A. R. Valentien – La Jolla – December 2010 – 2 Great Dinners!

I’ve written about this great restaurant before and it continues to live up to prior visits.  Located at the Five Diamond Lodge at Torrey Pines, and named after a Craftsman artist, they epitomize the Locavore Farm-To-Table ideal, with very high quality food, prepared simply but magically to dazzle the palate.  The best word is “Intense” for the flavor.  The flavor of each key ingredient jumps out. 

FIRST DINNER:  One of us was hungry, the other not so much, so we ordered one Farm-To-Table tasting menu, which included:

 Roasted Oysters with Caviar –  Wilted Lettuce, Preserved Lemon, Crème Fraiche Sauce, served with Schramsberg, Blanc de Blancs, California, 2006 (we just love this stuff)

Roasted Quail with Winter Panzanella, chanterelle mushrooms, arugula, scarlet turnip, parmesan, served with Patz & Hall Chardonnay (Dutton Ranch – Russian River) 2006

Hanger Steak and Braised Short Rib Croquette (you wouldn’t believe a croquette could be this good) with beans, nettles, celeriac puree, served with Robert Craig Howell Mountain Cab 2007

Apple Tasting:  Tart, Caramel Apple, Brown Butter Cake with Apple Compote, served with Beringer, “Nightingale,” Napa, 2005

We shared the wine pairing, and the not so hungry person had Porcini Mushroom Soup and Roasted Vegetables with Potato Pierogi.  All really delicious.  Not too shabby for a starter and side!

After dessert, they provide a second complimentary dessert, with mini donuts, and other wonderful treats. 

SECOND NIGHT

We tried Dry Cured Mangalitsa Ham, with grilled endive and pear, plus smoked trout with sunchoke puree, turnip, dill, chrysanthemum greens and kumquat.  We shared a Dry Aged Niman Ranch NY Strip, with Bloomsdale Spinach, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Ozette Potatoes and Pearl Onions.  We’d had a cocktail, so we shared a half bottle of Opus One – really great wine!  All of this was perfectly cooked and beautiful on the plate.

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