New Menu at Aquarius Restaurant
A flavorful, seasonal menu offers tapas and local ingredients
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by Christina Waters on Oct 09, 2012
Chef Brian Drosenos at the Dream Inn’s Aquarius. (Photo by Chip Scheuer)
Chef Brian Drosenos'new menu for the Dream Inn's beautiful restaurant is designed to win over (1) discerning diners; (2) cost-conscious diners; (3) visitors; and (4) locals.
Priced well within the comfort zone of most inquiring foodies, the seasonally evolving menu--which includes a choice tapas menu for enjoyment in the lounge--is loaded with seasonal ideas, local organic ingredients and tons of vibrant flavor. And when you're sipping that mojito in the lounge, don't forget to look up and admire the surfboard-lined ceiling.
Chef Drosenos brings deep culinary background with major hotel groups to the post he's held since June, and already he has reimagined the menu, deepened the carnivore options and sourced local organic items from Route One Farmsand El Salchichero. In the dining-room-in-progress, tables already offer more generous spacing and, of course, the matchless views of Steamers and the glistening waves.
We began our recent dinner with small tapas plates. One offered a perfect, plump, pan-seared sea scallop, joined by Greek yogurt dusted with black pepper, a fluff of arugula and thin slices of tart, salty preserved lemon. The incredible preserved lemon also made a guest appearance on a tapas plate of grilled prawns sided with smoky tomato jam. Beautiful starter plates both.
Glasses of a deeply layered Beauregard 2010 estate Pinot Noir did the rest! The Pinot Noir, a generous pour for $16, showed the complexity and earthy spicing that characterizes the higher vineyards of this appellation.
A colorful beet salad arrived next, a long line of yellow and red baby beets joined by dill sprouts, pistachios and dots of Laura Chenel goat cheese. But the knockout dish was an entree of succulent, rare hanger steak, crowned with a vinegary chimichurri sauce that played brilliantly against the buttery flavors of the beef. The beef slices were arranged across a field of tiny multi-colored organic carrots, which were supported by exceptional mashed potatoes. The Argentinean specialty sauce blends parsley, oregano, peppers, garlic, oil and vinegar, and invites tinkering with in your own kitchen. The stellar beef entree was as much as two people could consume for $22. Incredible. Memorable sourdough was served with both olive oil and little rosettes of butter.
At sunset, this view is hard to beat. Shimmering waves, longboard veterans out catching slow rides—priceless. On Thursdays, a jazz trio romances the lounge starting at 3:30. Aquarius, 175 West Cliff Drive, should be your next reservation.