Three Seventy Common
This Laguna Beach restaurant is common - evolved.
Creating or maintaining friendships is
more fun when drinks are involved –
a fact not overlooked by Three
Seventy Common. That’s why it has
the Buy Your Friend a Drink board, a
chalkboard at the bar that lists the
names of people whose friends have
bought them a drink ahead of time,
and which can be redeemed anytime.
There’s a widespread adage we often hear that relates to things like tolerance and acceptance: the notion that, as human beings, we all have much more in common than we think we do. So let’s start with the basics: We all have a mother and a father, we will all die and we all have to eat in order to stay alive. This latter trait, however, also functions as a counter to the same argument; it demonstrates that within our greater commonalities, there are differences that separate the eating world into two camps – those who eat to live and those who live to eat. And for those that fall into the latter category, we’ve got good news for you: There’s a new restaurant in town you will want to try.
Three Seventy Common is the product of proprietor and chef Ryan Adams, an Orange County native who believes in things your mother always told you were bad (like being a picky eater) – and who has latched onto this idea of commonality. His interpretation, however, doesn’t even require the assumption that this common ground must revolve around the love of good food, but rather that good food revolves around the idea of the common, defined chiefly as sharing food and provisions as a group in a large dining hall. In this sense, “common” relates to the common bonds among people rather than their mutual appreciation of the epicurean world, and it just so happens that really good food is involved.
If these philosophical musings make no sense at all, that’s OK, because Adams’s food will. Following in the current trend of the gastropub/tavern, Three Seventy Common in Laguna Beach employs many of the same concepts we’ve been seeing of late – the locally sourced, homegrown-inspired menu – and even some similar dishes we’ve seen around town (bone marrow, pork belly, etc.). But that’s not the whole story. If other places focus on the generally local market, Three Seventy is hyperlocal; and if some of the dishes seem less than totally inventive, look closer. Offered into evidence: The pork belly doesn’t just rely on its innate tenderness and rich texture to win diners over; at Three Seventy Common, Adams adds arugula, pistachio, figs, and citrus vinaigrette to bring out the meat’s best qualities. They’re additions that heighten the experience rather than compete with it. The same can be said of the foie gras served atop huckleberry pancakes, with bacon, maple and smoke. Little bites of blueberry-like sweetness in the pancakes operate only to complement, not detract from, the protagonist (the foie gras), while the rest of the ingredients play along like very experienced extras. Last on the list of medium bites was the wild mushroom bruschetta, which, while the least memorable of the three, was still abundant and well thought out, with a mountain of mixed mushrooms piled on top of grilled bread and scattered with parmesan and bitter greens.
It’s likely that all of this deliciousness was heightened by a sense that Three Seventy Common ran remarkably well – disarmingly well for a restaurant that had just opened its doors several weeks prior to our visit. The usual snafus didn’t come up here – misplaced reservation, bad timing and the like – and this, we learned, was likely a result of Adams’s prior experience as executive chef for Sorrento Grille. Of course, that kind of experience also translates well into the kitchen, from where our large plates – butcher steak and game hen – came forth. The butcher steak had been coated in chimichurri, an Argentinean green sauce usually consisting of chopped parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar, but this version, the server told us, also had mint, which was the flavor that stood out from the pack. The flavor was overwhelming at times, but the meat itself was tender and covered in a delightful char that mitigated the strong herbal component. Golden fries on the side were also an upside. The game hen was roasted to perfection and meaty, served with carrots, potatoes, roasted garlic, half of a charred lemon, and thyme broth. Think of every delicious thing you could possibly want on a chilly night, and this dish was it (besides a great glass of wine or a local brew, of which the restaurant also has plenty).
Dessert is an understated affair at Three Seventy Common, but it’s got all the requisites: chocolate, pie, ice cream. We chose a spin on a classic – fried apple pies with salted caramel and vanilla crema. They arrived looking like your typical empanada, but the taste proved otherwise. For one thing, the crust was exceedingly flaky and buttery, while the insides were tangy, salty and sweet all at once – a feat accomplished by only the most scrupulous of sweet makers.
Our take? Three Seventy Common is anything but common.