Diners at Cafe La Rue — Photo courtesy of Cafe La Rue
Cafe La Rue made its debut at La Jolla's posh La Valencia Hotel in January. The new Modern European bistro and bar is the first new restaurant concept at the hotel in nearly 50 years. La rue translates from the French to "the street," and this name's a good fit since several major La Jolla streets intersect in front of the prestigious hotel.
Signature arched windows allow sunlight to flood the space, and they also allow for ample people watching. Three large paintings of 1920s Parisian city life and the French Art Deco era by former hotel resident Wing Howard hang throughout the space. The space has also been opened up to include a new kitchen, a glass-enclosed wine vault and plush powder rooms.
Cafe La Rue — Photo courtesy of Cafe La Rue
The bistro's handcrafted cocktails are named for streets in La Jolla - The Girard, Prospect, Wall Street and more. A "Wine 1132" program, named for the hotel's address of 1132 Prospect Street, will showcase 11 wines per month priced at $32 per bottle.
Fans can also take home specially-minted wine charms. Happy hour during both the afternoon and late night is known as "The Appointment," in homage to the location's start as a retail store called La Cita (Spanish for "the appointment").
Sidewalk and patio seating are expected to become available in the coming months. In the meantime, the restaurant offers all-day dining from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Imported Illy barista coffees, specialty teas and pastry items can be purchased starting at 6:00 a.m. so that locals and visitors can gather in the morning European style.
Bratwurst at Cafe La Rue — Photo courtesy of Cafe La Rue
The menu features shared plates as well as artisanal favorites that also include modern interpretations of popular dishes featured throughout the hotel and its restaurants over the years. These dishes include fish and chips, filet mignon flatbread and paella.
Locals can also rest assured that the popular Whaler cocktail - a recipe coveted by the hotel - is still on offer at Cafe La Rue. More like a dessert than a boozy drink, the Whaler is a blend of Kahlua, Cream de Cacao, brandy and ice cream, though no one outside the hotel knows the exact proportions.
Mark Dibella, the hotel's managing director, says, "We've worked hard to create an intimate bistro and bar for today's diners and travelers, which embodies a decidedly more casual and sassy La Jolla social ambiance of easy comfort along with a graceful nod to the legacy of the hotel and its beloved gathering places."
So far, Cafe La Rue has proved that change can actually be a good thing.