Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest NBA basketball player ever, but the Chicago Bulls never could have pulled in six championships in eight years without the hard work of the second-best player on the team, Scottie Pippen. Changing venues to a kitchen, the same reasoning applies to The Grand Del Mar hotel and its two restaurants.
The Grand’s exquisite and opulent No. 1 restaurant is Addison. Executive chef William Bradley recently teamed with the hotel’s acclaimed wine director, Jesse Rodriquez, during a guest chef turn at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City. Addison is Air Jordan.
That should take nothing away from the Grand’s “casual” eatery, Amaya. This summer, spend some time eating outside for breakfast or lunch at the Pippen-esque Amaya. Gaze out over the pristine lawn and through the Italianate arches of an events pavilion. Order the Farm Eggs dish that comes with crab meat, tomatoes, chipotle and avocado. Eat slowly.
On Wednesday night, Amaya held a dinner to feature the new spring/summer menu prepared by chef Camron Woods. He’s been there since the property opened 18 months ago, but now Woods is being given the keys to the kitchen. The small bites served at this fete weren’t as grand as a full-blown entrée, but the grilled swordfish and roasted halibut samples did not disappoint.
Woods has a garden just outside the restaurant where 90 percent of the herbs used in Amaya’s dishes are grown. Smiling, and standing in the garden, Woods summed up the Amaya experience: “Yes, for the Grand, we’re the ‘casual’ restaurant, but we’re not sloppy by any means. You can come in comfortable, in flop-flops, maybe.”
Addison offers a more debonair flair -- but Amaya’s contribution to the team makes it the unsung hero.
Woods shoots. He scores.
Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com and a contributing editor to sandiego.com. His Web site (sandiegoDTOWN.com) is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.