Not Your Typical Golf Club Restaurant | Ember & Rye, Carlsbad, CA
• GAYOT’s Rating: 14/20
• Cuisine: Steakhouse / Seafood
• Lunch & Dinner daily 11:30 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Most of us know chef Richard Blais, winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars.” Since he is a chef, Blais, besides appearing on various TV shows, also operates restaurants and food trucks. From humble beginnings at McDonald’s (#truestory as he wrote on his website), he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, and went on to train at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse and el Bulli.
Chef Blais hails from New York but now lives in Southern California near the elegant Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa, therefore the choice of settling his knives and culinary ideas here. Part of the experience at Ember & Rye is the magnificent setting created by the surrounding Aviara Golf Club and the grand entrance to the restaurant. There are numerous tables inside (including two stylish private rooms) but I think the prime ones are on the patio overlooking the golf course (holes 1 & 18) and the Batiquitos Lagoon. Let’s not forget the outdoor wood-fire grill creating a smoky and tantalizing ambience (see video below).
Perhaps influenced by the game of golf, which is rather on the safe side compared to other sports, chef Blais is pretty conservative on the execution of the “Cuts & Catches,” the meats and the seafood. These include various dry-aged ribeyes with a 12-ounce A5 Japanese Hokkaido Prefecture Wagyu; Dungeness crab or artic chard. The avocado crab appetizer was tasty, while the Caesar salad lacked a kick in its dressing.
On the other hand, he gets more adventurous with some dishes by adding a sweet taste. It is not always the perfect swing, as in the radishes dipped in white chocolate (not a favorite). I discovered, after reading the menu, that the “yolk” on the tuna tartare in the Avocado Toastada was actually mango. Accompanying the oysters are red cocktail sauce “pearls” made of strawberries. The corn, part of the vegetable section, was turned into a crème brûlée. Since there is no bread service, you might have to order the garlic croissants for substitution. Finish with the desserts from French pastry chef Christophe Rull. His apple pie, accompanied by vanilla ice cream and topped at the table by rye caramel sauce, is large enough for two.
The wine list is short, but before dining, a stop at the bar is practically a must. Remember, “rye” is part of the name of the restaurant…