Dana Point

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In a Nutshell

  • Creative French fare
  • Extensive wine list
  • Beautiful presentation

The Fine Print

Promotional value expires Oct 30, 2010. Amount paid never expires. Limit 3 per person. Limit 1 per table, 2 for tables of 5 or more. Not valid on 5/9. Reservation required. Tax and gratuity not included. Not valid with other offers. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.

He who desires but not acts breeds pestilence, which in turn is the source of most failed movie remakes. Act on your French desires with today's Groupon: for $35, you get $70 worth of fine French fare and drinks at Gemmell's in Dana Point.

Chef Byron Gemmell's fine-tuned bill of creative French fare is seasoned with traditional techniques and classic recipes and stirred up with fresh artistry, innovation, and a heat-resistant spoon. Gemmell's lunch menu is lusciously laden with appetite appeasers such as the cassolette of escargot (farm-raised helix snails sautéed with garlic, shallots, mushrooms, and ham in a burgundy sauce, $8.95) and pate de canard (the chef's mousse blend of duck liver and cognac, $8.95), as well as tempting luncheon specials and entrees including chicken and mushroom crepes ($13.95) and Gemmell's bistro burger ($13.95). When the evening bell rings, which is only audible to hungry humans and sleeping dogs, dinner emerges from its daily slumber. Feast upon exquisite dishes (and the cuisine upon them) such as scallops au confit of garlic (giant eastern sea scallops in a garlic-champagne butter sauce, $29.95) or roasted duck (bathed and slow roasted in dark rum and banana liquor, topped with caramelized bananas and served with fresh veggies and roasted potatoes, $24.95), among many others.

Properly complement the evening with an elegant glass from Gemmell's awe-inspiring wine list and top off your taste buds with a decadent French dessert. Gemmell's suggests pairing an apple-tart tatin a la mode ($7.95) with a glass of tawny port or a decadent flourless chacolát ($7.95) with a chilled glass of 2% milk, ideally sipped through a curly straw. Reservations are needed, so call ahead before heading in.

Not valid on Mother's Day.


Both Gayot and the OC Weekly cite Gemmell's as a little slice of Parisian heaven hidden in the heart of the OC. Four Citysearchers give the French restaurant five stars, Yelpers give it four, and nine TripAdvisors go to 3.5.

  • Chef Gemmell’s recipes use less butterfat, though seemingly without sacrificing any richness of texture…this lovely Dana Point Harbor restaurant provides a pleasant dining experience and draws an upscale crowd. – Gayot
  • The appetizers are memorable…but even better are the main courses: buttery Dover sole, New York steak bathed in a creamy beige sauce of brandy and peppercorns, smooth French onion soup. Salivating yet? – OC Weekly
  • We conversed back in forth from English to French. It was a delight. The food was superb - veal ribs, NY sirloin, bay scallops, etc. Only wish we had thought to order the chocolate souffle for dessert. Allez-y! C'est romantique! – littlemassBoston, TripAdvisor

Gemmell's Restaurant

Rich soups, seafood in butter sauce, filet mignon, creamy desserts—the high points of French cuisine are well-represented at Gemmell's Restaurant. Chef Gemmell uses that tradition as a starting point for a menu that reflects the multicultural techniques you might expect from a chef of his background. Born to a Scottish family living in Guatemala, Chef Gemmell moved to the United States in 1971 and landed a job as a busboy serving famous cartoon characters at the Disneyland Hotel. He soon began working his way up in the kitchen, opening his first eatery by the age of 30.

Today, at his namesake restaurant, Chef Gemmell smokes his own fish, quail, and goose, and devises his own recipes for ice creams and pastries—skills that lead Gayot to write that the chef is a "rather underrated restaurateur in South Orange County." The menu celebrates Pacific Coast seafood, along with the tender meats and vegetables given classic French preparations. Once you enter past the palmettos and white ironwork that guard the restaurant (tucked away near Dana Cove), the ambience is equally Old World. A carved wooden mantel and tall chairs and tables create a setting that imparts an eclectic homeyness without losing a drop of elegance.

Customer Reviews

Food, service and ambiance all great.
Robert B. · 3 days ago
Excellent old world service! Great food
Mindy D. · January 8, 2017
We have walked by this restaurant for years and years without ever visiting it until last year for my birthday. It was so intimate, romantic, the service was excellent and the food as well. The selections are so wonderful. We bought a Groupon for the 2 person 4-course meal and were so surprised at the breadth of the selections and the value. I had the pate, house salad, Sandabs and crepes. The other person using the 2-fer Groupon had the lobster bisque, Sirloin steak and crème brulee. All huge portions (took half home!) as well as fresh and flavorful, lovely presentation. We were celebrating my husband's birthday last night and they gave him a wonderful Meyer lemon tart on a big plate with "Happy Bday" written on the plate in chocolate. Delightful presentation and flavor. (Not your typical scoop of ice cream with a candle as a happy birthday offering!) As well, the restaurant was decorated for Christmas with whimsical nutcrackers, Christmas tree, garlands and lights sparkling around the rooms. We highly recommend Gemmell's and this has now become that special neighborhood bistro that our family will look forward to visiting for all our special events like birthdays. Check it out and don't want as long as we did (20 years?) to try out this very special place.
Claudia P. · January 6, 2017
Merchant Location Map
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    Dana Point

    34471 Golden Lantern Street

    Dana Point, California 92629

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