The Marine Room – Amazing Cuisine and Amazing Setting in La Lolla

You have a slight sense of vertigo initially as you settle into your seats. Your window side table is only a foot away from the Pacific Ocean. Timed properly, you can watch the tide come in, as the waves rise and begin crashing off the windows. The stunning setting is not the only reason to plan a visit to The Marine Room, the cuisine is equally amazing.

The history of the venue stretches back to 1916 when a four bedroom inn was built on the site. Over time, The Marine Room was eventually established. Opened on May 29, 1941, the menu featured fresh lobster for $1.35 and martinis for 35 cents. In the ensuing decades, the restaurant understandably established itself as a destination of choice. The Marine Room has garnered myriad awards for Most Romantic, Best Service, Best French and Best View; and has been on Open Table’s “100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America” list since 2011.

We arrived before sunset, so we were able to watch the sky grow darker as the waves came higher. Deft exterior lighting ensured we missed none of the churning waves seemingly within reach.

Diego, our supremely efficient server, steered us to starters of organic mushroom cocotte served warm (fresh bamboo shoot, kabocha gnocchi, gouda, truffle red lillet) and a marvelous watermelon and prosciutto salad. The latter was served cold and included Hungarian feta cheese, pistachios, microgreens and a 50 year sherry aspic. Who knew such an eclectic collection of flavors and textures would work so well?

Undoubtedly, Executive Chef Bernard Guillas knew full well. He came out later during our meal to chat about his background and culinary philosophy. We connected unexpectedly over parallel times growing up in Morocco, and he described his upbringing around food purveyors.

Our wine pairings were well-selected by Diego. With our starters he brought a surprisingly crisp Weinguter Wegeler Reisling and Louis Bouillt Brut rose, the latter balancing the mushroom cocotte very nicely. For the main courses, Diego proposed Chardonnay Bourgone Pascal Clement and from Oregon the Anne Amie Two Estates Pinot Noir. The deep red Pinot Noir fit perfectly well with the Togarashi sesame spiced ahi tuna, which was prepared elegantly with sticky black rice, avocado, mango and a mysteriously appealing sake hibiscus infusion. The cool tuna was tender, balanced intriguingly with the textures of the rice and sesame.

Togarashi sesame spiced ahi tuna

herbes de Provence lobster tail

But the hit of the evening was my wife’s herbes de Provence lobster tail. The coastal upbringing of Chef Guillas in Brittany was evident in the dish, which featured aged Emmental polenta, boudin blanc, melon and pineau des charentes. The lobster was baked perfectly, served on the shell, and was as tender as any lobster I have tasted. We lingered over our mains, and became further mesmerized at the juxtaposition of the waves’ turmoil oustide and the culinary bliss inside.

The dining room features windows on two sides, and mirrors on the back walls, providing a surrounding sense of the nautical location.

low tide

Chef Guillas explained the balance he strives to attain in keeping traditional favorites on the menu (farm elk medallions) and introducing new dishes. By evolving the menu monthly (rather than daily or weekly) he is able to leverage the abundance of fresh product available locally and the need to keep regular patrons satisfied with their favorites.

When I look out the windows of the Marine Room, I see my favorite Monet and Manet paintings. Like any other artist, I try to translate that beauty into impressionistic masterpieces on the plates that come out of our kitchen. – Chef Guillas

As we contemplated our dessert choices, Diego eased our conundrum of choices by suggesting the Royal Kahuna macadamia crème brûlée (with orange confit, shortbread and turbinado crunch). We also enjoyed the organic lavender lemon cake, accompanied by candied ginger sesame halvah gelato. The accompanying wines were a 10 year old Ferreira Tawny Port and a refreshing Inniskillin ice wine from Canada.

Our leisurely evening lasted long enough to see the tide begin to roll out. As with the best meals, all senses were addressed. It is evident that The Marine Room’s menu is definitely not relying on the spectacle of the room.











Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.