermarc again very soon!!! :)

  7. Sounds like an amazing place. I like the display of the goat cheese balls.

  8. Wow! What a find you came across. I must try when we head out there.

  9. Marjory Johnson

    These dishes look amazing. I am sure they are going to be very successful.

  10. Wow the pictures and descriptions sound so good. Fried goat cheese and seafood paella look amazing. I will keep this place in mind next time I make it out there.

  11. Woow! The dishes are so yummy! I want the cheese ball!

  12. Oh wow, that foods looks DELICIOUS!

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