Laguna Hills Break of Dawn restaurant to close this month before moving to Orange – Orange County Register

Years ago, Dee Nguyen realized that maybe the sun was setting on his gastronomic career, as he had to focus on caring for his son. So he had a great idea: Break of Dawn.

The concept of the restaurant would only be breakfast-brunch. That way he wouldn’t be working late into the evening like he had been as the Grand Chef at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. He resigned and adopted his new concept. After a year, he had become the darling of critics.

  • Chef Dee Nguyen at his restaurant, Break of Dawn, in Laguna Hills, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Nguyen will close his restaurant at the end of August. He will transform the concept into BoD, a 70% plant-based menu with a prix fixe steak option, and move the entire operation to Old Towne Orange. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Chef Dee Nguyen at his restaurant, Break of Dawn, in Laguna Hills, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Nguyen will close his restaurant at the end of August. He will transform the concept into BoD, a 70% plant-based menu with a prix fixe steak option, and move the entire operation to Old Towne Orange. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Chef Dee Nguyen at his restaurant, Break of Dawn, in Laguna Hills, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Nguyen will close his restaurant at the end of August. He will transform the concept into BoD, a 70% plant-based menu with a prix fixe steak option, and move the entire operation to Old Towne Orange. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Chef Dee Nguyen at his restaurant, Break of Dawn, in Laguna Hills, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Nguyen will close his restaurant at the end of August. He will transform the concept into BoD, a 70% plant-based menu with a prix fixe steak option, and move the entire operation to Old Towne Orange. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Chef Dee Nguyen at his restaurant, Break of Dawn, in Laguna Hills, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Nguyen will close his restaurant at the end of August. He will transform the concept into BoD, a 70% plant-based menu with a prix fixe steak option, and move the entire operation to Old Towne Orange. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Chef Dee Nguyen used seats in a former theater outside his restaurant, Break of Dawn, in Laguna Hills, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Nguyen will close his restaurant in late August. He will transform the concept into BoD, a 70% plant-based menu with a prix fixe steak option, and move the entire operation to Old Towne Orange. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

  • Chef Dee Nguyen made tables from old sewing machines at his restaurant, Break of Dawn, in Laguna Hills, Calif. On Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Nguyen will close his restaurant in late August. He will transform the concept into BoD, a 70% plant-based menu with a prix fixe steak option, and move the entire operation to Old Towne Orange. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register / SCNG)

So it was bittersweet that he closed his Laguna Hills restaurant at the end of August, but he adopted a second brilliant idea: to move the operation to Old Towne Orange and launch a new concept: BoD. He will live there, will understand the dinner service and will still be able to take good care of his son, Berlin.

This is Nguyen’s top priority as Berlin was born with damaged kidneys and complications ensued. In April 2003, at 16 months old, he underwent an operation. During the operation, his breathing tube became blocked and he was without oxygen for at least 10 minutes. He was in a coma for a month, suffered brain damage and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Now 19 years old, Berlin still needs a lot of care and attention. The move to Orange will ensure that his father will always be there for him.

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The new location will consist of two parts, approximately 2,000 square feet of space at 171 N. Cyprus St. designated for the restaurant, and an adjoining 950 square foot house for Nguyen’s residence. The property is located in Old Town, very close to the Hilbert California Art Museum.

Nguyen has enjoyed success in South County, but he is eagerly awaiting the move.

“The reason we’ve been successful here for 14 years is loyalty because it’s not a walk-in restaurant,” he said. “You have to know that we exist to come back here. Orange is right in the middle of Chapman University and there is still tourism there. So you will always have customers.

Po-Sun Chen and Mark Carlos of BrightView Design Group have developed plans that will include an owner’s bedroom, culinary garden, fruit tree plantation with communal table, shade structure with vines and a ‘promenade garden. »With raised planters.

Nguyen will partner with the city, which provided architect Susan Secoy, owner of the historic Orange Ice House, with the design of the restaurant. Construction is expected to begin in early 2022. Nguyen calls his style “Modern farmhouse with Eichler influences”.

“I told her, Susan, my house is a hipped-roof cottage from 1905, but I love Eichler houses. So, can you fit in and make this modern Eichler farmhouse for me? So she sets up a yard with a tree. This space, fitted out in the alley separating the two properties, will be the entrance to the 50-seat restaurant.

It will add an orange steel wall. “An empty space with the BoD logo on it,” Ngyuen said. “Perfect for Instagram. Kids love this stuff.

Nguyen has already started testing the steak part of his new concept during the Saturday night pop-ups. “It’s a fixed price, that same setup,” he said. When it opens in Orange, it will go one step further. “You get a four-course menu, but for the steak itself, you’ll have four or five options. You can choose different types of cuts at different prices. In addition to the beef, it will serve a 70% plant-based menu with seafood options as well.

Nguyen’s menus have always been creative. Born in Vietnam and classically trained at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, he layers Asian flavors and preparations on top of many food classics. Parker House Buns are glossy glazed with a little sweetened condensed milk to give the tops the texture of a dim sum bun. The smoked salmon, served over savory oatmeal pancakes, includes pickled onions that would be delicious in a banh mi.

But this chef also knows how to keep prices reasonable and prepare comfort food like a hearty pan of potatoes or ready-made wild desserts like white chocolate and parmesan Basque cheesecake. Some of the breakfast items will be temporarily available at the old location which will become a Mexican restaurant owned and operated by Break of Dawn staffer Alejandro Cuellar.

At the New BoD, the prix fixe steak menu will start at $ 40, then prices will vary depending on whether you select a more refined cut such as rib eye or New York steak. The meal will include soup, salad and a side dish such as fries. Aperitifs and desserts will be available at an additional cost.

The restaurant will only accommodate about 50 people, but Nguyen is perfectly satisfied. “If I can pay my rent and have my $ 10 at the end of the night and eat my In-N-Out burger, I’m okay with that,” Nguyen said. “I’m not here to make money. I am not here to get rich. I have never been. Since the Berlin accident, I have seen life differently.

Dawn

Find it: 24291 Avenida De La Carlota, Laguna Hills, 949-587-9418.

Open: Until August 29, serving breakfast and brunch from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday and fixed-price steak dinners on Saturdays, August 7, 14 and 21, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. 10-course pop-up dinner will be held on August 28 for $ 100 per person, cash only. For more details, visit facebook.com/breakofdawnrestaurant.

And after: BoD will arrive at 171 N. Cyprus St., Orange in 2022.


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