So it’s RESTAURANT WEEK! That special time of the year where you get to feel extra fancy when you go out because you have “courses.” I like to use restaurant week like most people, to try places I wouldn’t usually go to and also to go to some of the beloved places for an extra luxe feel.
New restaurant #1 was Kitchen 1540. Located on the beautiful shores of Del Mar in the L’Auberge hotel (yes, it is as fancy as the name suggests). Scenery and swankiness aside, the number one reason I chose this place was because they offered my one of my favorites on their lunch menu, tomato soup with a grilled brie cheese sandwich. Unfortunately, since I went on a Sunday, they were not offering the soup (which I thought should’ve been disclosed on the menu, but I digress).
So instead I started with the Crow’s Pass Artisan Lettuce. The menu listed, pear, candied pecans, avocado, feta and blackberries. Presentation was beautiful, great colors and shapes. There was literally half of a beautiful avocado (on the left) and on the bottom of the salad was half a poached pear (surprising, but delicious). My only critique was that the blackberry puree had an overwhelming acidity, that I ultimately tried to eat around. All in all, a great, rejuvenating salad.
Next up, another salad. Not usually my style to double up on salad, but since it’s the New Year and there was no soup I decided to go for it. The Kale Salad was a HUGE bowl of kale with persimmon, parmesan, cranberries and a light vinaigrette. Great balance with ingredients and the portion was so large, I couldn’t finish it.
Finally, thanks to my dining companion, we shared dessert. Since it was lunch you could only choose two courses so we mixed it up. It was a play on Pot de Creme Brulee. In layman’s terms, a very rich chocolate pudding with a lightly caramelized sugar crust. Again, a HUGE portion. Plus they put beignets on top of the cake-stand portion of pot de creme with a side of a creme anglaise (vanilla bean sauce). I love my sweets, but this portion was out of control , especially for restaurant week. I would’ve been happy with a small ramekin of the pot de creme or just the beignets by themselves. It appeared this dish needed a little editing, but all the components were tasty.
If you’re looking for coastal, modern California cuisine, I would recommend Kitchen 1540, just be ready to get more than a little stuffed and bring a friend.