The Experience Magazine was invited to Cafe Del Rey on Monday night to sample the prix fix menu for Restaurant Week 2016. The building is classy and clean and situated in one of the most primo spots in Marina Del Rey. Overlooking a vast sea of yachts and glorious palm trees and spectacular sunset skies, the ambiance of this restaurant already sets the tone for a delightful evening.
Christopher Shannon, the certified sommelier for Cafe Del Rey, seated us at a table by the window where we were able to enjoy the sunset as we perused the menu. He recommended two wines to begin our delectable journey. The first was a Comte Lafond 2014 Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France. It had a tart yet graceful character, a lovely white wine that was complemented by a slice of grilled goat cheese. His recommendation for red was a 2012 Starmont Pinot Noir from the Los Carneros area of the Napa Valley. The complex, yet jammy flavor was extremely drinkable on its own, yet could stand up to a hearty or spicy entree.
Three distinctly different appetizers were presented to us. The fried ricotta fritters were bold and enticing, topped with fried mushroom and egg and accented by an alluring romesco sauce. The shrimp tartare with shaved radish, Tabiko caviar, celery and caramel fish sauce was a unique and surprising combination of light flavors and crisp aromas. And finally, the Tuscan Kale salad with Concord raisins and toasted quinoa was a delicious surprise of bright seasonings and tender consistency. Each paired gracefully with both the white and the red wine selected by Christopher.
Our next course was a spicy, curry-inspired, cauliflower steak, matched with a vegan aioli, toasted pine nuts, sundried tomatoes and fresh herbs. This was offered as a vegan option in the entree section, but we were fortunate enough to sample the flavors as an addition to our starters.
Next we enjoyed three types of oysters presented on an impressive platter of ice. The Kushi oysters were light and briny, delicious with fresh grated horseradish and a squeeze of lemon. The Kumamoto oysters were mild yet flavorful. The larger and meatier Fannie Bay oysters were impressively succulent with a more robust flavor.
As a surprise, sous chef, Eduardo Osorio, prepared a spectacular sampler plate of roasted main lobster, Argentinian shrimp, hedgehog and abalone mushrooms with a lemon caper sauce. The combination of seafood flavors and mushrooms were highlighted by the lemon caper sauce, providing a unique and masterful tasting experience.
As the only sustainable seafood restaurant on the marina adhering to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, Cafe Del Rey proudly presented the main attraction of Hawaiian, troll-caught sword fish in a charred Romaine salsa verde. The delicate fish was intensified by the spicy green sauce. A great combination of flavors and a true testament to executive chef, Adrian Velo’s high standards and phenomenal culinary vision.
To end our evening, sous chef Eduardo Osorio brought us a sampling of three delectable desserts. A tangy meyer lemon tart with Whipped creme fraiche and candied lemons, Traditional apple pie with whipped creme and tiny, vanilla meringue drops, and a chocolate walnut fudge bar. The lemon tart was zesty and sweet with the perfect amount of creaminess. The apple pie would have made mom proud, with a soft sprinkling of cinnamon to accent the apple essence, and the chocolate walnut bars were nutty and rich, with the perfect amount of sweetness.
Christopher paired the desserts with a Grappa-like wine from the vineyard owned by Steven Soderbergh and a light, white port that was sweet and refreshing.
Experience Magazine’s dining adventure at Cafe Del Rey was not only visually enchanting but extraordinarily delicious. A definite stop for locals and visitors from around the world.