Sea & Smoke opens in Del Mar as American brasserie

By Kelley Carlson

Matt Gordon makes it clear that at his newest restaurant, Sea & Smoke, the focus is on quality and simplicity. The chef/owner — who also heads Solace in Encinitas and Urban Solace in North Park — recently established the American-style brasserie as a place for people to feel comfortable sipping a coffee or a cocktail.

The Lobster Roll features butter poached Maine Lobster, which is simply dressed with celery, scallions, herbs and chopped Bibb lettuce, and served on toasted bread. Here, it's served with Spiced Kennebec French Fries, dusted with golden brown sugar and other seasonings. Photos by Kelley Carlson

“It’s a convivial place to be in the metropolitan area,” Gordon said.

Sea & Smoke is spacious and relaxing, where people can chitchat over a background of upbeat tunes and casually observe Flower Hill shoppers en route to their favorite stores. In the morning, the dining room is bathed in natural light; at night, it’s dimly lit, as candles cast a warm glow across tabletops. Some guests venture out onto the front patio, which is dotted with umbrellas and embellished with foliage and flowers.

The action is more lively downstairs in the bar/lounge, with sports on the TVs and weekly promotions that encourage socialization. There’s Martini & Manhattan Mondays, featuring $8 cocktails; Trivia Tuesdays, when participants are asked questions about food, alcohol and rock ‘n’ roll and compete for prizes; and Why Not?! Wednesdays, where guests can dance the night away as a DJ plays ‘80s and ‘90s music from 9 p.m. to midnight. And patrons can also unwind on the patio, where there are couches for lounging and tables for dining, and lights strung overhead for a festive touch.

Apple and Fig Tartine.

But the center of attention at Sea & Smoke is truly on the food.

Gordon ensures there are no artificial colors or flavors in the cuisine and the cocktails, and he turns to organic and free-range farms for ingredients. In addition, Gordon takes advantage of produce that’s in season (the majority of it sourced locally) and creates dishes around it.

One example is the Roasted Squash Salad, a multi-colored medley of autumn vegetables and fruits with differing textures: kale, pieces of squash and pomegranate seeds, with quinoa, crumbled feta and a maple bourbon vinaigrette.

The day menu is filled with classic breakfast dishes, salads, sandwiches and starters. Sea and Smoke’s signature is its Cast Iron Skillet Benedicts with perfectly poached eggs. A moist, sweet cornbread forms the base, and it’s topped with steamed spinach, two eggs, mustard hollandaise and a choice of meat or vegetable, such as the flaky and tender salmon.

The dining room at Sea & Smoke.

Among the notable sandwiches is the Lobster Roll (which is also on the gluten-free menu). Patrons can experience the full flavors of butter poached Maine Lobster, which is simply dressed with celery, scallions, herbs and chopped Bibb lettuce, and served on toasted bread. A recommended side is the sweetly Spiced Kennebec French Fries, dusted with golden brown sugar and other seasonings.

For a different spin on a sandwich, there’s the Apple and Fig Tartine, featuring a garlic-fig puree spread on open-faced grilled bread, piled with arugula, green apples sliced julienne-style, candied pecans, and melted fontina and Maytag blue cheese.

On the night menu, the sandwiches are replaced with meat and seafood entrees, and family-style sharing is encouraged. Nearly a dozen sides are offered a la carte, and each can be paired with any dish. “Our philosophy is that each and every component is supposed to be stand-alone delicious,” Gordon said.

Roasted Squash Salad, a multicolored medley of kale, squash, pomegranate seeds, quinoa, crumbled feta and a maple bourbon vinaigrette.

The evening standout is the slow-cooked Niman Ranch Braised Lamb Shoulder with a dollop of spicy herb sauce. Gordon’s personal favorite is the Bibb Salad, a classic steakhouse salad with house-made buttermilk dressing and fried onions.

Sundays are special at Sea & Smoke, and include a “Top Your Own Cinnamon Roll Bar” from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Customers are given a roll to take to a bar that they can customize with up to 14 toppings, including homemade butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, toasted coconut and pecans. Breakfast can be further enhanced with a Pour Over Single Serving of coffee that is nutty, fruity and has virtually no acidity, and which Gordon insists is more intensely caffeinated. Meanwhile, there’s live acoustic music from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; for the artist lineup, go to

Sea & Smoke

Address: 2690 Via de la Valle, Suite D210, Del Mar

The Vibe: Casual, Relaxed, Cozy

Signature Dishes: Cast Iron Skillet Benedicts, Niman Ranch Braised Lamb Shoulder

Open Since: 2013

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to midnight Wednesday, Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday


Phone: (858) 925-8212

Reservations: Recommended

Patio Seating: Yes

Takeout: Yes

Happy Hour: 3 p.m. to close Monday-Wednesday, and 3-6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. 

This week: Sea & Smoke’s  Roasted Squash Salad

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  4. New chef stirs up Mediterranean Room’s fare with fresh, international flavors
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Posted by Staff on Dec 4, 2013. Filed under Food, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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