I’ve been visiting San Diego for years but had yet to find an exceptional restaurant, that is until now. I was staying at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego and decided to try their two star Michelin, Relais and Chateaux, Forbes 5 star and triple AAA 5 diamond restaurant. I’m not usually a fan of hotel restaurants, but this one is an exception to the rule. Under the leadership of Grand Chef (only 159 of them worldwide) William Bradley, Addison is an unrivalled dining experience in Southern California.
The 80 seat restaurant is plush but honestly is dated. However, they will be updating it in January of 2023. Heavy European style furnishings with arched windows overlooking the golf course. Dark mediaeval style chandeliers, vaulted wood beam ceilings, limestone fireplaces, tiled floors, marble columns and for some reason not a flower in sight on the bare tables. But the tables are spread out, giving ample space between diners. It is quiet, elegant, with beautiful china, crystal and silver. It is on the dark side and I suggest requesting a window seat, for the views as well as the natural light. It may all be old school but it is elegant and the service is extraordinary, formal, professional, attentive and personable. The service is like a fine tuned dance or orchestra with perfect precision.
Chef Bradley opened this restaurant in 2006. He received his first star in 2019 and his second in 2021. He is hopeful that he will be receiving his third star soon. He is an ambitious chef, with exceptional skills, whose French techniques with a leaning towards Asian influences can be seen and tasted in many dishes, as the chef admires and respects this cuisine.
This was a 9 course tasting menu, plus amuses. The menu changes regularly with the seasons. Our prelude began with 4 small bites, with kampachi nigiri, a chicken liver churro, Sage Hill garden greens, and a fabulous crispy potato square topped with Iberico Ham. The next 9 courses were equally appealing, kampachi sashimi with shiso, a shellfish presentation, and a standout Regiis Ova reserve caviar, served over a warm Kishihikari rice that was pure perfection. Another favorite course for us was called an interlude, salt and vinegar chips (which were addictive), served with a toasted dill, burnt onion dip. Up next, a golden eye snapper, served with a light broth and flavors of summer. This was followed by another, heartier Thai soup, with crispy sweet and sour sweetbreads (served on the side), with Thai basil and coriander. The bread course was next, and their sourdough bread with a 2 1/2 year old mother, and two butters, a brown sugar and a goats milk butter was heavenly. In fact, we took the leftovers back to our hotel room and had it for breakfast the next day. Crispy on the outside and dense and soft in the middle, I’m still dreaming about that bread now. The main course was a barbecued squab, a touch too rare for my taste but nevertheless delicious, in a red cabbage syrup, with chanterelles and wild arugula. Before the mignardises were served we were given Harry’s berries, strawberries, cucumber jelly and a fragrant whipped orange blossom. Then a variety of sweet treats, one better than the next.
The chef uses luxe ingredients from Southern California or imports them from places like Haikodo Japan and using skillful technique and glorious presentations, along with genuine hospitality and gracious service, it was a memorable meal indeed.
There was an impressive wine list, (actually a book) and in fact, Addison has held Wine Spectator’s Grand Award since 2009. They have a 12,000 bottle collection. The wines range in price from $145-$13,000 a bottle. There was a beautiful selection from not only California but also Burgundy, Rhône, Bordeaux, Italy, Spain and Germany. We were happy to find a half bottle of Billecart Salmon champagne. There are three sommeliers on staff and one was able to recommend a full body, smooth red from Spain as well.
The name Addison is named for Addison Mizner, the architect whose work inspired the style of the resort.
Chef William Bradley is crafting a world class dining experience. It doesn’t come cheap, at $298 per person before drinks. Others might complain they don’t want a marathon tasting meal, and if you have a short attention span then maybe look elsewhere. But, in the hands of the right chef, you might just feel as I did, excited, and energized by a vibrant and luscious meal of detailed, indulgent, well earned reputation of delightful bites.