With a new chef, the 80-year-old Marine Room in La Jolla spices things up

This year at La Jolla, The Marine Room restaurant marked two major milestones: its 80th birthday and the retirement of its famous French chef Bernard Guillas, who resigned in August after 27 years at the helm.

To honor its eight-decade past, the beachfront restaurant at La Jolla Shores has launched an anniversary menu that includes lobster bisque and Cesar de Guillas salad recipes, as well as retro-inspired dishes such as the Rib beef and a grasshopper sundae. But in a clear nod to the future, there’s a new executive chef in the kitchen, Mike Minor, who brings new flavors, ideas and presentations to the plate.

Mike Minor is the Executive Chef of The Marine Room and other restaurant properties at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

(The marine room)

Minor spent 30 years in Las Vegas, starting as a sous chef in a catering company in 1991. He rose through the ranks to executive chef at the upscale Border Grill restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino for 13 years. Along the way, he won several regional and national awards, appeared on several TV cooking shows, and ran his own Mexican-style barbecue food truck for three years.

Despite his success in Vegas, Minor said, he and his wife still had one thing on their to-do list. For 20 years, they dreamed of moving to San Diego. So when the COVID-19 pandemic shook the casino and restaurant industries last year, they decided it was time to take action.

On April 17, Minor, a new resident of Point Loma, joined the culinary team at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. A little over a month after Guillas left, Minor was promoted to head all of the club’s culinary operations, which includes the 160-seat Marine Room, the 200-seat Shores Restaurant, the club’s dining room. seating 100 and the club’s banquet program. . His first priority was to reinvent The Marine Room’s menu. When that is done, it will focus on the other locations.

While some Marine Room standards like the lobster bisque stay put, diners have likely noticed Minor’s influence on the food. Guillas’ specialty was French-inspired cuisine. Minor’s passion is seasonal regional ingredients and dishes, sustainable and humanely raised, presented with modern and whimsical plating techniques. He is passionate about Mexican and Latin American cuisine, and many of his new dishes are infused with peppers, spices, and ingredients native to Mexico’s Baja, Oaxaca, and Michoacán regions, as well as Central and South America. Peru.

An example of this marriage of contemporary technique, whimsical local ingredients and flavors from the south of the border is the signature Minor’s Tuna Tartare Cones, an appetizer of raw yellowtail tuna, cubed and mixed with a serrano-soy glaze. , served in a mini gold leaf. -wafer cones wrapped and garnished with beluga caviar. It alternates the content of the cones between locally caught tuna, salmon and uni ($ 30 for four cones).

Chef Mike Minor's Uni Tartare cones at the Marine Room in La Jolla.

Chef Mike Minor’s Uni Tartare cones at the Marine Room in La Jolla.

(The marine room)

Minor also introduced a premium, dry-aged New York steak from Creekstone Farms, with an Oaxacan spice demi-glace ($ 85). There’s also a new hamachi crudo dish with yuzu pearls and a coconut aguachile sauce ($ 24). Another dish in development is a salpicón, a chilled Spanish and Central American meat salad that Minor makes with poached lobster, mint leaves, fried tortilla strips, Fresno peppers, carrots and red onions.

One of Minor’s favorite dishes he brought back from Las Vegas is an appetizer he calls the Perfect Egg ($ 20). Served on a “nest” of fried potatoes sprinkled with sprigs of thyme and rosemary, it is an eggshell garnished with layers of corn soup, a vacuum-poached egg yolk and an egg white mousse, topped with more eggs (beluga caviar). It’s served with teaspoons and Minor recommends mixing the delicately flavored contents together before taking it for a bite.

Minor said he’s had a great time since moving to La Jolla, met long-time customers and got to know his fellow chefs, who collaborate on an ever-changing menu.

“What I’m so proud of is that The Marine Room isn’t about just one chef, it’s me and my team together… creating a really great experience,” Minor said. “They are delighted to have a say in the menu and to be able to add style to it as well. We want to create a fun and unique meal for you, something you’ve never had.

Waves break at high tide at The Marine Room in La Jolla Shores.

Waves break at high tide at The Marine Room in La Jolla Shores.

(Renée Comeau)

History of the marine room

The Grand Opening of the Marine Room took place on May 29, 1941, inside the former Spindrift Inn, a four-bedroom roadside inn and restaurant built in 1916 on what was once Long Beach. (now La Jolla Shores). The Marine Room was owned and developed by William Scripps Kellogg, whose family also purchased the adjoining La Jolla Beach & Yacht Club, which later became the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

When The Marine Room opened, it served Newburg lobster for $ 1.35, rainbow trout almond for $ 1.25, and martinis for 35 cents.

Located a few feet from the waves at 2000 Spindrift Drive, the restaurant is known for the waves at high tide that frequently crash against its dining room windows. Before three-quarter-inch glass was installed in 1948, windows were boarded up whenever Pacific storms approached. During a violent El Niño storm in 1982, the thick tempered glass imploded and the sea flooded the restaurant.

For more information on The Marine Room, call (858) 459-7222 or visit marineroom.com. ??

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