Inspired by the seemingly endless combinations of tastes and smells that create flavors we love, Flavor Del Mar captures the essence of uncomplicated cuisine. The menu prizes quality and simplicity above the overwrought styling of presentation and taste that is found all too often these days. Chef Brian Redzikowski expresses his keen eye for detail, and artful enthusiasm on every plate. Specialties like the Crispy Pork Belly and the Basil Crusted Local Bass introduce guests to newly interpreted flavor components that complement familiar elements on the plate, and with the stunning Del Mar coastline as a backdrop, guests are sure to gain a unique appreciation for the Flavor dining experience.Read More ...
Flavor Del Mar sits atop Del Mar Plaza overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I arrive and park in the parking structure below Del Mar Plaza, which offers two hours of free parking with parking validation. We walk upstairs to the high-end shopping mall that houses fashionable clothing stores and fine dining restaurants. As me and my guest approach Flavor Del Mar, I notice the brownstone finish on the exterior and bright white sign demarcating Flavor Del Mar. Upon entering through the clear glass doors of the restaurant, my guest and I receive a warm greeting from the hostess. As we walk past the bar I take in the cool, stylish surroundings.
The interior is made up of muted blues and pale green accents, creating a classic but modern interior inspired by the restaurant’s coastal location. The restaurant is sectioned into three distinct dining areas: an enclosed heated patio, indoor, and lounge seating. The patio consists of meticulously arranged dark wood square tables with white metal chairs, along with light blue cushions and banquette seating on the northern end of the patio. Indoor seating includes an intimate corridor lined with tables set against dark wood framed windows. The lounge features a white marble top bar, located across from the entrance, harboring a brilliant sea-blue backsplash that lights up at night, mirroring the majestic ocean view; dark wood high tables surrounded by raised olive green upholstered chairs are also placed adjacent to the bar. As we enter the enclosed patio I am instantly struck by the bird’s eye sunset view of the Pacific Ocean and the simple, elegant décor set to a brownstone rock fireplace whose warm flames create an ambience of soft light and cozy warmth.
As we arrive at the table I am pleasantly surprised to see a complimentary glass of Nino Franco Prosecco sparkling white wine beckoning us to the table. Flavor Del Mar boasts an extensive wine list offering an array of red and white wines available by the glass or by the bottle from a variety of domestic and European regions including Italy, Spain, and Germany at a cost ranging from $8.00 and $15.00 per glass.
The table has a dark wood finish with banquette seating on one side and pale blue upholstered chairs on the opposing side, offering a stylish yet comfortable spot to enjoy our meal. Alternative rock music plays softly in the background setting a laid back, casual tone to the evening despite the beautiful setting and polished service. Although Restaurant Week is in full swing and the restaurant is already filling up, our servers are flawless in their timing and are exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. I applaud the service that we received the entire night— it made the dining experience that much more pleasant.
The Manager, Jerome, joins us at the beginning of the meal to welcome us to the restaurant. I observe that throughout the evening Jerome seeks to greet each table personally to ensure that patrons are enjoying their meal. This commitment to quality and passion for perfection is evident in the food and infused in every dish we sample.
I also have the delight of speaking with the Executive Chef Jason Maitland, whose passion for fresh, local, and seasonal produce and Old World foods is evident on the diverse lunch and dinner menus that challenge patrons to get in touch with their inner foodie. Chef Maitland amps up the usual soup and salad lunch fare by offering unique dishes such as the Grilled Jidori Chicken and Mushroom with smoked brie, watercress, and truffle aioli on a buttermilk bun or the Prime Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with arugula, haricots verts (green beans), quail egg, crispy capers, and red wine vinaigrette. For dinner, the menu offers a decidedly sophisticated transition from lunch with items like the Duck Leg Confit Cassoulet with pork belly, short rib, house-made sausage, cranberry beans, and foie gras butter and the Crispy Skin Barramundi with tarragon-potato gnocchi, savoy spinach, lemon-caper brown butter, and citrus salad. An assorted mix of fusion flavors with surf and turf makes for a dinner menu that takes a dive on the wild side of Californian cuisine.
