Amaya La Jolla (San Diego Restaurant Week – Sneak Peek)
Amaya La Jolla is the sister restaurant to the award winning Amaya at the Grand Del Mar. If you’ve never been, it is a must try! Jorgina and I were lucky enough to be invited to indulge in some of their signature dishes from the main menu in addition to previewing some upcoming specials for next week’s San Diego Restaurant Week (SDRW), Fall 2013.
Amaya La Jolla is located in the heart of La Jolla’s dining and shopping district (right on Prospect Street).
Amaya La Jolla stays true to Papa Doug Manchester’s distinctive style. Masterminded by renowned designer Warren Sheets, the dramatic interior whisks you away to another world. Casual, but elegant, the Italian palazzo theme marries opulence and bold colors beautifully. Casual and business diners will be satisfied alike.
Executive Chef Camron Woods has done something special with the menu here. Unpretentious, but bold, Chef Camron offers fresh contemporary cuisine to satisfy the most discerning palate. Amaya also boasts a well-stocked wine cellar to pair any meal with perfectly matched vinos. Prices are reasonable here given the quality and attention to detail.
For our dinner, Chef selected several of his favorite items from the main menu as well as a few from this upcoming San Diego Restaurant Week (SDRW) Fall Menu for 2013. (Below I will be starring * and bolding these items that will be a part of this special SDRW menu.)
Salted Butter, Garlic Butter, and Honey Pecan Butter – this three butter trio kicked off our meal in style!
Served with Artisan breads – Corn Muffin, Pretzel Bread, and Chive Biscuit. These were awesome. I especially loved the Chive Biscuit! The biscuit was incredibly warm, buttery, and soft – near perfection with a touch of the honey-pecan butter.
Since Jorgina and I don’t drink much, we were presented with refreshing Liliko’i and Grapefruit non-alcoholic cocktails.
For our amuse bouche, we were presented with Chef’s rich *Corn Chowder with Smoked Duck, Crème Fraîche, and Chive. The chowder was heavenly! The sweetness of the corn paired with the saltiness of the duck equaled instant gratification.
*Spicy Chile-Lime Shrimp – New Zealand Prawns, Spanish Saffron, Chile Lime Infusion, and Toasted Sourdough Bread – Oh boy… this had to have been one of my favorite dishes of the evening. I highly recommend you try this!! The sauce is rich in flavor, yet perfectly balanced. The saffron essence is followed up masterfully with a touch of heat from the chile and the acidity from the lime. And the rustic toast was the perfect companion here to soak up all the remaining succulent sauce! In the sauce there were even gems of roasted garlic as well. The prawn appetizer brought back fond memories of the flavors we experienced in Spain and the Southwest US.
Jorgina was served a popular appetizer from their main menu – Day Boat Scallop and Beef Short Rib with Vanilla Cauliflower Puree, Huckleberry Sauce. The scallop was cooked to perfection, and the short rib was tender and savory. The trick we were told was to get a small bite of everything on the same fork. Brilliant! We loved the subtle Vanilla bean flavor peeking through the sweet and slightly acidic Huckleberry Sauce. Yet another well-balanced dish.
For our entrees, I was served the – Maple Leaf Farm Duck Breast with Cornbread Puree and Butter Beans – this dish comes from their main menu. The duck breast is brined, leading to a rich and succulent meat. It was perfectly cooked and the Cherry Port Sauce provided a warm acidity to offset the saltiness of the duck. The cornbread puree was inventive and the butter beans were another great addition.
Jorgina was served the *Seared Sea Bass – Brandade and Seared Pave, Pinot Noir Sauce. This one you will find on the SDRW menu and was another of our favorite dishes of the night. Let’s just say Jorgina was quite satisfied with this dish. The sea bass was seared to perfection and the meat of the fish was flaky and oily (in a good way!). Under the filet was a hearty brandade, which was a mixture of house-cured and salted bass, potato, and olive oil. The Pinot sauce provided an added level of richness accompanied by a handful of beautiful fresh vegetables from San Diego’s local Susie’s Farm. Again, this is another highly recommended dish to checkout!
By the time we got around to dessert, we were already teetering on the verge of being full, but these next desserts would take us over the top… heh heh. I was presented with the *Bourbon-Chocolate Torte – Bananas Foster, Peppercorn Caramel, Hazelnut Brittle, Tahitian Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. You will find this one on the SDRW menu next week. For those of you who love bananas foster, you’re gonna love this one! The torte was super decadent for the those chocolate aficionados out there. The bananas were well caramelized and everything was brought together with a delicious scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. All of this is touched off with a liberal drizzling of bourbon for an extra pop!
Jorgina got the Trio of Cheesecakes – Liliko’i Cheesecake with a Lime Coconut Sorbet and a Strawberry Caramel sauce, Hazelnut Cheesecake with a Chocolate Feuilletine Bark and a Chocolate Fudge sauce, and Cheesecake with Champagne Gelee and a Vanilla Bean Balsamic Gastrique sauce. These were surprisingly lighter than most cheesecakes, which was great given our waning appetites. I really enjoyed the extra elements on top of each cheesecake, but favored the Liliko’i and Champagne Gelee ones. Jorgina liked the Liliko’i and Hazelnut ones. Jorgina also noted that the crusts had a nice texture and a buttery finish. You really can’t go wrong here since there’s so much variety. Delish!
To end a perfect meal, I ended with a rich cup of French Press Coffee. Ahhhh… life is good. :-)
Wow, what a perfect treat this meal was! A special thank you to Chef Camron for sharing his talents firsthand with us. An additional thank you to Marguarite Clark PR and McFarlane Promotions for arranging this soiree for us. And finally, a big thanks to Darren and Anh for watching our daughter so we could venture out this evening!
Wishing you all a delicious San Diego Restaurant Week, Fall 2013!!
Amaya La Jolla 1205 Prospect St La Jolla, CA 92037