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Life Under a New Captain at The Shores


She chugged along unchanged for quite some time, but over the past two years, the old girl’s been through a lot. No, it’s not a seafaring vessel we’re referring to, but rather a dot on La Jolla Shores’ sandy perimeter — The Shores Restaurant to be exact. For over eight years, the beachside eatery sailed along with chef de cuisine Augie Saucedo at its helm, putting out solid, world-inspired dishes utilizing fresh, seasonal ingredients from throughout Southern California. Then, he swam over to Sycuan Golf and Tennis Resort. But before jumping ship, he handed the reins over to a worthy successor, locally esteemed chef Amy DiBiase of Laurel and Roseville fame. Her cult fans followed her there for inspired California-meets-Mediterranean fare, but late last year she waded into the sunset to return to her kitchen of origin, Paradise Point’s Baleen.


Replacing a chef is a daunting task, but The Shores’ new captain looks to be in it for the long haul. Enter Percy Oani, a gastronome who comes aboard after tours of duty at Peohe’s and, most recently, Roy’s. Eight months in, he is starting to make his presence known, infusing touches of his personal style — a mix of classic technique with Asian and Pan-Asian influences — to a menu that has, for the longest time, mirrored that of one of San Diego’s finest toques, Bernard Guillas.


Historically, one of the key draws to The Shores (aside from the incredible, unimpeded view of the ocean and daily Technicolor sunsets) has been the fact that Guillas — executive chef for this eatery and the namesake hotel that houses it as well as sister property the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club and its fine dining standout the Marine Room — has been the one lending heavy input and providing oversight of its menu development. Marine Room-style food at a much lower price point has made The Shores something of a best-kept secret that few residents of The Jewel have been willing to let the uninitiated in on. As such, it hasn’t garnered the attention of mainstream foodies.


But Oani hopes to change that, much in the way that he is changing The Shores’ bill of fare to reflect the seasons and his cooking heritage. Pan-roasted halibut is garnished with an array of tropical fruit and avocado, and served over sticky red rice packing a sweet coconut punch. That fish’s cheeks are panko-crusted, fried, and served with dill pesto, while salmon is similarly crispy and presented in a carrot and miso broth, and a red pepper-based broth provides formidable spice to a cioppino of yellowtail, mussels, and scallops.


Tangy citrus-marinated Laughing Bird shrimp (named for the farm from which they are sourced) in a sweet mango bath convey Oani’s sensibilities, but appetizers remain consistent with offerings from previous regimes. Baby beets with burrata and a crab cake with a vanilla almond sauce positively scream Guillas.


But the aforementioned chef isn’t the only Marine Room influence at The Shores. The restaurant also benefits from the interloping of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club sommelier Lisa Redwine, a five-year veteran of the company who started at The Shores and has gone on to be regarded as one of San Diego’s top wine experts. Order a glass of vino and find out why — over one of those beautiful sunsets. (858.456.0600, www.theshoresrestaurant.com)    Brandon Hernández


Photography by Vincent Knakal


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