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Dining remodel ushers in changes at La Valencia

Patrons and friends of the Pink Lady of La Jolla, La Valencia Hotel, enjoyed a preview of the dining room and patio remodel at a cocktail party on Dec. 10 in the new outdoor gathering space.

Guests and staff toasted the design, noting the stone fountains and intimate seating arrangements under the watchful eyes of new Executive Chef Sean Eastwood.

Eastwood is in the process of creating a new Mediterranean-inspired menu at La Valencia to complement the new decor. He plans to infuse the fresh bounty from nearby organic farms with the flavors, spices and traditions of Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Southern France. His target date is mid-January.

Eastwood heads the hotel’s three restaurants — The Whaling Bar & Grill, the Sky Room and the Mediterranean Room and Patio. He was trained at Courtfield Culinary School in Blackpool, England.

La Valencia Hotel, which opened in 1926, will mark its 84th year in 2010 looking over the Pacific Ocean at 1132 Prospect St. www.lavalenciahotel.com. (858) 454-0771.

Other dining options

There are two other food and beverage spaces in the hotel, which haven’t changed recently:

The Whaling Bar and Grill was part of the post-WW II renovations. A feeling of an Old-World seaside pub consumes the bar, with the decor consisting of deep red leather banquettes, unique harpoons, lanterns, ivory scrimshaw and fishing murals.

A two-year restoration was completed in 1999 and every original element was brought back, including a mural depicting fishermen harpooning whales off the coast, which is hung above the bar.

Many famous guests such as Pete Townsend, Kenny Loggins and Lou Holtz have frequented the bar. The house specialty drink is The Whaler, a rich and creamy concoction, the ingredients a closely guarded secret. Lunch and dinner are served from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

La Sala is a meeting place where guests can sit back and relax. The hand-painted ceiling and spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows accentuate the true Mediterranean essence of the hotel. For listening enjoyment, piano accompaniment is provided Wednesday-Saturday. A tapas menu, $6-$12, is served nightly.

The Sky Room, due to its success, will become a private dining venue in January. Many groups were hoping to rent the space on weekends, so the addition of the Mediterranean Room and Patio and its cuisine, which will range from more casual tapas on the patio to fine dining and romantic options inside, allowed for the hotel to offer the Sky Room for private events.