ISO: Romantic Restaurant in Carlsbad (near Four Seasons hotel)
Im surprising my wife for her birthday by staying at the Four Seasons in Carlsbad this friday and I was wondering which restaurants can you guys recommend? I totally have no clue as this is my first time heading over to that direction and input is totally appreciated.
We've had a timeshare in North San Diego County for a number of years, so we've tried all kinds of places. If you don't mind a short drive inland (maybe 20-30 minutes), I suggest that you get well away from the Del Mar area and try one of two little gems in Escondido. This is a very unconventional suggestion, but maybe it willl appeal.
The two places I recommend are:
First and most important, I think your wife will really appreciate the Four Seasons Aviara -- it is a wonderful property, very elegant with gorgeous floral displays, and very nice views of the golf course. The casual cafe there with an outside patio will be fine for a breakfast or lunch.
For an upscale "romantic" restaurant, my recommendation would be Pamplemousse in Del Mar. It is just to the coast side off the 5 freeway about a half-dozen exits south of Aviara Parkway, on the north side of Via de la Valle. Very excellent food, good service, a smallish place, and a bit darker with a lot of curtains and window dressings -- I'd ask for a booth towards the back and let them know it is a special occasion. I had a wonderful, thick perfectly charred pork chop there a couple of years ago that I still remember.
A lot of reviewers and posters on this board have ranked Market as the best or at least among the best in the San Diego area these days. They offer a four-course price fixe meal with at least a couple of choices per course that is great. A brighter room with white tablecloths and more of a buzz -- make sure you are seated in the main dining room or even the enclosed patio and not the dark, fairly empty no-man's land of the bar and sushi bar. Also in Del Mar off Via de la Valle, but about a mile or so to the inland side where El Camino Real makes a couple of 90-degree turns.
Finally, I was a big fan of Savory when it first opened a few years ago. I liked the look, with elements of a French bistro (including some copper serving pots) but with modern NYC-style lighting. Great value when it began, with my favorite pepper-crusted ribeye with a potato gratin for less than $20, but prices have risen consistently to the point where they won't list them on their website menu -- a pet peeve of mine. (I hope that Chris is correct above that they lowered their prices a bit.) More casual than either of the other two, but also closer -- in a minimall anchored by a bank on the inland side of El Camino Real, a couple miles or so south of Aviara Parkway.
Two warnings: First, I don't know when the Del Mar racing season starts. If it has begun, even your hotel's concierge might have a very difficult time getting you into either Pamplemousse or Market on a Friday evening. Second, traffic going south on the 5 on a Friday evening can be horrendous, with all of the weekenders heading towards La Jolla or San Diego, and if the track is letting out there will be a huge bottleneck there. Unless you are dining late -- after 7:30 -- you may want to take El Camino Real south as far as you can instead of the freeway. It will be crowded, slow, and frustrating, but more predictable.
Finally, if you can't get in anywhere else, you can have a back-up at Tuscany, which is a freestanding restaurant in the Von's shopping center with the movie theaters on the S/W corner of Aviara Parkway and El Camino Real, probably less than a mile from the hotel. Good, solid Italian food. Make sure to ask for a table in one of the dining rooms that does not have the noisy bar.
Based on your previous posts I am assuming you are coming from LA. So I would skip Vivace, over wrought, huge portions, inferior Italian food. You won't feel romantic afterward, just full and tired!
Two great family run restaurants are within fifteen minutes of The Four Seasons. Kaito Sushi and Yumeya sake house. Both are small and offer something unique for our area. The sushi at Kaito can compare with some of the best in LA imo if you are into traditional style. If you like sake and sochu, Yumeya is the place, they have at least 30 sake's by the glass. If Japanese isn't your thing, El Q'ero for pricey South American/Peruvian food in Encinitas. If you do El Q'ero, try to get a table by the wall or window. Reservations are a must at all of the above, note that Yumeya does not take reservations on Fridays and Saturdays.
Thread on Yumeya:
Thread on Kaito
Thread on Qero
Good to know about Vivace, I have not been but it has recieved good recs on the board.
Just did a search on the California boards for Vivace and exept for one bad service issue someone had it seems to be well thought of, and is touted as romantic, like I said I have not been so you may want to research it yourself.
Kaito is very good traditional sushi but not a romantic setting.
The Italian restaurant at the four seasons itself is nice "Vivace" I believe.
Close by is Savory, nice bistro, they just revamped thier menu and lowered the prices a bit (I never thought they were expensive but some do) You can do three courses with wine pairing for $66.
Thats all I got thats that close without driving into Del Mar or Solana Beach.