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Celebration at 1500 Ocean

This weekend was CP’s birthday and I wanted to plan something nice for him.  Last year, the Padres were in town and so that was a no brainer birthday plan for a loyal Padres fan.  However, the boys were away in Arizona this year and I could not do a road trip game with him due to work travel (in fact, I’m writing this post as I am en route to Oklahoma City).  What to do…what to do?…

My brilliant plan came together over the course of a few weeks a couple months ago.  I got us tickets for a 2-hour San Diego Harbor Excursion that took us all around the San Diego bay.  When I bought the tickets, I really had hoped that CP had never gone on one of these cruises.  Like many locals, we rarely actually do any of the touristy things unless we run out of daily things to do. 🙂

The cruise ended up being a really fun thing to do and we got to see part of the harbor that we have never seen before.  Areas included the far industrial San Diego, naval bases, and ship yards.  We also saw fairly familiar sights such as the Convention Center, Coronado Island, and Point Loma.  The weather was beautiful and not a cloud in sight!  (I was freaking out in the morning when I woke up to thick clouds.  I was trying to come up with a backup plan as I was doing my squats and dead-lifts at the gym, but thank goodness none was needed.)

After our nice cruise around the ocean front, we headed over the Coronado Bridge over to the Hotel del Coronado for dinner.  I tried my best to keep the location a secret from CP until we ended up right in front of the restaurant – 1500 Ocean.

Each time I have walked by the restaurant while visiting Hotel del or beach, I wanted to try the place.  1500 Ocean has been on my list of places to eat for a long time, but I wanted a special occasion to come here (it’s not exactly the cheapest place to dine).  What better time than to celebrate my sweetie’s birthday?!  So when I decided on the Harbor cruise, I immediately knew where I wanted to take him for dinner.  I made reservations about a month ahead and noted when I did that this was for his birthday.

We were seated immediately when we arrived at our reservation time (7:15pm) and the place was already pretty bustling.  Our table was out in the patio area with this gorgeous view of the ocean.

Honestly…how can you beat a table side view like this?!  It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t have asked for a better setting.

A bread cloth basket was brought to the table with room temperature butter.  Nestled in the cleverly folded cloth were little sourdough spears (as I had dubbed them.  CP mentioned other names too like ‘sourdough cigars’ and ‘sourdough blunts’…which is an accurate description of the bread shape).  The bread was good, but I prefer it when restaurants serve hot bread.

Then a waiter came with a little plated amuse bouche of shaved melon and squid.  I was initially hesitant at the combination and was not sure if it would work in my mind.  However, I decided to put away that hesitation and at the moment, I placed my entire trust in the chef’s hands.  When I placed the fruit and squid into my mouth, I was surprised how good the combination tasted in my mouth.  The cantaloupe had a mild sweetness and contrasted to the briny squid.  I also tasted a citrus of lemons that cut through some of that brine and it all just worked.  What a good start!

The restaurant offers a tasting menu that you can build your 4-course meal from their entire menu for a set price.  This is actually a great option to get a tasting of everything on their menu and is a great deal considering the entrees averaged about $35 a plate.  I wanted to do this and was able to talk CP into it as well, so onward to the food!!

Our appetizer (we both chose the same) was the Hiramasa Crudo.  Thinly sliced sashimi grade yellowtail topped with diced plum, baby fennel, pistachio, basil, and espelette peppers.  CP really enjoyed this, as did I.  The fish was so fresh and I am all about unadulterated fish, but once again the chef was able to mingle the flavors together and enhancing the overall taste of the dish.

Next came the Saffron Spaghetti (once again, CP had to have it as did I).  The pasta for starters did not resemble “spaghetti” the traditional way and looked more like linguine.  Not that I’m complaining as linguine is one my preferred and favorite pastas.  I did not get the chance to ask if the pasta was made in-house or bought, but it was cooked al dente and delicious.  What really made this dish stand out were the CHUNKS of Maine lobster and I really mean chunks.  Look at the picture above!  About 45-50% of the dish was composed of the lobster (hidden underneath the bottarga crumbs).  Succulent and sweet, it was amazing with the thick, spicy tomato broth that had little bits of corn kernels.  I could eat a whole BOWL of this dish!

For my main entrée, I chose the Diver Scallops with summer squash, crispy prosciutto, sun-gold tomatoes.  Three lightly seared scallops sat on top of a zucchini puree, surrounded by halved tomatoes and sliced squash, and topped with fried bits of prosciutto.  See, this is why I can never steer away from the scallops whenever it appears on the menu especially at a restaurant like 1500 Ocean where they specialize in seafood.  The scallops were not overcooked (a TERRIBLE thing to do to these beauties) and they were so fresh that there was not even a whiff of the “seafood smell”.  They were sweet, tender, and just melt in your mouth AWESOME (I revert back to being a child when I get excited)!  I particularly enjoyed the little fried bits of prosciutto because who doesn’t love a little fried bacon??

CP ordered the White Sea Bass for his entrée.  The fish was filleted with the skin still on and seared till the skin crisped up.  The sea bass sat on top of a bed of black quinoa and ‘nduja (spicy pork sauage) cooked with mussel broth, and was topped off with a little ceviche of calamari.  Visually, the dish was stunning and I enjoyed the spicy mussel broth most of all.  I also tried a little bit of the fish and I think it may have been slightly over cooked (maybe due to the searing of the skin which can cause dryness to fish).   However, the flavors all worked together and CP enjoyed his dish which was all that counts for me.

To wrap up our 4-course meal, we each got to choose a dessert and shared:

The Brown Butter Cake sat on top of the toasted almond semifreddo, surrounded by strawberry port sauce, fresh berries, and was topped with sugar twill.  The cake was moist in the center and crunchy on the outside.  It was very heavy tasting and I was glad that it came with all the fresh berries and mint.

The ‘Cookies and Crème’ was my favorite of the 2 desserts.  It came with a trio of the daily ice cream selections which were Vanilla, Caramel, and Cinnamon for that day.  Each scoop was on top of a cookie crumbles and 2 cookies were nestled in between the ice cream scoops – chocolate chip and chocolate.  The ice creams were nice, creamy, and fresh (I can’t stand old ice cream where it has begun crystallizing).  My favorite flavor was the cinnamon and I would highly recommend this dessert if you come.

Since I did mention in my reservation that it was CP’s birthday, the restaurant gave us a complementary dessert plate and a little card too!  I thought that this was really nice and I didn’t even have to ask for it.  Actually, I forgot to mention that when our waiter came to greet us in the beginning of the meal, he wished CP a Happy Birthday too.  Now that is what I call good service!

The little dessert plate had a mini chocolate chip cookie, butter cookie, a scoop of sorbet, and more fresh berries.  What was so fun about this was the candle.  It was a trick candle that just did NOT want to give up.  CP blew it out multiple times, but it kept relighting itself and even I tried helping to get it out.  The candle burned all the wax until it was nothing but a small pool of blue wax and charred wick.  We couldn’t stop laughing at how amazingly resilient the candle was.

We had a wonderful dinner and the service at 1500 Ocean was impeccable.  From the view, servers, food, and ambience, it is a great place for a special occasion or for a romantic meal.  Although I won’t be coming here often, I will definitely consider 1500 whenever I need a setting for celebrations of all sorts.

1500 Ocean
(inside Hotel del Coronado)
1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA 92118


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