REVIEW: Kitchen 1540
The newly remodeled L’auberge Del Mar hotel is truly lovely, with its grand lounging areas, fireplaces galore and beautiful beachfront location. New to its grounds is the eloquent tastefully chic Kitchen 1540 restaurant. Just off the main entrance, Kitchen 1540 greets you immediately with smiling faces and fabulous aromas. Somehow you know you’re in for a good time.
The venue itself is actually modestly austere but that turns out to be part of the charm. The décor is simplistic. High angled ceilings compete with warming fireplaces to warm your soul (try to get a table by the fire if you can). Light wood dominates the booths and tables creating a soft, airy feel. Smooth, easy flowing jazz surrounds you and adds to the fun natured comfort of the establishment. But what grabs your attention without a doubt is the open air kitchen is the centerpiece of the venue.
We’ve seen many an open kitchen in our day but none that so conspiringly invites you to be a culinary voyeur. On a blind date or facing an awkward silence in the conversation, the kitchen gives you a conversation starter. The staff is in constant motion, preparing, serving, clearing, pouring….there never seems to be a lull watching them at work (though maybe more at play in that they all seemed to be enjoying themselves).
We were told to expect high-end ingredients and specialties served in a casual dining experience. Kitchen 1540 pulled it off quite effortlessly.
It had been a long time since lunch so these foodies were ready to eat! We kicked off the evening with the Grilled Baby Octopus (black eyed peas, shishito peppers, green olives) and the Organic Green Salad (salad pears, marcona almonds, Humboldt Fog cheese, sherry vinaigrette). The octopus was an unexpected treasure of a dish. Slow cooked to perfection, the meat was incredibly tender, not an ounce of chewiness to it at all. If you were being blind tested you probably wouldn’t have even known it was octopus. The interesting blend of the black eyed peas and olives made for a truly unique dish. The salad was fresh and the dressing crisply flavorful. The large chunks of Humboldt Fog were a nice touch and my dining companion couldn’t keep his hands off!
For our entree we relished the Dry Aged NY Strip (with potato-squash gratin and Madeira reduction) and the Seafood Stew (roasted monkfish, lobster, shrimp, kaffir, and mussels) with sides of Roasted Root Vegetables and 1540 Fries. The steak came nestled on a bed of squash with carrots and was a fine thick cut. Though ordered medium the steak came out unevenly cooked but the tenderness and seasonings were dead on perfect. The crispy, yummy generous plate of fries was a tad salty but as you made your way down the bowl it leveled off. The succulent stew was another masterpiece. Large chunks of seafood created a truly savory dish that was swimming in flavor and with a distinctive yet subtle Thai seasoning. The vegetables served their purpose of a healthy companion dish.
Though we initially resisted having dessert, we were swayed when we saw the Red Velvet Cake (with cream cheese, candied beets and cocoa nib streusel) as an option. Unfortunately the cake was a bit bland and dry, not the usual rich consistency you normally expect with a velvet cake.
That said, our experience a Kitchen 1540 was a smashing success. Between the easy vibe of the venue and the friendly, knowledgeable bustling staff (who were engaging and attentive but never obtrusive) we had a great dining experience. Love the t-shirts on the runners and bussers – the backs had random foodie quotes, all different and they were happy to turn around to be read. Kitchen 1540 had great food, great service and a great venue. It doesn’t get much better than that. Enjoy!
The Good – The restaurant has a great vibe, a nice balance between upscale and casual.
The Bad – Okay so not the restaurants fault but the L’Auberge valet used the radio of our car and switched to a rap station – they shouldn’t be touching the controls of anyone’s vehicle.
- City: Del Mar, CA 92014
- Phone: 858-793-6460
- Name: Kitchen 1540
- Address: 1540 Camino Del Mar