Wild about Chef Rainer Schwarz’ new spring menu at Driftwood Kitchen: vibrant seasonal fare at its best

By dianne russell

We all know that spring brings wildflowers, especially this year, but it also produced something else to be wild about – a new seasonal menu at Driftwood Kitchen created by Chef Rainer Schwarz. He is also the Executive Chef of The Deck on Laguna Beach and Hendrix Restaurant and Bar.

Tuesday evening, my fellow writer at Stu News Marrie Stone and I had the pleasure of sampling some of his new dishes while sipping springtime cocktails and watching the sun set over the Pacific. 

Wild about Rainer

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Courtesy of Driftwood Kitchen

Chef Rainer Schwarz introduces new seasonal menu

Adding to his already acclaimed menu of ocean-inspired offerings, Chef Rainer introduces dishes featuring fresh, vibrant spring ingredients. Among the new items is the DK Seafood Tower, a seafood lover’s dream, filled with Maine lobster tail, king crab leg, poached jumbo Mexican shrimp, oysters on the half shell, Spanish octopus ceviche, and tuna tartare.

Wild about ceviche

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Photo by Marrie Stone

Spanish octopus ceviche

“Our new spring menu sees the addition of the season’s freshest ingredients presented in dishes designed to keep our menu fresh and excite guests,” commented Chef Rainer. “We are focused on utilizing the best local ingredients to complement the freshest seafood we can get our hands on.” 

Chef Rainer’s new menu features the following dishes: 

Quinoa Salad: avocado, grilled sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese, lime-mint vinaigrette 

Roasted Baby Beet Salad: red and white Belgian endive, caramelized onion vinaigrette, roasted pine nut and toasted goat cheese crostini

Wild about salmon

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Photo by Marrie Stone

The salmon was smooth as silk

House Cured Steelhead Salmon: cucumber and dill creme fraiche, brioche toast points, Peruvian peppadews 

Duck Confit and Goat Cheese Ravioli: beurre blanc, sautéed mushrooms, toasted pistachios 

Although I didn’t try this dish, Marrie had great things to say about it. “The duck ravioli was a stand-out. So rich and cheesy, it almost reminded me of a fondue. The sauce paired so well against the smoky tenderness of the meat. I haven’t had anything like it, and I’ll be back to have it again.”

Large Plates: 

Whole Roasted Dover Sole: “sauce Grenoble”, potato onion brandade 

Seared Diver Scallops: pan seared scallops, fregola pasta, cauliflower, Moroccan salsa, Marcona almonds

Wild about soup

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Photo by Marrie Stone

Creamy roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Pan Seared Thai Snapper: roasted eggplant chutney, tomato jam, grilled yellow squash, blistered baby heirloom tomato 

(This sampling was a winner. The Thai Snapper melts in your mouth and pairs beautifully with the zesty eggplant chutney.)

Blackfoot Buffalo Ribeye: ancho chili glaze, creamy parsnip puree, green beans and sweet garlic parsnip chips

“People tend to shy away from bison, but the tenderness of this cut and the leanness of the meat make it one of my favorite beef dishes,” says Marrie. “It dissolves on the tongue, no knife required. And the sweet tang of the marinade made it an unexpectedly delightful dish.”

Wild about meat

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Photo by Marrie Stone

Blackfoot Buffalo Ribeye

Grilled Center Cut Swordfish: roasted carrot, Okinawa purple potato, green zucchini curry, fried onion, coconut cream, pickled red jalapeño, micro cilantro salad 

DK Seafood Tower: Maine lobster tail, king crab leg, poached jumbo Mexican shrimp, oysters on the half shell, Spanish octopus ceviche, tuna tartare (Petite/Large)

Wild about seafood tower

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Photo by Marrie Stone

Seafood Tower

At the end of the evening, Marrie said, “There’s no better setting to indulge in a decadent meal. The ocean is the perfect backdrop for Driftwood’s array of fresh seafood, which creates a feast for all the senses. The crashing surf, the sunset, the salty scent in the air all set the mood for a special night indulging in every course.”

Chef Rainer’s menu still includes Driftwood Kitchen’s signature Yellowfin Tuna Tartare Tacos, Grilled Spanish Octopus, and Whole Fried Texas Redfish, which can feed up to four guests and must be ordered in advance. 

Driftwood Kitchen is located at 619 Sleepy Hollow Ln and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

For more information, go to www.driftwoodkitchen.com or call (949) 715-7700.