By Andrea Swayne
34094 Pacific Coast Highway
Craft House owner Blake Mellgren, originally from Laguna Niguel, developed a keen interest in the cooking while working in the restaurant business during college at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. While completing his undergraduate degree, Mellgren worked at Chez Melange in Redondo Beach, a job he kept for two years after graduation. He then moved to New York and while completing a restaurant management program and worked at The Modern with Danny Meyer. Mellgren returned to the area a little over two years ago and began the process of designing the menu and the building for Dana Point’s newest addition to the culinary landscape.
The Craft House approach to food, Mellgren said, is offering “creative yet approachable” food made with quality ingredients and served in a sophisticated but comfortable atmosphere. The menu includes starters such as a duck confit poutine and butternut squash gnocchi. Main dishes include steak, pork, seafood and chicken entrees as well as vegan choices and desserts. The bar will feature a selection of local craft beers, boutique wines and handcrafted cocktails.
“Don’t miss our traditional New England style clam chowder. Topped off with five to seven steamed clams, I’m pretty sure it will be a big hit,” Mellgren said. “Our meatloaf—ground beef, ground pork, ground bacon, Cajun spiced—will likely be another favorite. It is served with braised greens, a hominy puree and a tomato gravy on top.”
Mellgren said he and his staff are focused on keeping the quality of his cuisine top-notch by using local purveyors as much as possible and sourcing the best qualify ingredients, including natural meats and wild caught seafood.
Mellgren said he is very happy with the location of his restaurant at the northern entry to the city’s downtown Lantern District.
“We got so lucky on this location,” Mellgren said. “We knew that the streets and streetscapes in the Lantern District would be changing during the recent infrastructure construction and that we’d have a traffic light out front but we had no idea the Lantern District archway sign would be such a prominent site from our patio. At sunset, the view of the sign and looking down toward the mountains is absolutely beautiful. I think this is the best location in the city.”
The restaurant will be open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“We will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays to start out but will add Tuesdays sometime in the next couple months,” Mellgren said. “Once a month we will do a special beer, wine or whisky dinner and are looking to add brunch in the summertime.”