Brunch at The Loft: Upscale Irresistability

On a recent Sunday, I dropped in for brunch at The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach. Although I was initially focused on the splendor of the Pacific coastline, it wasn’t long before it was the dishes that had my attention.

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With plenty to choose from, the menu offered a pleasing balance of updated traditional dishes and lively surprises. Their Blood Orange Mimosa, a mix of Piper Sonoma Sparkling Wine, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur and blood orange, got me off to an inspiring start, its lovely garnish a see-through slice of candied orange.

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Brunch began with an amuse bouche of sugar-dusted banana bread.

Lush and moist – full of ripe banana flavor – this small square of banana bread fired my engines. Not bread-like, it’s texture is more of a cross between a quick bread and a cake. Dark brown sugar gives it a perfect edge of molasses (yes, the difference between light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses).  Delicious.

The Loft’s Banana Bread recipe follows, but to see more of the luscious brunch dishes and hear Chef Campbell describe the details, read my story on Orange Coast Magazine’s Website.

Michael Campbell Makes Brunch Soar at The Loft at Montage

Or, to see Yvon Goetz (executive chef-partner at The Winery) prepares his delicious short rib hash for brunch at The Winery Newport, click here

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The Loft’s Banana Bread
A small square is served, dusted with powdered sugar, as a Brunch amuse bouche.
Yield: One 13-by-18-inch “cake.” Amount of servings depends on how big or small you want to cut the pieces.

When testing this recipe, I first made it in a Pyrex 9-by-13-inch baking pan. It made pieces that were almost three times thicker than the one I had at The Loft. I baked the bejeebers out if it, 45 minutes – but when cut, the center-of-the-pan pieces weren’t the right consistency. I remembered that the cake (bread) wasn’t thick, so I tried another batch baked in a half sheet pan (18-by-13-by-1-inches). Bingo! I was concerned during the first 10 minutes of baking that it was going to overflow, but it didn’t thank goodness. But a word of advice here; sometimes half sheet pans are fractionally smaller than this. If yours is slightly smaller (to avoid overflow), consider taking out 1/4 cup of batter – use it to make yourself a tasty pancake.

1 stick (1/4 pound) butter
4 over-ripe bananas
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk
Optional garnish: powdered sugar
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a half sheet pan (18-by-13-by-1-inches) with butter.
2. Melt butter; set aside. Puree bananas until smooth in a food processor; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, add flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Thoroughly mix until evenly incorporated. Set aside.
4. In a separate large bowl, combine melted butter, bananas, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk until well combined. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine; do NOT over-mix – batter may be slightly lumpy. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 29 minutes; a toothpick inserted in center should come out clean. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into serving pieces. If desired, dust with powdered sugar. Or if serving as a dessert, accompany with whipped cream and sliced bananas.
Source: adapted from The Loft, Montage Laguna Beach
Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday.

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