When you drive along La Jolla Village Drive these days, you can’t help but notice that a familiar hotel has undergone a name change. Now the marquee reads Sheraton Hotel, not The Radisson.
Nonetheless, everything you liked about the hotel and its flagship restaurant, Humphrey’s, remains intact. In fact, there is no change in ownership or personnel, and Humphrey’s still has its talented longtime chef, Tim Wilson, who continues to make miracles in the kitchen after 15 years on the job.
Humphrey’s has a beautiful new decor that makes the dining room feel like a tropical paradise. A soft beige color scheme is accented with bold punches of red and gold in the artwork. The handsome high-backed booths are upholstered in a luxurious beige fabric, and live plants in the entrance and flowers on the tables add a touch of elegance to the attractive ambiance.
The restaurant may seem a little off the beaten path to busy La Jollans, because you have to drive into the property through a side street - even though it overlooks La Jolla Village Drive. However, it’s well worth making a trip to Humphrey’s for a relaxing lunch or memorable dinner. The dinner menu is particularly impressive, with dishes the likes of which you rarely find on contemporary menus - and Chef Wilson makes everything from seafood martinis to beef Wellington worthy of a special occasion.
Even the familiar items on this menu have a unique twist, like the stuffed mushrooms, for example. This spectacular starter ($7) is stuffed with baked pecan and blue cheese, and the mushroom caps sit on a bed of wild rice salad. It’s an awesome appetizer.
The salads are excellent, especially the heirloom tomato salad ($7) featuring local heirloom tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and mixed baby lettuce - with a pesto vinaigrette and toasted pine nuts.
The entree menu abounds with Humphrey’s classics, such as halibut macadamia with jasmine stir-fried rice and a rum raisin glaze ($27.50), slow-roasted boneless rib-eye with creamed horseradish ($27.50), and filet mignon (made with select Angus filet, and accompanied by wild mushroom sauce, and garlic mashed potatoes, $28.50).
But the real stars of this show are the Chef’s Specials - conceived by Chef Wilson and his Sous Chef Jerec DelFino. That’s where you’ll find the fabulous beef Wellington (an Angus tenderloin of beef wrapped and baked in a puff pastry shell and served with a mushroom duxelle and Cabernet Sauvignon reduction, $28).
Also on this special menu is the pork chateaubriand ($23). This beautiful dish features pistachio-crusted tenderloin of roast pork with a blueberry demi-glace. The pork is served with a wild rice pancake - and it’s delicious.
If you like soft shell crabs, the kitchen puts an Asian accent on theirs, with a spiced crispy coating, stir-fried noodles, and orange chili drizzle ($24). The scallops ($28) are another terrific choice. They’re made with fresh Maine Diver Scallops and paired with saffron risotto and a white asparagus salad.
Desserts are decadent, and the wine list is impressive, with many fine choices available by the glass (including a Pinot Noir for $7.75).
Lunch may not be quite as elegant, but it features plenty of terrific choices, such as the Taste of San Diego ($14.50). A more elaborate version sells for $21.50 on the dinner menu. However, you’ll still get jumbo shrimp sauteed in Dijon mustard and chive sauce - and it makes a marvelous lunch item.
For lighter appetites, try the salmon salad ($11.50). It features strips of fresh Atlantic salmon served over baby mixed greens and tossed with a honey lime cilantro dressing. Medallions of grilled eggplant and a roasted pepper relish finish off this fantastic salad.
You’ll love the professional service at Humphrey’s, as well as the fine cuisine and striking ambiance. There’s plenty of free parking too.
Humphrey’s La Jolla Grill is located at 3299 Holiday Court in La Jolla. For more information call them at (858) 453-5500.