You could drive down North Torrey Pines Road and easily miss the newest hotel in town, Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa. Aside from a few small bungalows and a parking lot facing the road, the property is nearly hidden from view.
As a result, this brand-new facility and its culinary centerpiece, Adobe El Restaurante, might stay a well-kept secret for a while. But, once discriminating La Jollans discover the exciting and innovative menu Adobe offers on a daily basis, the restaurant will become a popular stomping ground.
The hotel is handsomely designed and well-crafted in the Old California style of architecture, and the sprawling property is landscaped with striking desert plants and fountains.
Much of the hotel’s physical beauty can be enjoyed from the restaurant, whether you choose to dine indoors in the richly appointed dining room or outdoors on the patio. From both areas, you can look down on a stunning courtyard where most of the hotel rooms are located.
The dinner menu is creative in its use of ingredients, so expect anything but boring to show up on any of the courses or the side dishes.
The salad offerings, for example, include an anchovy salad with Serrano ham and micro arugula, all dressed with a delicate lemon thyme vinaigrette ($14). Even the Estancian house salad ($10) is unique. This mix of butter lettuce, summer greens, heart of palm, vine tomatoes and watercress gets its subtle flavor from an avocado sunflower dressing.
There are too many memorable appetizers to list them all. However, if you like lobster, try the Atlantic froth ($10), a creamy blend of Maine lobster, sweet corn and steamed sherry. Another fabulous lobster dish is the lobster stuffed scallop with cumin and carrot coulis ($16). You won’t find either of these preparations around town.
The chef offers a selection of pates, terrines, cured meats and country-style bread for $14, which is a good way to start any meal, or explore the world of cheeses in an ever-changing tray of fine domestic and imported cheeses ($12).
The nightly specials include two terrific beef dishes, seared rack of lamb with truffled polenta ($32) and a bouillabaisse chock full of seasonal shellfish, fresh fish, and vegetables in a saffron tomato broth ($25) to name a few.
We loved the grilled beef tenderloin tournedos with baby summer vegetables and fingerling potato confit ($28). No need to order a side with this satisfying dish, but you might find it hard to pass on the potato croquettes with cumin, goat cheese and tinker-bell pepper or the risotto. There are five side plates on the menu, each priced at $8.
The jumbo prawns pasta with English peas, bacon, baby beet and tomato herb coulis ($25) is another great dish. The combination of flavors and textures is wonderful, and these jumbo prawns are top of the line.
The restaurant offers a fine wine list, with an irresistible assortment of after dinner cordials, cognacs and wines. The desserts are fantastic as well, so save room for the summertime stone fruit tart accompanied by avocado sherbet and sugar almonds, or rum basted bananas with caramel gelato. Adobe El Restaurante has five sweet temptations to coax you off your diet. They’re priced at $8 each.
Little ladies and gentlemen are welcome to dine in this stylish new eatery with the family, and they’ll find plenty of familiar fare on the children’s menu, including burgers, chicken fingers, pizza, and macaroni and cheese with ham. Typical kids meals range from $6 to $8. If you have a “petite gourmet,” dishes like pan-seared salmon, sauteed shrimp penne pasta and petite filet of beef with bordelaise sauce is available (starting at $14).
Don’t wait too long to discover the newest jewel in La Jolla’s crown. And there’s plenty of free parking for dinner guests, even if you opt for valet parking.
Adobe El Restaurante at Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa is at 9700 North Torrey Pines Road. For information, call (858) 550-1000.