Monday, March 28, 2011

Cafe Del Rey (Marina del Rey, CA)

Seems like I've been making my way to Marina del Rey more and more now. Cafe del Rey is a favorite of MDR locals and I have recently heard great things about it from friends, so I welcomed the invitation to a blogger tasting there.

Ahi tuna crudo
From the dining room you get a view of the boats in the marina.
Cafe del Rey
Their cocktail list is fairly small but interesting enough. One of them features "hum botanical" which is rum infused with hibiscus, ginger, green cardamom and kaffir lime. This was the first time I've seen it in a cocktail menu and the herbal taste was quite strong (may not be for everyone).
IMG_6397I started the night with a spiced apple bourbon (woodford reserve, spiced apple cider, simple syrup, ginger ale) -$12

Executive Chef Daniel Roberts grew up in New York City and started his career in Queens. Upon moving to California he worked as executive sous chef at Mondrian Hotel and Asia de Cuba, where he was promoted to executive chef after one year. He then moved on to work at Portofino Hotel and Yacht Club before finally landing at Cafe del Rey.

We started with a trio of raw appetizers, including the ahi tuna crudo pictured above, beef carpaccio, and scottish salmon.
Beef carpaccio, unexpectedly complemented with golden beets, arugula salad, lemon caper vinaigrette.
Housecured Scottish salmon with crisp artichoke, crème fraiche, tiny greens. This dish comes with a shot of basil vodka limoncello, which I thought paired quite well with it.
Chef Roberts also exhibited some Mediterranean slant in his menu, like his fun Kafta cigar (lamb kafta wrapped in dough and deep fried, sitting on an "ashtray" of tzatziki sauce) and falafel.
Kafta Cigar
Some of my favorite dishes were actually the two pasta dishes. The first was the agnolotti of wild mushrooms with black truffles, brown butter, reggiano
Al dente pasta filled with earthy and chewy mushrooms and the strong aroma of truffles. What's there to complain about?

The refreshing champagne granita was a lovely palate cleanser.
Champagne Granita
Seared Ahi Tuna - olive, artichoke, potato
Tuna Belly
I'm not a big fan of cooked tuna and even though this dish was good (I particularly enjoyed the artichokes), it was underwhelming compared to the other things we had that night.

One of my other favorites:
Housemade lemon and thyme pappardelle with rabbit, truffle, mirepoix and Reggiano Parmesan
I haven't had lemon pasta before, but it worked well with the thyme and even with the sauce the pasta tasted light. The rabbit was a good choice here, it was moist and tender but doesn't overwhelm the light flavors of the pasta. Lovely dish.

The main entree was another amazing dish, the best of the night, perhaps. Duo of Sonoma Lamb: Shank, braised with apricots and Loin encrusted with goat cheese. Served with broccolini and boulanger potato
Lamb Two Ways
Both were tender and had amazing flavors. I especially liked the sweet apricot-braised lamb shank. The loin was cooked to a perfect medium rare. The buttery boulanger potatoes were a hit at the table.

We ended with a huge platter of desserts:
Dessert Platter

My favorite was the decadent chocolate cake and lighter port poached pear, great after a big and heavy meal.
Poached Pear
Cafe del Rey's diverse and seasonal menu seems to have something for everyone, from more classical dishes like seared tuna, to homemade pasta, to Mediterranean dishes like kafta and falafel. The Marina del Rey residents already know to go there, but there's really no reason for the rest of the Westsiders to not check the place out. Chef Roberts is also working on a spring menu and I'm looking forward to seeing what will be coming.


Cafe del Rey
4451 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 823-6395
Cafe Del Rey on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: This meal was hosted



The plating is really quite beautiful! I love the sound of that lemon pasta with rabbit too - what an interesting flavor combination!


Hmm. That does not look like a cigar.

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