Fans of Coastal San Diego

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Dinner at Vivace in Carlsbad - A Memorable Evening

Dinner at Vivace, at the Four Seasons in Carlsbad, is a memorable evening. It comes at a price, of course, so the faint of heart, or those with a slim pocketbook, may find it a bit beyond their comfort level (it is easy to spend $50 - $60 per person, not including wine or dessert, but then we ARE there for pampering aren't we?).

And, for most of us, I expect, it really is for a special evening - a birthday, anniversary, gift - and not for everyday dining. Too rich for my taste buds on a daily basis, but they certainly appreciate the creativity, flavors, food combinations and plating that emerge from the kitchen, under the expert guidance of Chef Bruce Logue. [photo at left of a gorgeous flower display in the lobby]

Yes, the restaurant (partial photo at left) IS in a hotel, but you can't go wrong at the Four Seasons, at least in my experiences there, in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. We started our evening last Saturday (a birthday celebration) in the lounge to enjoy a drink before our reservation.

While the lounge is attractive I much prefer to sit out on the terrace to enjoy the views of the ocean in the distance, but it was a tad chilly. I will say that I am not fond of lounges that provide live music other than quiet jazz (sorry, that's MY preference), so while the entertainer had a good voice, it was too loud, with very predictable music, and just not something that added to the ambiance of the room. It actually was, for me, more an annoyance than a pleasure. The service was attentive and friendly (but flavored popcorn for table snacks?? Not up to their usual goodies, perhaps due to the holiday weekend)

The attractive dining room is rather large and divided into several dining areas, and beautifully decorated. Just past the Maitre D's desk is one such dining area...however, it feels like being in a hallway and not part of the restaurant. Don't sit there if you can help it - it feels a bit like an overflow area and lacks personality. Again, my opinion. The rest of the dining areas are much more pleasant.

The main dining room has a wonderful fireplace that is great for wintry evenings, but difficult to snare. Tables are well spaced so you don't feel crowded and the staff are knowledgeable about food preparations, the chef's specialties of the evening, and recommendations about the best things to enjoy based on the market offerings. The wine list is quite good, for a hotel restaurant, and the menu is eclectic in its offerings. There are some vegetarian offerings and I know they will assist diners with particular food allergies or particular needs, including vegan.
My Ahi tuna dish was fabulous, as were the other dishes the rest of our party had - a wonderful calamari appetizer, spectacular fresh pasta with peas, and a flavorful rack of lamb, to name a few. Desserts looked very appealing but the stomach rebelled at more food being consumed.

Vivace provides an elegant Italian style spot in North County to do it up right and celebrate. The views are magnificent from the lobby (see photo, bottom right) and the terrace, and you will feel pampered from the moment you arrive in your car until your departure. The staff are friendly and helpful, and clearly wish to accommodate your needs, whatever they might be.
Next time a special occasion warrants a dinner out, it is worth the trip to Vivace in Carlsbad.

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