Two years ago, I took the Artichoke Creative team to Market in Del Mar for our holiday dinner. We were blown away by the experience so when the opportunity came around recently to revisit Chef Carl Shroeder’s Del Mar masterpiece I jumped at the opportunity.
Before I go all ga-ga on this place, just a few words of advice as you approach Market on Via de la Valle. First off, it’s a very small parking lot that is filled with predominantly exotic luxury vehicles and valet parking only. Just go with it and let them park your car. The crowd in the lounge tends to reflect that auto demographic with a lot of fancy people looking really, well … fancy. The staff and the service at Market could very easily reflect that and be pretentious and full of themselves but are quite the opposite. Market is trying to cultivate happy customers and they do that by trying their best to make everyone feel comfortable, at home, and not afraid to ask questions. As soon as we were taken into the dining room I felt as though we were the only table in the room that was completely full. Service was prompt, attentive, and knowledgeable.
So I’m sure many of you know San Diego native Carl Schroeder’s story so I won’t dwell on it, but it should be noted that he cut his chops at some of the most amazing restaurants I’ve ever been to including Aqua in San Francisco, and at Marin’s Lark Creek Inn. In 2002 he opened Bradley Ogden’s Arterra in Del Mar, which as far as I’m concerned put San Diego on the culinary map. He was doing the whole farm to fork thing way before it became trendy. The awards and accolades have been plentiful since and well deserved. Schroeder creates much more than really good food using the freshest possible ingredients; he creates a complete dining experience. It’s not inexpensive, but I would gladly give up three or four mediocre meals for a real dining experience like Market, it’s just that good.
Meals began with an amuse bouche, compliments of the chef and this continues between courses. A slice of smoked salmon with micro greens in a tangy, vibrant dressing was served on a porcelain spoon. This is a wonderful way to prepare your palette for the meal to come.
Our starts included the heirloom tomato soup, French onion soup and garlic meatballs, which was so far from the typical version. It was a hearty broth rich with onions but laying in it were garlic meatballs that were just the right size for a mouthful without being overwhelming and delicious croutons topped with melted cheese.
The BLT salad, which was arranged with the brioche, grilled cheese stacked on top and served with nice size chunks of braised bacon. Starters are in the $10 to $20 range with the Foie Gras topping out the high end of the list.
Entrées at Market put me into that state of mind where I have to repeat to myself over and over to slow down, savor the goodness and the care that goes into what’s on the plate in front of me.
As opposed to going at it caveman style in a wild feeding frenzy, which is really not appropriate for this kind of place anyway.
I’m just going to throw a few of the entrée’s that were shared at my table and ranged in price from $24 to $34.
From the dayboat scallops and Maine lobster to the hickory roasted ribeye cap steak to the Tandoori spiced game hen two ways, we were all thrilled with our selections.
The sommelier was incredibly helpful in pairing several Pinot Noirs that were outstanding and a great French Chablis that went well with both red meat and seafood.
There were many choices for dessert and even though their signature Market bars were not on the menu that evening the kitchen gladly accommodated our request.
Dining at Market is an experience worth experiencing, be it for a special occasion or if you have the wherewithal as a regular stop of your restaurant circuit. Located at 3702 Via de la Valle in Del Mar. Hours and menu can be found at www.marketdelmar.com.
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