We are offered a special selection based on the Chef’s choosing. While waiting for the first appetizer I sip my wine and enjoy the slight carbonation tickle my throat as its sweet flavor fills my senses. No sooner do I take my first sip of wine than the amuse bouche course is served consisting of Flavor’s signature bread, butter, and kosher salt plate. The presentation transcends the typical bread basket. The golden brown loaf of bread paired with an array of colors indicating the different flavored salts fuses into an exotic display of color. With a yeasty aroma and fresh-from-the-oven flavor, the bread is fresh and warm, literally melting in your mouth. Each salt represents its own unique flavor ranging from pomegranate to oregano, boasting bold taste to match the bold color. The salts provide an eclectic alternative to butter with the magenta pomegranate salt offering subtle fruitiness while the green oregano salt adds rusticity when paired with the bread. As I finish my last oregano-infused bite of warm bread, the waiter appears with our first appetizer.
The first appetizer served is the Chino Farms Kabocha Squash Soup with braised chestnuts, anise crème fraiche and tangerine oil. The sweetness of the squash is balanced by the anise crème fraiche, making it rich without being heavy. The tangerine oil adds a subtle, zesty aftertaste to every bite and the chestnuts provide a departure in texture, adding crunch to the dish while complementing the flavor of the squash. The soup settles the stomach and sets the stage for the next course.
The server presents the D’Anjou Pears and Speck Americano Ham with endive petite arugula, truffle tremor goat cheese, and walnuts. The salad is bursting with color from the green skin and white fruit of the pear, rich red of the ham, and the black marbled goat cheese. The pears add a note of sweetness and the walnuts add a nice buttery flavor, while the truffle tremor goat cheese provides creaminess with a subtle but distinct earthiness that only truffle can provide. The star of the salad is the Speck Americano Ham that adds a pop of salty flavor to finish off a salad that is balanced in both flavor and texture.
The Tartare of Roasted Local Beets with arugula pesto, chevre mousse, shaved fennel salad, and sherry vinaigrette offers a light and juicy distinction to the rich saltiness of the previous dish. The beets are presented front and center on the dish, showcasing their precise preparation while the shaved fennel salad is placed gracefully to one side of the tartare creating a striking duo of color. The shaved fennel salad contributes just a touch of bitterness. Infusing a garlicky punch to the dish, the arugula pesto is an unexpected but delightful addition to the dish. The sherry vinaigrette ties the variety of flavors together to create a new, vibrant spin on your typical beet salad.
Riding high on a cloud of delicious flavors and textures, the Hawaiian Ahi Tartare with yuzu aioli, salt cured cucumbers, black garlic, and ghost chili oil arrives. As I bite into the fresh Ahi, the smooth fish melts on the tongue while the black garlic provides pungent sweetness. The ghost chili oil adds heat to the dish and is balanced by the crunchy cucumber, which instantly cleanses my taste buds while adding texture. This appetizer invigorates the brain with its multidimensional flavor and delicate texture.
I then have the pleasure of tasting the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with artichoke-Piquillo pepper relish, truffle vinaigrette, and shaved fennel-citrus salad. The presentation alone blows me away by the delicate, crispy exterior if the gnudi housing the ricotta cheese set to the colorful mix of artichoke-Piquillo relish that offers a Mediterranean twist on the tasting. A crunchy exterior and velvety ricotta interior keeps the gnudi airy and light; providing a savory richness. The relish mirrors the simplicity of the ricotta but contributes a hint of spice from the peppers, creating a balanced dish that makes for a satisfying appetizer.
Primed for the main course tastings, my eyes light up as the Basil Crusted Local Bass is brought to the table. The fish is served alongside marble potatoes, haricots verts (green beans), olives, sweet pepper caponata, and a poached egg. The fish truly tastes fresh and is cooked just right to give it a moist texture. The basil seasoning adds a slight bite to the fish while the caponata creates a sweet and satisfying contrast. I poke the poached egg with my fork and let the egg yolk pool next to my fish. Informed by the waiter that the fish is meant to be eaten with the yolk, I comply and dip the fish in the yolk. I am intrigued at the eclectic mix of flavors and enjoy the added creaminess from the yolk. This dish keeps my palate on its toes leaving me satisfied; though, I can’t help but wait in anticipation for the next creation.
