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Shifting tide: The Marine Room in La Jolla to reopen Oct. 5 with new lounge and dining concept

The Marine Room reopens Wednesday, Oct. 5, with a new lounge concept and menu, along with a refurbished dining room.
(La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club)

The lounge will have its own small-plates menu, specialty cocktails and a two-hour dining experience requiring a minimum food and beverage purchase of $100 per person.

When people think of The Marine Room, they may think of its La Jolla Shores location and the waves crashing against the windows. But executive chef Mike Minor wants the restaurant to be “so much more than that.”

“We want it to be a culinary destination and an experience for you and not just a special-occasion restaurant,” he said.

To that end, Minor will broaden his “competition” with the waves, reopening the venue at 2000 Spindrift Drive on Wednesday, Oct. 5, after a three-week closure with a new lounge and dining concept in addition to a “refreshed” dining room.

The Lounge at The Marine Room will debut with a new menu and a two-hour dining experience requiring a minimum food and beverage purchase of $100 per person.

The lounge, in the former bar area at the base of the entryway stairs, will have its own high-end small-plates menu along with specialty cocktails.

The Surf and Turf dish will be served at the Lounge at The Marine Room in La Jolla.
(Lounge at The Marine Room)

The new concept adds to the restaurant’s 81-year history and reputation with “more modern-style food and presentations,” Minor said.

“I’m just most excited for people to come in and see and understand that the menu changes weekly, almost daily, and so you can really come [and have] something different all the time,” Minor said.

The refurbished dining room will continue to serve the traditional menu, he said.

Executive chef Mike Minor of The Marine Room
Executive chef Mike Minor wants The Marine Room to be “a culinary destination and ... not just a special-occasion restaurant.”
(La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club)

Minor arrived at The Marine Room in April 2021 after 30 years in Las Vegas and later that year was named to head the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club’s culinary operations, which include The Marine Room, The Shores restaurant, the members-only Club Dining and the club’s banquet program. He said the lounge came from an idea to “give people a new, fun experience.”

The feast will begin with one for the eyes, with new wood floors and carpeting and fresh furniture and lighting.

The updated interior will “match with the food and the presentation,” Minor said. “It’s exciting.”

The lounge will “bring some sophistication” that continues with the reimagined menu, which includes items “that maybe you’ve never had before,” Minor said.

He’ll be serving “whimsical food … all little, small bites” like tuna cigars with spicy tuna and spices rolled in seaweed and sitting in an “ash tray.”

It will provide “a different journey of food that you’re not expecting,” he said.

“Our mantra is, ‘Our competition is that beautiful ocean out there.’ How do we beat that ocean?”

— Mike Minor, The Marine Room executive chef

The menu also follows Minor’s shift of The Marine Room into an all-sustainable seafood restaurant.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into lowering our carbon footprint, sourcing seafood that is not endangered or not fished [or farmed] in the wrong way,” he said.

Also, he said, The Marine Room is “the only restaurant in San Diego that’s doing certified dry aged tuna,” which Minor is serving in a carpaccio to highlight its texture.

The carpaccio, typically made with steak, is meant “to trick your mind a little bit,” Minor said.

And as always, he added, “presentation is next-level.”

“Our mantra is, ‘Our competition is that beautiful ocean out there,’” Minor said. “How do we beat that ocean?

“Every day when we walk in, we’re like, ‘All right, we’re coming after you.’ We want to be the best.”

The Marine Room is “becoming a little bit more trendy and modern” as it tries to attract younger diners to experience it “in a whole new way,” Minor said. The new lounge concept and menu align with that shift.

“It’s a whole entire experience,” he said. “Sight, sound, flavors, smell, texture, all of that.”

Beef tartare with black truffle and edible gold leaf on a baguette is on the menu at the Lounge at The Marine Room.
(Lounge at The Marine Room)

The Lounge at The Marine Room will be open from 4 to 11 p.m.; dinner is served from 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Guests must deposit $100 when they make a lounge reservation for a two-hour seating.

For reservations or more information, visit marineroom.com.

— San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Pam Kragen contributed to this report.