Sky Room makes some changes


The Sky Room has been a prime destination for discriminating diners for years. Now, a change in ambiance and a new executive chef with exciting culinary innovations have made this upscale restaurant more popular than ever with sophisticated La Jollans and savvy visitors from all over the world.

The striking new decor incorporates the best in contemporary design with the high standard of elegance Sky Room customers have learned to expect from the jewel in La Valencia Hotel’s crown.

The room looks larger now, thanks to the sleek lines of the chairs and the dramatic black, dark green and white color scheme. However, the restaurant is still as intimate and richly appointed as ever. The designers didn’t try to enlarge the room. They just gave it a makeover that would appeal to contemporary tastes. Everything on the tables are new designs as well, including the stunning white china, the square-shaped silver chargers, the stemware and the magnificent fresh floral centerpieces.

There’s also been a change most guests won’t notice, but it has really improved the restaurant. Instead of preparing food in the main kitchen downstairs, the newly-designed Sky Room has its own well-equipped kitchen. The chef is never more than a few yards away from the delighted diners for whom he’s creating those spectacular dishes.

Chef Vaughan Mabee hails from New Zealand, and his culinary roots played an important part in shaping his cuisine. You’ll find many ingredients from that part of the world in his dishes, including New Zealand cockle, cervena rack, Sous Vide New Zealand lamb, and Australian sport fish.

Don’t be surprised if some of the dishes are unfamiliar. For example, Patagonian toothfish ($55) is what you probably know as Chilean sea bass.

Of course, even familiar items get royal treatment at this very special dining establishment. You see kobe beef on many menus these days, but the Japanese kobe beef used at the Sky Room is the highest grade. That quality is rarely seen on local menus.

The chef is a stickler for freshness as well as quality, so the menu changes monthly to reflect the very best product available. The November appetizer list featured Royal Miyagi oyster with melted leeks and caviar cream ($24), petite seasonal garden vegetables with frisee and fresh black truffle ($18), deux foie gras ($26), and an heirloom tomato carpaccio with burratini and mint tarragon essence ($22) that would start any meal off with style.

But the real star of the starter menu was the Maine lobster and langoustine souffle with caviar sauce ($25). We loved it, and we noticed many of the other diners enjoying this delicacy as well.

The entree menu featured Japanese kobe with foie gras zucchini flower (Market Price), Sonoma rabbit with European langoustine and a rabbit demi glace ($48), whole Maine lobster with vanilla local urchin sauce ($70), and the Patagonian toothfish we adored ($55), just to name a few. The delicate fish was served with black trumpet butter, New Zealand cockle, and caviar champagne sauce. It was as wonderful as it sounds.

Lamb lovers will celebrate the Sous Vide New Zealand lamb with wild mushrooms and Yorkshire pudding ($52). Chef Mabee’s father was English, and that’s how he learned to make this classic pudding. Pairing the Yorkshire pudding with the lamb dish was a splendid idea. It makes the perfect lamb preparation.

The sous chef Thomas Gerard is responsible for the heavenly desserts you’ll find at The Sky Room. There are three desserts every day, and they change daily, but you really can’t go wrong with his sumptuous creations.

The wine list is even more impressive than ever. Not only does the remodeled wine cellar feature 1,110 wines, you’ll find many more available by the glass (starting at $9 per glass). Ask sommelier Dustin Jones to help you with your selection.

The Sky Room offers a chef tasting menu nightly. During our visit, the selections included seared foie gras with apples and port reduction, poached Maine lobster, Patagonian toothfish with black trumpet butter, Sonoma rabbit, Japanese kobe filet and other items. The prix fixe meal costs $150 ($210 if you opt for the wonderful wine paring).

The sky’s the limit with Chef Mabee and Sous Chef Gerard in charge of the kitchen. The newly refurbished Sky Room restaurant makes the perfect backdrop for their culinary creations, and you can’t beat the million-dollar view. After all, the restaurant is on the 10th floor and it faces the ocean. The impeccable service by a very professional staff makes the dining experience complete, and you can leave your car with the valet right outside the door of the hotel for complementary parking.

Don’t wait for a special occasion to savor the cuisine and atmosphere at the Sky Room, but be sure to call ahead for reservations.

The Sky Room at La Valencia Hotel is at 1132 Prospect St. Call (800) 451-0772.