Review: A Taste of Casual-Beach-Chic at Kitchen 1540

If you ask me about my favorite restaurants in San Diego, I’m probably going to surprise you. San Diego definitely has some great spots. But, I’m going to tell you to travel about twenty minutes north of the city to the coastal-chic town of Del Mar. There you will find the newly designed, casual-chic eatery, Kitchen 1540 nestled inside the elegant L’Auberge Del Mar Resort.

If I’m honest, which I always try to be, I was a little nervous about leaving my ocean front suite to travel up the coast to Del Mar for dinner. I tend to shy away from ‘typical resort restaurants’ and having been to the L’Auberge many years ago, I was unsure that this restaurant was going to be worth the trip. However, it came highly recommended and the resort completed a major $26 million dollar renovation in 2008, so I decided to give it a shot.

So off we went, up to the L’Auberge’s Kitchen 1540 , ready to see what all the fuss was about. Walking in to the hotel, I noticed the small sign that said ‘Invited Pets Welcome’ on the front of the hotel. As a pet-lover,  this stole my heart immediately. We walked through the lobby, filled with cocktail-sipping patrons listening to live music, and opened the glass doors that gently separate Kitchen 1540 from the hotel. We were greeted by a genuinely happy hostess and seated. Immediately we felt the “at-home” atmosphere, one that can only be described as casual-beach-chic. It seems as whether you’re donning the the latest DVF dress or a simple white tee, jeans and flip-flops, you’ll be welcomed. Another thing I noticed was that our table offered multiple views. We could gaze at indoor fireplace, flirt with the outdoor fire pit, perfect for cocktails with friends or dessert sharing with your significant other or, watch the organized chaos of open-kitchen. This restaurant seems to be all things to all people- a chameleon of sorts. Romantic? Definitely. Chic? Perfectly. Casual? Yep.

Once seated, we were immediately greeted by the waitstaff, ready to explain the menu and offer cocktail choices. The menu itself is a masterpiece. It’s obvious that each item that was added to the menu, was carefully chosen to showcase only the freshest local, in season ingredients. The hardest part of this meal was making the choice of what to try. With options like bison tartar, roasted pumpkin risotto and Tai snapper, it was impossible to go wrong.

For us, the perfect way to begin our meal was with their famous, meat and cheese board which offers a collection of various international forms of cured meat and cheeses of only the highest quality. Then, on to a simple, yet incredibly tasty organic green salad, dressed perfectly to exaggerate the taste of so-cal freshness. As I ate my salad, I was eying the dishes that passed my table on the way to their final destination, wondering if our choices of the lamb loin with faro and the beef tenderloin were going to taste as amazing as these dishes looked. Then, ours arrived. My lamb was tender and cooked to perfect. The faro balanced the dish and the spiced pepper jam offered amazing flavor. But it was my husband’s plate that stole the show. This was hands down the best beef tenderloin that I have ever tasted in my life. It was melt-in-your-mouth magical! Each bite tasted like silk. It was truly a work of art! Dessert was offered last and although I had no room in my belly, I managed to indulge in a few bites of moist, decadent Red Velvet Cake.

I’m not sure if it’s the the warm welcome of the hostess, the engaging general manager, the knowledgeable waitstaff, the ridiculously perfect food, the cozy fire pit or just how it all seemed to effortlessly work together- that made Kitchen 1540 ascend to the top of my list. From the modern, yet friendly decor, to the seasonal menu with the perfect amount of choices, this restaurant oozes the perfect blend of simple elegance and casual-beach-chic. A MUST-DO if you’re ever in San Diego!


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