The sky’s the limit at refurbished La Valencia Hotel restaurant


La Valencia, La Jolla’s pink-hued historic hotel, has done something new with something old: renovated its penthouse Sky Room, refreshing its decor and adding an innovative new menu and bar.

For more than 80 years since it opened in 1926, famed La Valencia Hotel has offered exceptional dining at its three world-class restaurants. About a month ago, the Sky Room, La V’s most popular and intimate “Pink Lady of La Jolla,” reopened for locals and guests alike, allowing them to dine on seasonal California cuisine while taking in sweeping ocean views.

“It (Sky Room) was such an integral and classical part of the hotel, it needed a newer, fresher, more modern look,” noted Cynthia Peterson, La Valencia’s marketing manager. “Now the hotel has three different restaurants that have very distinctive personalities, distinctive menus.”

The renovated Sky Room offers a warm and refreshing update to its richly elegant space. Shades of black, deep brown and green dress the interiors, contrasting with the blue of the Pacific beyond. A new five-seat bar facing a contemporary glass fountain is an intimate meeting place for appetizers and classic cocktails, champagne or cult wines by the glass.

Tabletops feature a fresh new look as well, with fine glassware from Riedel, custom flatware from Sambonet, and Steelite porcelain.

The decor isn’t the only thing that has a new look at La Valencia’s Sky Room. Executive Chef Vaughan G. Mabee, who grew up in New Zealand, has brought some of the style and flair of that nation’s cuisine with him to the Jewel. “I’ve brought a lot of product over from New Zealand,” said Mabee, “menu items like lamb, mussels and gooseberries, things people don’t use over here so much.”

Mabee talked about the differences between the two nation’s cuisines. “New Zealand’s food has much more emphasis just on freshness,” he said, “exploiting the simple values of food without putting too much stuff on it, promoting it for what it is and letting the flavor come through. Not adding too much, just adding enough to where it complements, but does not drown, the food.”

Executive Chef Vaughan G. Mabee and Sous Chef Thomas Gerard can turn out culinary creations that would have been challenging previously, when the food was prepared downstairs in the hotel’s main kitchen.

Mabee and Gerard have worked closely in recent months to update the Sky Room’s menu with a variety of new contemporary California dishes. New selections include: Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio, Burratini, and Mint Tarragon Essence; Petite Seasonal Garden Vegetables with Frisee, and Fresh Black Truffle; and Japanese Kobe with Sauteed Potatoes, Petite Vegetables, and Fonseca Guimaraens Port Reduction.

The “Stars” in the Sky signature dish features Pearl Point Oysters, Beluga Caviar, South Pacific Genuine Pearls, Cristal Champagne, and Baccarat Crystal Champagne flutes for guests to take home.

The Sky Room is located on the 10th floor of La Valencia Hotel, located at 1132 Prospect Ave. It is open daily for dinner. On Friday and Saturday nights, seatings are at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Complimentary valet parking is available. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (800) 451-0772.