So I’ll be honest, I’ve never found Pacific Beach to be a place I even thought about doing a stay-cation at.
That was until recently when I learned of the opening of Oceana Coastal Kitchen at the iconic Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa.
I’ll admit, I was first drawn to their choice of executive chef in Steven Riemer, who has one of the more impressive resumes in the San Diego culinary community. Any chef who spends a significant amount of time at The Lodge at Torrey Pines is worth following in my book.
I decided to indulge heavily in the dining experience at Oceana and not worry about driving back to Encinitas so I booked a room at the Catamaran.
First a bit about this fabulous chef Steven Riemer.
Riemer was drawn to the energy of the kitchen from an early age, his love of organic, sustainable food stems back to his childhood in Washington state.
With more than 25 years of culinary experience, Chef Riemer made his way into the industry through numerous apprenticeships at restaurants around Seattle, Wash.
Upon relocating to Southern California, his professional career continued at the AAA Five Diamond resort hotel The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, where he worked his way up through the ranks.
During his 11-year tenure at the famed Dana Point hotel, Riemer refined his skills in classic French cuisine under internationally renowned Executive Chefs Yvon Goetz and Christian Rassinoux, had the privilege to cook alongside former guest chefs and culinary legends Pierre Troisgros and Paul Bocuse, and went on to represent the hotel’s culinary team at the James Beard House in New York City.
Recruited to launch The Lodge at Torrey Pines in 2001, Chef Riemer began working alongside Jeff Jackson, executive chef and farm-to-table pioneer.
As executive sous chef, Riemer took pride in developing close relationships with local suppliers to cultivate a cutting-edge menu at one of La Jolla’s premier dining destinations.
He was also responsible for training and directing the culinary team, and he designed the first ever pastry program during his eight-year reign at the famed AAA Five Diamond hotel.
After a brief sabbatical spent eating his way around the U.S., Riemer was promoted by Evans Hotels to take over operations as executive chef for the new restaurant, Oceana Coastal Kitchen.
The menu can best be described as casual, simple and homegrown — Chef Riemer’s playful interpretation of classic dishes highlights the purity and flavors of local California produce and a commitment to sustainable ingredients.
Guests are greeted with a 25-foot long cold bar serving an expansive selection of oysters, fresh sushi, seafood platters and specialty items, such as yellowtail crudo, sesame sea bass ceviche, king crab legs, tuna carpaccio and more. The tuna carpaccio is amazing.
Complementing the cold bar, Chef Riemer’s menu features a thoughtful selection of dishes such as the cold smoked Niman Ranch Pork Chop with goat cheese grits, spiced apple and toasted slaw. I had the Two Duck Risotto with duck leg confit and Japanese pumpkin flavors and that dish has made it on to my top five meal list. My companion had the Seared Arctic Char with buckwheat soba, shitake mushrooms, ginger dashi, scallions and braised daikon. It should be noted that he menu also offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
The restaurant itself is an impressive 8,200-square-foot indoor/outdoor space that embodies a true California experience. The focal point in the main dining room is an impressive 800-gallon aquarium, home to fluorescent tropical jellyfish. A large sliding window opens to reveal unobstructed views and gentle breezes from Mission Bay. The main dining room includes a combination of upholstered banquettes and loose tables featuring custom Hawaiian made Koa tabletops, as well as chairs and stools that were handcrafted in Bali. Great views of Mission Bay can be had both indoors and outdoors and the Catamaran Resort offers many fun activities including their world-class spa in addition to the amazing dining. As an added bonus all guests dining at Oceana Coastal Kitchen receive complimentary valet for zero-stress parking.
The Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is located at 3999 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92109. For more information on the resort, visit catamaranresort.com or call (858) 488-1081.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during at 4:10 and 7:10 p.m. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905