The new Ironwood recently debuted in Laguna Hills, CA, with a dinnerhouse menu that plays on wine country regions around the world.
The 120-seat restaurant is the first ground-up concept by Russ Bendel, who also bought and took over operation of Vine Restaurant & Bar in San Clemente, CA, in 2013.
Bendel is the son of a longtime restaurant-industry veteran with the same name, who is now chief executive of Habit Restaurants, parent to the Habit Burger Grill chain. The senior Bendel is also an investor in Ironwood.
Not surprisingly, the younger Bendel also served time in the chain restaurant world as a former operating partner for Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Newport Beach, CA.
Now Bendel says he's hoping to make his own mark with a restaurant group of uniquely designed concepts tied by a wine-country theme.
The menu at Ironwood was designed by chef and partner Jared Cook, who also helms the kitchen at Vine.
Bendel describes the food as New American variations of dishes from wine-rich regions, like the signature Jidori chicken schnitzel and pan-roasted Greek seabass.
Here's a look at the new Ironwood.