The Del’s Crown Jewel
Posted on October 1, 2018
When chef turnover occurs at a high-profile restaurant, epicureans tend to clutch their napkins, bracing for a potential letdown. In the case of 1500 Ocean’s toque shift a year ago, any such panic was quickly assuaged by the appointment of veteran gourmand Patrick Ponsaty. A member of the elite Maître Cuisiners de France master chef society and a much-celebrated figure on the San Diego restaurant scene, Ponsaty wasted no time making the Hotel Del Coronado’s beachfront white linen his own through expert classic technique, sterling flavor combinations, and inventive plating.
Ponsaty’s affinity and skill where seafood is concerned play well. Nearly three-fourths of the menu features aquatic gems such as Pacific opah served crudo-style in cucumber curry broth with scallop “chicharonnes,” tender calamari steak served over squid-ink risotto with sweet piquillo pepper relish (a recipe Ponsaty contributed to the Master Chefs of France Cookbook), and orange-glazed Icelandic salmon in a smoked salmon consommé with forbidden rice. Even a veal loin entree is punched up with lobster stuffing as well as forest mushrooms and an orange blossom veal reduction.
Chef Ponsaty also makes brilliant use of the Del’s on-property herb and vegetable garden as evidenced by a pair of earthy, vegetarian dishes. The “Garden of Ellipsis” dresses seasonal greens and edible flowers in a poignant sherry vinaigrette, while “Spring Garden” takes ultra-fresh ingredients — tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, green garlic — and brings them to new, flavorful heights. And there’s plenty for carnivores, including filet mignon, rack of lamb, and Szechuan pepper-crusted duck breast over polenta with a tart cherry gastrique.
The next chapter of the gastronomic jewel in this iconic hotel’s crown is thriving one year in. On a scale of one to ten, it comes in at roughly 1500, thanks to a master chef working hard to live up to that lofty designation. 619.522.8100, hoteldel.com Brandon Hernández