A.R. Valentien at the Lodge at Torrey Pines is the second stop on The Monster’s abbreviated culinary tour of San Diego. And wherein Nine-Ten is immediately disappointing A.R. Valentien is immensely impressive.
Inside the gorgeous hotel sits this classy affair. High, comfortable booths sit amidst the elegant room with beautiful floral arrangements adorning each table. The Craftsman room exudes class and the service proves to be it’s equal.
It’s a chilly day so The Monster opts to sit inside but there is also a lovely patio where one can dine with views of the renowned golf course and ocean.
Appetizers include a charcuterie plate with duck and pistachio terrine, potted shortribs, chicken liver pate and homemade pickled vegetables and mustards or a roasted beet, frisee, crispy shallot goat cheese ravioli with pine nuts and balsamic vinaigrette as examples.
Butter poached lobster, celery and celery root salad, tarragon creme fraiche with Melba toast is the appetizer for The Monster and it is marvelous. The lobster is supremely sweat and the salad adds texture and heft to the starter.
For a main course you may choose a grilled hangar steak, braised escarole and marinated mushrooms or roasted duck breast, frisee, caramelized fennel and homemade pickled carrots.
Roasted swordfish with roasted cauliflower, gribiche is one entree. Delightful flavors and perfectly prepared fish.
Roasted Alaskan halibut with English peas, pea tendrils and herbs is the other call for The Monster and it is equally divine.
As little as The Monster cares for Nine-Ten is as much as he admires A.R. Valentien. And it is proven as a patron at another table begs off the bread because she is gluten free. Five minutes later hot gluten-free biscuits are delivered to the table. Pure class.
For dessert, pistachio encrusted truffles. Awesome.
Why go? You know the difference.
Monster rating: 4½/5 Monsters
11480 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037