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Dining Review: L’Auberge Del Mar’s new Adelaide

The resort's oceanview restaurant surprises with creative flavor combinations

Image Credits Photography by Vincent Knakal

A hotel restaurant serving three squares per day is usually a source for convenient sustenance rather than culinary innovation. Eggs and toast in the morning, salads and sammies come midday, followed by meat, potatoes, and chicken miscellany in the evening. This is what most lodgers expect from such in-house eateries, but at L’Auberge Del Mar, far more awaits care of creative combinations from Executive Chef Nick Green at the property’s reimagined resto, Adelaide.

A worldly chef whose experience includes a stint at a three-star Michelin kaiseki-style restaurant, Green’s menu spans multiple cultures, but rather than follow culinary traditions to the letter, he goes his own way, living outside the box when it comes to mixing and matching ingredients or adding components to convert familiar dishes into something compelling. 

The large doors of Adelaide’s dining room that open to the outdoors take full advantage of L’Auberge’s ocean views
The large doors of Adelaide’s dining room that open to the outdoors take full advantage of L’Auberge’s ocean views

At Adelaide, everything — from apps to entrees, sides to desserts — arrives at the table a recipient of deep thought toward composition, flavor, and balance. In the case of Green’s beef tartare, a dish done by the same old-school book 99 times out of 100, the app’s one-percenter status is announced by blankets of purple oyster flowers coating sourdough toast points sporting aged beef, bound together in a salty miso-eggplant aioli. The condiment is the key to the luxurious richness of this best-of-quality dish.

Another standard, risotto, is delightfully complex and anything but ordinary. Corn kernels and tiny medallions of pickled baby corn provide texture while a zesty sauce made from pineapples and fermented Fresno chilis brings a profound, tingly heat that’s cooled by cheese crumbles. This bowl of lava-textured arborio has so much going on that it doesn’t come across as a rice dish, but rather a composed, multifaceted offering; the type of original recipe one charts a course to enjoy again and again.

Adelaide at L’Auberge Del Mar
Adelaide at L’Auberge Del Mar

The answer to the question of whether shellfish and berries can coexist is answered in a dish of seemingly disparate items. Deeply seared scallops, tart house-preserved blueberries, eggplant, Persian cucumber, and shiso (Japanese mint) are presented in a salty, fermented tomato broth. It’s unlike any dish you’re likely to have come across and each bite is different and dependent on the proportions of each ingredient on the fork, making for something fun and, once again, unique.

A grilled octopus dish could seem pedestrian by comparison were it not for another infusion of Green’s imagination. Dragging slices of a soft, well-charred tentacle through an accompanying romesco and black sesame condiment produces a taste sensation similar to douchi (fermented black bean paste)-adorned Chinese food. Similarly, filet mignon is amplified by dry-aging and a coating of miso, rosemary, and garlic butter, then taken to even greater heights by a chutney made with chilis and black garlic. 

Executive Chef Nick Green
Executive Chef Nick Green

Avocado-studded ahi poke delivers tried-and-true flavors, but wavy puffed koshihikari rice pillows stand in for tortilla chips. Rendered onyx by squid ink, they work with seaweed to veer this starter’s flavor profile into Japanese territory. A salad of prosciutto and melon is elevated with creamy burrata, pistachios, and a French heirloom melon sourced from SoCal’s Weiser Family Farms that tastes like a honeydew-cantaloupe hybrid. Carrots are rubbed in achiote and given both texture and autumnal flavor with house-made granola, earthiness from a tahini crema, and a bright lift from fresh mint.

Having arrived following a resort-wide overhaul this spring, Adelaide is a relative newcomer to Del Mar’s dining scene. If Green keeps conceiving dishes that are not only daring but as successful as those on his current menu, he will carve a lasting place for the restaurant in the beachside burg and the hearts of local epicures. 858.793.6467, laubergedelmar.com

To view our Adelaide video, click here.

Golden Forks

Service: 4
Timeliness: 3
Ambience: 4
Culinary Innovation: 4
Food Quality: 5
Wine List: 4
Beer List: 1
Craft Cocktail Program: 4
Value: 3


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