Kitchen 1540 is the signature restaurant of L’Auberge Del Mar, one of the swankiest hotels in the Del Mar neighborhood. The award-winning restaurant has been honored by Wine Spectator Magazine, San Diego Magazine, and Ranch & Coast Magazine, to name a few. Executive Chef Nathan Lingle is currently at the helm and describes his menu at Kitchen 1540 this way, “Coastal harvest cuisine, simply prepared, showcasing bold flavors within the changing seasons.” A vertical hydroponic garden on the restaurant’s al fresco dining terrace produces edible herbs and flowers that support Kitchen 1540’s dishes and cocktails.
Kitchen 1540 Ambiance
Kitchen 1540 was designed by Manhattan’s Andre Kikoski’s Architecture, designer of the restaurant at the Guggenheim Museum, so of course it’s stylish and modern. Soaring white ceilings with colored-glass pendant lighting, sharp angles, a sunset color palette, an open kitchen, and sleek contemporary décor define the space. It’s casual-chic, airy, and comfortable. A small private dining room seating 12 guests is separated from the main dining area with a glass wall.
Moving to the outside terrace, soothing sounds come from a tiled water wall straight ahead, pastel colored-glass lanterns hang from a tree to the right and in private cabanas at the patio’s outer edges. A modern fire pit with red crystals sits in the middle of the space casting a romantic glow over wood dining tables and chairs, and plush couches in the evening. The classy vibe of Kitchen 1540 caters to savvy adult travelers.
Kitchen 1540 Food
Like many San Diego fine dining restaurants, Executive Chef Nathan Lingle, who took the reins at Kitchen 1540 in 2015, has created a sustainable menu that changes with the seasons and takes advantage of San Diego’s freshest in-season ingredients. From starters to mains to desserts, it’s hard to make a bad choice here.
Three starters are consistently heaped with praise on review sites. Seafood lovers will want to try the Pacific geoduck, a large saltwater clam, with kokuho rose rice and sea lettuce; or Kona kampachi, a designer yellowtail fish with grapefruit, spring radish, white ponzu, puffed grain, and avocado purée. Tantalizingly tender slow-roasted pork belly, Grist & Toll polenta, carrot salad, and carrot top pesto is the alluring starter for landlubbers.
Main courses at Kitchen 1540 also appeal to the sophisticated palate. While they’re all delicious, two stand out from the rest as fan favorites. Jidori chicken, which if you aren’t familiar, is the crème de la crème of chicken, sort of the antithesis of factory raised chickens – and you can taste the difference. At Kitchen 1540, Jidori chicken is served with chorizo, winter squash pave, and mole verde. The other diner favorite is Skuna Bay salmon, raised in a natural ocean environment off Vancouver Island by craftsman farmers and delivered fresh. The salmon is served with glazed radish, sorrel pesto, gooseberry, and spring asparagus.
The Chef suggests saving room for one of Kitchen 1540’s sumptuous desserts. Cake and ice cream is a favorite choice among diners. It’s a chocolate cake with salted caramel ganache, nutella gelato, and blackberry sorbet that will make you swoon. Another tasty temptation is the craft beer beignet, deep fried and drizzled with Cali creamin’ cinnamon sauce. Any of the house-made desserts will delight your taste buds.
Kitchen 1540 Details
You’ll feel most comfortable at Kitchen 1540 in dressy attire suitable for a fine dining restaurant. Expect valet parking (free with restaurant validation), ADA accessibility, and upscale service. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch, but is locally popular with the dinner crowd. Reservations are encouraged, especially during high season. There is a full bar and both indoor and outdoor dining. Although families are welcome, the menu and ambiance cater to a sophisticated adult clientele. There is complimentary Wi-Fi, but don’t expect a TV nearby.
Kitchen 1540 Neighborhood
L’Auberge Del Mar and Kitchen 1540 are located hallway between the rhythmic Pacific Ocean and the historic Village of Del Mar and all it has to offer. Del Mar Plaza, which is across the street from the hotel, has more than 30 shops and boutiques. You’ll find a wide variety of offerings such as fine jewelry, interesting home décor, artwork and collectibles, and trendy fashions.
The biggest attraction in this upscale neighborhood is the Del Mar Race Track, which Bing Crosby opened in 1937. Del Mar racing season begins in mid-July and Kitchen 1540 at L’Auberge hosts an epic Opening Day After-Party around the hotel pool each year. The Del Mar track now offers a post-summer 15-day elite Thoroughbred racing season in November too.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’re in luck. After lunch, walk down to Del Mar Beach that fronts Powerhouse and Seagrove parks. You can take long beach walks in either direction, south to Torrey Pines State Park, or north to Del Mar’s dog-friendly River Mouth Beach across from the race track. Rent bikes and join the throngs of bikers crisscrossing Del Mar, or leap from a cliff on a tandem parasailing adventure. Golfers should check out Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, home to the Buick Open, or the Tom Fazio designed Grand Golf Club at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar Resort.