Loading…

We couldn't find that.
Let's go back home and try again.

Dining Review: Valle

Roberto Alcocer’s new restaurant in Oceanside’s Mission Pacific Hotel showcases the flavors of Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe

Valle offers a taste of Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe wine region amid gorgeous Pacific Ocean views
Published
By

Dotted with vineyards and renowned restaurants making magic with indigenous ingredients, Mexican flavor profiles, and culinary techniques ranging from ancient to bleeding-edge, Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe has captured the hearts and wandering minds of local foodies. While a southerly jaunt for a weekend of epicurean exploration in “the Valle” is a pleasure, free time (not to mention reservations) can be hard to come by. Fortunately, an authentic taste of the region is now available at a local venue. Stitched into the literal and figurative foundation of Oceanside’s new Hyatt property, Mission Pacific Hotel, Valle is a modern-yet-cozy, low-lit den outfitted with art and design touches honoring its namesake locale. Yet, the key tie to the region is chef Roberto Alcocer, a native of Ensenada who trained in Michelin-starred kitchens before opening the Valle’s Malva to great acclaim in 2014, followed by a pair of eateries in Mexico City. 

Valle’s Chef Roberto Alcocer
Valle’s Chef Roberto Alcocer

Alcocer’s aim with his new spot is to showcase the food and beverage innovation occurring in his beloved Valle care of customizable tasting menus. Guests may choose one dish each from a quartet of options for courses primeros through cuartos for $95 per person. In addition to being inventive in conception and lovely in composition, Alcocer’s plates are substantial, something of a rarity with tasting menus. This allows diners to not only get their fill, but also take time to grasp and savor Alcocer’s intentions on their palate. It’s something staffers with encyclopedic knowledge of the menu provide instructions on, advising guests to get every element of a dish in one bite rather than sample each component on its own. Valle’s dishes are constructed to be sum-of-their-parts creations.

Polar opposite first course standouts go by simple titles — tetela and trucha — though they’re anything but. The former is an upscale take on a quesadilla featuring warm house-made purple corn tortillas enveloping earthily funky Humboldt Fog. Salty mushrooms with an optional shaving of truffles ($20 for black, $30 for white) and a rich, spicy yet soothing sherry-based morita (chipotle) chile sauce make it downright craveable. Meanwhile, trucha presents pristine Snake River trout in coconut cream with finger lime caviar. It tastes like a vacation on a plate (even if the coconut overtakes an $18 California sea urchin add-on).

Pescado: Pelican harbor catch of the day, harissas, and micro vegetables
Pescado: Pelican harbor catch of the day, harissas, and micro vegetables

Alcocer’s creativity is on full display with a second course called choro. Named after a type of mussel, the dish is built to look like that bivalve. An oblong black shell made of squid ink and potato starch covers a filling of white wine-braised mussels and saffron potatoes given extra hits of salt from sea beans. It’s full-flavored, but the star of segundo curso is — surprisingly enough — a beet and goat cheese dish. A ubiquitous and often boring combo, Alcocer’s exploration of preparations and textures renders it relevant. Beets encased in masa and hoja santa (sacred leaf) oil to keep them moist and sweet are liberated tableside before joining pickled and slivered relatives and a rice chicharron made using tapioca and balsamic vinegar.

Valle’s Trucha: Snake River trout, uni, coconut pear, avocado, and chayote
Valle’s Trucha: Snake River trout, uni, coconut pear, avocado, and chayote

More playfulness shows up in a third course rabbit roulade augmenting the loin and skirt with prosciutto. That succulent creation is served beside creamy millet studded with mirepoix (carrot, onion, and celery) with baby radishes sprouting from it to convey Alcocer’s concept of rabbit served with rabbit food. On the simpler side, escolar caught within 40 miles of Valle is accompanied by sautéed fennel and a harissa duo that includes a verde variety made with green bell peppers.

Dessert is worth saving room for. While an Aztec’s saccharine dream, spiced (cardamom, cinnamon, anise) chocolate ganache with cacao crumble, chocolate ice cream, and edible gold leaf is tempting and delicious, the choice for those seeking something unique goes by the name “Bronzed.” The latter is served with an origami flower spritzed with the hotel’s signature scent, a concoction fashioned from bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and jasmine. That aromatic blend is the inspiration for the dessert, which combines chilled grapefruit foam, yogurt petals, and bee pollen into a confectionery orange blossom sculpture that tastes like Key lime pie (when eaten properly, of course, everything in one bite).

Taco de Conejo: Rabbit confit, carnitas style, cilantro, onion, avocado, ranchera sauce
Taco de Conejo: Rabbit confit, carnitas style, cilantro, onion, avocado, ranchera sauce

Bonus courses — multiple amuses, a board stocked with black-bean bread and tangy fermented black garlic butter before tercero curso, andmignardises— add to the variety of the dining experience, as do wine pairings ($49 add-on) featuring international selections including a number from the Valle and Alcocer’s private label. A tequila- and mezcal-heavy cocktail list and beer list stocked with Baja imports are thoughtful, tasty alternatives. Shareable platters (oysters, caviar, charcuterie, artisan cheeses) are also available.

With this gastronomic love letter to the charming land where he traces his roots, Alcocer has done something both noble and difficult: recreated the experience of visiting a culinarily forward eatery in the heart of the Valle from 200 miles away. 866.723.8906, valleoceanside.com


Golden Forks

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

Featured Photo Valle offers a taste of Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe wine region amid gorgeous Pacific Ocean views
Image Credits Photography by Vincent Knakal

Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.