By Kelley CarlsonAt Arterra, which means “art of the earth,” Executive Chef Tony Miller turns to his roots for inspiration in creating dishes. Growing up in the Midwest and on the East Coast, Miller noted that he experienced each of the four seasons distinctly, and wanted that to be reflected in his food. ”You can taste the seasons changing,” he said.
One of his favorite items for the summer at Arterra — the menu will change Oct. 1 — is the Sweet Tea Brined Chicken and Waffles, a mixture of Benton’s bacon waffle, sweet corn and maple crema.
Miller has a couple of entree recommendations for patrons enjoying “refined” service in the warmly hued dining room, with its cushioned seats and its gauzy curtains. One is the Fennel Pollen Seared Halibut, with potato puree, pickled cherry, braised fennel and lemon; the other is the Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese, incorporating mascarpone, parmesan, white truffle, orzo and chives, which is offered year-round.
Children may choose items such as pizza, chicken and burgers from their special menu; Arterra also offers them a treasure box from which to select small toys —“kind of like at the dentist’s office,” Miller said.
In the opulent indoor lounge, guests can relax in large, stuffed chairs with pillows or sit on metallic-colored seats around the bar, watching sporting events on one of eight TVs, while sampling more casual fare. There’s Crispy Peking Duck Tacos, a Trio of BLT Sliders and the 3 a.m. Cup of Noodles — “what the chef eats in the middle of the night,” Miller said . These contain crispy pork, spicy bacon broth, soba noodles and poached egg.
When the weather is pleasant, guests can venture outside and set up at the outdoor lounge, adjacent to the pool. Kick back in the large cabana with its oversized seats or enjoy some one-on-one time at a table for two, while basking in the glow of a fire pit at night.
Patrons will hear Top 40 tunes for morning motivation, with slightly lower-key music as day turns into evening. During happy hour, Arterra is at its most vibrant, busiest state — there’s live music to DJ-spun to reggae and rock, depending on the day of the week.
Guests who desire a more intimate experience are advised to arrive at the start of happy hour (when it’s less crowded) or after 8:30 p.m. There are also private dining rooms for special events: There’s the newly redecorated, elegant Vintage Room, suitable for wine dinners and chef’s tables.
The comfortable Living Room, with its red velvet curtains and autumnal palette of colors, provides books on topics such as golf courses and Lucille Ball, as well as two TVs. Finally, there is the Great Room, featuring a fireplace and accommodations for a full-service feast or a reception-style affair.
Arterra at Marriott Del Mar
Address:11966 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley
The Vibe:Elegant, Casual
Signature Dishes:Lobster ‘Mac ‘n’ Cheese,’ Coffee and Doughnuts
Hours:Breakfast 6:30-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; 7-11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday
Dinner 5:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday
Bar 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily
Sushi Bar 5:30-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Happy Hour:4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. This week: Arterra’s Handmade Fettucini with dried cranberries, applewood bacon, butternut squash and goat cheese alfredo sauce.