Moving from the sea to inland delicacies, the Marinated Prime Hanger Steak with Yukon gold potato puree, roasted Chino Farms baby vegetables, and Maytag blue cheese-Worcestershire mousse is the essence of simple quality. The steak, prepared medium as requested, immediately melts in the mouth while the blue cheese-Worcestershire mousse adds a spicy after taste. The potatoes and vegetables taste fresh from the farm, adding rusticity to the dish. By keeping the side dishes simple and the sauces delicate but flavorful, the quality of each ingredient is appropriately highlighted. The delights continue as we are served another dish to quench any carnivorous craving.
The Braised Prime Beef Short Ribs with whipped Yukon gold potatoes, Chino Farms baby vegetables, and Maytag blue cheese offers an upscale version of the classic American favorite. The prime rib literally falls off the bone as you touch it—a harmonious duo of succulent and sweet that leaves you speechless as the delicious flavor wafts across your taste buds and fills your senses. The fresh vegetables, whipped potatoes, and prime rib make a dynamic trio that satisfies every expectation.
The tone of the meal changes to a distinctly Old-World feel with the Roasted Suckling Pig and House Made Sausage with smoked apple-potato puree, braised red cabbage, and ale mustard. The pig is roasted like premium barbecue with a tender slow-cooked flavor that screams of intricate and passionate preparation, while the house made sausage is luscious and savory. The smoked apple-potato puree has a distinctive texture and restrained sweetness that is the ideal backdrop to the pork, while the braised red cabbage plays off the muted flavors of the sausage. Both hearty and unusual, this is a tasty homage to Old World cuisine.
As our culinary tour of fish, red, and white meats comes to an end, we are offered refuge by the arrival of dessert. We are served two exquisite dishes-- The Mascarpone Mousse with cherry sorbet, seasonal fruit, and huckleberry gastrique and the Almond Financier with crème anglaise, vanilla bean ice cream, white chocolate, and berries. The mascarpone mousse is shaped exactly like a marshmallow and has a similar texture, but that is where the similarities end. The mascarpone mousse is a complex mix of textures that meld into an utterly smooth, decadent, and velvety dessert that has a hint of sweetness, while the cherry sorbet and huckleberry gastrique liven up the dish with a playful infusion of fruity flavor.
The Almond Financier looks and tastes as if it was imported from a French Patisserie; the interior is infused with delicious almond flavor while the exterior is crispy and browned fresh straight from the oven. The vanilla bean ice cream is a luxurious indulgence with a thick, custardy texture whereas the white chocolate and berries dress up the simple dish creating an upscale, deconstructed version of strawberry shortcake.
Flavor Del Mar offers cuisine akin to its name. Each dish is prepared to entice the tongue with vibrant flavors and diverse ingredients that reflect coastal cuisine at its finest. With good food and a killer view—I plan on watching many more sunsets at Flavor Del Mar.
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While visiting San Diego last week we ate every night (5) in Del Mar. Flavor Del Mar was by far the best of all available places to eat. We loved the very different menue and the wait staff was super helpful. We'll be back next time we're in town. Wayne Hall, Casa Grande, AZ
A truly enjoyable restaurant with service that will make you feel you spent the evening at the right place with excellent views and atmosphere. The Chef prepared a delicious meal that was truly a flavorful experience that was matched with a wine recommendation that suited it perfectly. Our special occasion was enjoyed and not intruded upon, yet gratiously reminded with a complimentary desert. My compliments to those who presented a wonderful evening. Dan & Joi
excellent food. excellent service. definitely coming back! gotta get more of those short ribs!
we had a wonderful lunch with a beautiful view of the ocean!!!
Flavor Del Mar offered a lovely selection of dishes for every appetite & taste. The wine list was varied without being ponderous. Our party of eight received prompt, well-timed service. The ambience was of quiet, informal sophistication. We look forward to our next visit!
The best new place in Del Mar! Highly recommend it. :)