The Perfect Combination of Farm-to-Table Food, Craft Beers, and Boutique Wines at Tasting Room Del Mar
“There can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself.” – Robert Parker
Tasting Room Del Mar is a new restaurant located in the heart of Del Mar, on the corner of 15th Street and Camino Del Mar, just caddy corner to L’Auberge and across the street from Del Mar Plaza. It is truly the “hot corner” of Del Mar. But this restaurant concept is more than just location. The bar and restaurant are the culmination of a vision held and honed by owner David Taylor over the last two decades, which initially started when David was a manager and eventually a CEO of technology companies in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s. David and his team are focused on providing a unique dining and drinking experience that is not available anywhere else in San Diego.
The Food at Tasting Room Del Mar
The focus of the restaurant at Tasting Room Del Mar is focused on using locally sourced products and ingredients to provide fine dining in a casual yet elegant venue as “small bites”, which allows you to sample many menu items in one night. The staff prides themselves on being able to pair your meal with both craft beer or boutique wines. They even offer a “Surrender Series”, where you can put your dining experience into the hands of the servers, chefs and sommeliers, and allow them to choose your entire menu for the evening, including beer or wine pairings. You can detail things that you don’t like, and then chefs will prepare a three or five course menu and match beer and wine with each course. Tasting room offers a full dinner menu, however you may have to order few small plates to feel full, but that’s part of the fun! There is so much more to taste and experience that way!
I sat down with owner David Taylor to talk more about how this incredible place came to be, and was surprised to see a few more people in the restaurant than I originally planned. Here’s our discussion:
The Wine & Beer at Tasting Room Del Mar
It is hard to separate the food from the wine and beer at Tasting Room Del Mar.
The concept of the amazing establishment is sort of a three legged stool with craft beer, boutique wine, and delicious farm to table food. Most restaurants focus on either beer or wine, but Tasting Room has a FOCUS on both! The cuisine is locally sourced and their executive chef, Steven Lona, is extremely passionate about supporting small businesses here in San Diego. Originally from the Los Angeles area, Steven loves to pair food with beer and wine. He says, “Conceptually we wanted to have the ability to have food be sort of an adventure in line with the beer and the wine so we wanted people to be able to try multiple courses and not feel constricted to only having one dish because of its size.” In addition to being the executive chef, Steven is really the craft beer expert on the team. As Steven says, “We felt like if people really wanted to get a true expression of what we cook, that it would be best to price the menu and size the menu in a way that would allow them to really browse through several plates on one particular visit.” The style and format at Tasting Room is very compatible with Del Mar. It’s unlike other nearby restaurants, although many of the other restaurants in Del Mar are some of our favorites as well. In our conversation with David, he described the symbiotic relationship that Tasting Room has with the other restaurants in Del Mar, where many patrons will come to Tasting room either before dinner for wine or cocktails, or after dinner for dessert or an Aperitif.
Chef de Cuisine Jenny Goycochea competed on, and won, Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network, which is one of our favorite shows. Jenny has been cooking professionally for eight years. She called it a “match made in heaven” when her cooking styles met David and Steven to form the menu for Tasting Room Del Mar. When asked by owner David how they come up with new dishes all the time, Jenny said, “Steven and I have very different cooking styles, but we are here to help each other and be sounding boards for each other, and guide it to make it the best dish it can be. So maybe it’s something that is a little bit more my style, but Steven gives his input to make it better, and vice versa.”
Wine Director Rusti Gilbert “personally selects each wine for the unique way in which it represents both its region and the integrity of the varietal,” although she runs her process by David and the other majority owners of the restaurant including David’s son, Evan Taylor, who manages the restaurant. About 40% of their wines are from California, and the other 60% are from other states and international areas such as France, Germany, south of the Equator, etc. You can purchase the wine you taste here to bring home as well, so you don’t have to worry about finding a wine you love, and never getting to taste it again. This is because Tasting Room Del Mar offers retail sales of the wines they serve.
One of the best parts of Tasting Room Del Mar is the outside patio and bar, which is a converted flower shop that used to be on the corner. The inside bar is curved for more interaction between patrons, and you can watch a ballgame, or over the next couple of weeks, the the Olympic Games, on the TVs behind the bar. If you’re looking to have dinner, they offer full service at the bar, and also offer a cute little viewing bar that overlooks the kitchen. It is a terrific venue and great addition to the Del Mar bar and restaurant scene. We hope you can go and experience what Tasting Room Del Mar has to offer. We definitely will be back…over and over again.
Have you been here yet? We’d love to hear about how you liked it!