Cafe del Rey
I was invited to Cafe del Rey last week to check out new Executive Chef Daniel Roberts’ revamped Mediterranean inspired menu. Chef Roberts has been in the kitchen for about six months at Cafe del Rey. They have also made some cosmetic changes and the lounge is a new hotspot with cozy couches in front of a fireplace.
Cafe del Rey has always been known for fine dining but is now considered sophisticated casual dining with a great view of the harbor.
What makes Cafe del Rey interesting is Chef Roberts does as much as he can in-house. The burrata we had with the roasted tomato crostini was made in house. The Scottish salmon we had with our trio of cold appetizers is also house-cured. I particularly enjoyed the salmon. It seemed “fresher” than other cured salmon I’ve had in the past. It wasn’t as “fishy.”
When I first looked at our special tasting menu, I didn’t realize we were going to get everything. The cold apps went down just fine and then I took a moment to savor the artfulness of the hot appetizers. The tiny falafel which isn’t quite made in the traditional way. Chef Roberts said he wanted more flavorful falafel and there’s no fault to that reasoning. We also enjoyed wild mushroom angnolotti and the kafta cigar. Kafta, or the more familar spelling, kefta is a spiced ground meat– usually beef or lamb. The chef had rolled these up in the whisper-thin pastry shell and created a cigar. These were fun to eat!
Then we were given a palate cleanser; a simple champagne granita made with vanilla syrup.
Our first entree was the seared ahi tuna. Served with bits of olive, a couple of nice chunks of artichoke and really wonderful potatoes, this was a nice light dish.
Our pasta course was the housemade lemon and thyme pappardelle with rabbit, truffle, mirepoix and Reggiano Parmesan. I’m not the biggest fan of bunny as previously stated but will always welcome an opportunity to try it just to make sure. This dish was slightly bitter for me but it was executed very well. The pasta was al dente which is often hard to do with fresh pasta.
After receiving an amazing looking knife, we were given the Duo of Sonoma Lamb. The shank was braised with apricots and the loin was encrusted with goat cheese. I really enjoyed the broccolini and boulanger potato. Chef Roberts explained the potatoes were a bit of a fluke. He was cooking them down with veal stock and then decided to smash them and crisp them back up in a pan. The result was a studly spud.
The Pomegranate Hum (10 Cane rum, pom seeds, fresh pom juice, orange juice, hum botanical) was the first cocktail I tried. I didn’t know what hum botanical was but it’s used much like bitters. It tasted like hibiscus or a spiked jamaica to me. On its own, it’s strong stuff but carefully blended in this cocktail, it was a tasty beverage. I was also intrigued by the Spiced Apple Bourbon (Woodford Reserve, spiced apple cider simple syrup, ginger ale). The would-be heavy cocktail was lightened by the ginger ale. I was going to get a Kiwi Mojito (infused kiwi 10 Cane rum, rosemary mint syrup, fresh mint, lime) but unfortunately they were out of kiwi. I got a strawberry one (not listed on the menu) instead. It was lighter on the mint than expected. I also tasted the California 75 (Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain, lime, sparkling wine) which was a really nice riff on a French 75.
We were left to devour an enormous dessert platter. I enjoyed the port-poached pear the best. It was just so pretty and I loved the chip of dried pear sticking out of it.
Chef Roberts mentioned he’s working on a new Spring menu. Look for it in the next few weeks. In the meantime, Cafe del Rey has been doing quite a few special dinners including a recent surf & turf night, a dinner featuring Domain Chandon and they’re known for their brunch. Subscribe to hear all about their upcoming events. Or just rent out their lounge or popular Regatta Room. I’m thinking about a bar crawl with fireplaces!
4451 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-5415