“Would you care for a complimentary glass of champagne or some bottled water?” queried our check-in clerk after she gave me the room keys.
We both looked at one another and in unison answered, “Champagne!”
What a lovely way to start our overnight visit to the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes. We were there to dine at their renowned mar’sel, and rather than slogging our way back to Culver City, we thought we’d spend the night and extend our stay. It was a prudent move.
The Terranea Resort is situated on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, precisely where Marineland used to be. Erected in June 2009, Terranea encompasses a sprawling 102 acres, which provide visitors with a chance to enjoy a myriad of activities. Some of these include golf, spa treatments, kayaking, yoga, swimming, horseback riding, cycling, hiking, and of course dining at a number of restaurants.
Mar’sel is their premier dining establishment, and for good reason. The food is outstanding, exhibiting an innovative twist on California Cuisine, thanks to Chef Michael Fiorelli. He’s known for utilizing locally grown ingredients in a creative fashion, including citrus and herbs from their nearby restaurant garden. With views overlooking the Pacific, you couldn’t ask for a more opulent setting.
In the upcoming months, mar’sel will be also featuring some smaller plates, according to Rebecca Merhej, who has been working closely with Michael in the kitchen for a few years.
Mar’sel’s General Manager, Neil Hedin really contributes to the restaurant’s success as well. Having served in the hospitality industry for 25 years, one of his previous positions was running the dining room for the first five seasons of Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. Now that builds character!
The menu was tantalizing. We began with two appetizers, the Grilled Spanish Octopus ($18), with chorizo, fried potatoes, preserved lemon, piquillo pepper and salsa verde. I remember enjoying wonderful meals with octopus when we were in Greece and Italy a few years, ago and this appetizer was just as memorable.
Also interesting was their Crudo of Wild Caught Hamachi ($18), a creative blend of kimchi, yogurt, and dinosaur plums.
Of the two entrees we enjoyed, we both favored the Brandt Farms Prime Hanger Steak ($42) flanked with roasted brussel sprouts, pancetta, Fuji apple, crispy potato cake and a horseradish cream. I’m not a huge carnivore, but I kept begging for more off my companion’s plate.
I love fish, and their Wild Alaskan Halibut ($39) also took me by surprise. It came with bizoumis farms summer squash, sweet corn, toasted brioche, pea leaves, and an heirloom tomato confit. My Rodney Strong Chardonnay ($21 glass) and Erika’s Stag’s Leap Cabernet ($24 glass) were in fine company.
We were both stuffed, but we promised Rebecca that we’d also try dessert, and again we were wowed.
We both raved over their clean Strawberry Granita ($12), along with their delightful Summer Fruit Crumble ($15). Both set the stage for slumber as we gazed upon the Pacific and pretended we were ensconced in some Mediterranean resort.
Thankfully, there were several walking trails near the restaurant, which ushered us back to the room. The moon was full, tossing her white veil lazily across the undulating waves. In the distance, I could hear the wailing of the sandpipers as they found their way home.
I can’t believe I’m only 40 minutes from Culver City.