The Grand Del Mar, San Diego (Brad A. Johnson)
When the Grand Del Mar opened in San Diego a few years ago, I didn’t love it. I thought everything felt too contrived, too set-designed, too gold-plated. Too much luxury, everywhere, over-the-top. However now that the resort has had some time to settle in and mature, I love it! Everything now makes sense. The landscaping has grown in beautifully. The staff doesn’t miss a beat. The fabrics and leathers that once felt so pristine have been wrinkled just so. There’s a beautiful patina that suggests a certain longevity and grace. And those gold-plated bathroom faucets, thank god, aren’t so shiny any more.
Guest room terrace; hotel entrance; suite bedroom; lobby lounge (Brad A. Johnson)
The one thing about this resort that I actually loved from Day One was its fine dining restaurant, Addison. It was good then. It’s even better now. It’s a true destination restaurant, set apart from the hotel in a free-standing structure just up the hill. The fireplace is roaring in the lounge. Bartenders are shaking cocktails in the bar. Lights from the wine cellar cast a soft upon the dining room. Elegantly dressed waiters glide around the room without making sounds. And the chef? William Bradley is easily one of the finest chefs working in California today. His coddled farm egg with caviar is a throwback to vintage Paris. Sea bass becomes ceviche in a broth of Thai-style green curry and cucumbers sliced so thin they’re translucent. Dumplings as light as air are filled with sweet king crab and a hint of orange, a fleck of basil. Bradley matches black truffles and crimini mushrooms with an insanely handsome slice of duck. Beets. Caramelized endive. We’ve gone off menu, and I’ve lost track of what I’ve eaten. I remember Champagne, lots of it, the expensive kind, followed by Spanish whites and French Burgundies. A peanut butter terrine with amaretto ice cream and honey anglaise…
At Addison: Coddled farm egg with caviar; the lounge; the bar; the duck with truffles; the dining room; Champagne. (Brad A. Johnson)