Dec. 19 2011 07:02 PM

No mediocre chops at this hotel eatery

amayadelmar
Rotisserie pork chop
Photo by Marie Tran-McCaslin

Pork chops. Hotel restaurants. In my world, those things usually haven't been great. Every time I've ordered pork chops, they've been dry and overcooked. Hotel restaurants have been overpriced and mediocre. Then again, it's just my experience, so maybe I'm cursed.

This hex was broken at the Grand Del Mar's Amaya. Amaya shares real estate with Addison, one of San Diego's premier fine-dining destinations; however, Amaya is a great destination in its own right. Set in the gorgeous hotel, Amaya shares the luxuriously opulent décor. Yet, despite the formal setting, it has a relaxed air about it. It's fit for families or girls' nights out and has a cozy intimacy that's perfect for a date night.

The food is excellent. Starters include a beautiful butternut squash soup that's sweet without being cloying, rich with fall spices without being overdone; the squash's flavor has been enhanced rather than covered. The crispy branzini and seared sea bass are outstanding fish dishes, while the duck breast is moist and flavorful on a bed of red rice risotto.

While I have yet to encounter a bad dish at Amaya, all of the great dishes I've had are outdone by the center-cut rotisserie pork chop. One thick slice is bone-in, a layer of perfectly seared fat circling halfway around, and served with a bit of potato hash. Knives sink into the pork like it's made of butter. Cut a piece from the slice, put a little potato hash on it and dunk it in the accompanying sauce for a little bite of perfection.

The desserts are also first-rate, but like the pork chop, perfection is found in the lemon meringue ice-cream pie—lemon curd ice cream served on a classic graham-cracker crust and topped with toasted meringue. Served with a huckleberry reduction and sticks of crispy meringue, it's sunshine on a plate.

Gone are my days of bad pork chops and hotel restaurants. Apparently, curses can be broken.



Write to marietm@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Marie blogs at meanderingeats.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @MeanderingEats.

Calendar

  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • The former local boy and creator of the highly influential blog, Advanced Style, will be signing and discussing his third book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, which features inspiring pictures and stories...
  • C.J. Chenier and Bonsoir Catin headline this annual Cajun inspired festival. Also enjoy 10,000 pounds of crawfish, dancing and cooking demonstrations. Held at Spanish Landing Park, across from the...
  • A Cinco de Mayo party featuring $2 tacos, cocktails and live music from Bostich+Fussible, Javiera Mena and Gepe
  • A spoken word showcase hosted by English instructor Karla Cordero and her City College students. There will also be a special reading from poet Mercedez Holtry, as well as an art and photography show....
  • Widely known as host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and for his role in the Showtime dramedy Weeds, Kevin Nealon brings his unique humor back to the stand-up stage
  • New works from over a dozen UCSD undergraduate students. Participating artists include Charity Algarme, Richard Lin, Joseph Maas, Ignatius Nguyen, and more
  • This video art exhibition from UCSD MFA candidate Stefani Byrd features two installations that explore the themes of breath, mediation, and the nature of time. Takes place in the VAF Performance Space,...
See all events on Thursday, May 5