Waves and Wine: Pantai Inn and Sip Wine Bar
By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor
Locals and tourists alike have become accustomed to visiting the Del Mar Plaza in San Diego for exceptional wining and dining experiences. One cozy new venue - Sip Wine Bar - is already making a tasty mark on the local scene. Not far from the brand new Balinese-styled Pantai Inn in La Jolla – among other San Diego area Luxury Link properties – SIP is a perfect addition to any “Waves and Wine Weekend” agenda.
This intimate indoor/outdoor gastro-gem is an extension of its sister restaurant, Flavor Del Mar, which resides rooftop at the Plaza. The Sip space sits behind Flavor and, while this newbie often features some of the same menu items, has a flair all its own. Quite notably and true to its name, SIP boasts one of the most highly curated wine lists in the county courtesy of award-winning sommelier Jerome Astolfi, who also serves as General Manager.
Meanwhile, your one-bedroom villa with full ocean view at Pantai Inn delivers the “waves” portion of your Southen California getaway. Soak in the soothing sounds of the deep blue Pacific Ocean from your private balcony, or on those rare chilly San Diego days, curl up by the living room fireplace. A welcome bottle of wine and assortment of hand-crafted chocolates are included in your Luxury Link vacation experience, making a perfect precursor to a night out at Sip Wine Bar.
Sip’s exceptionally diverse wine program presents wineries from all over the world, allowing guests to sample diverse varietals and unexpected regions. The venue offers over 12 different wine flights with headings, such as “Bubbles,” "Great Summer Whites," and "Taste of the Old World." Even the most hardened Oenophiles will be impressed with SIP’s vast, well-conceived wine selections. Full bar premium liquors, cocktails, and craft beers are also available, including local San Diego brews from the Stone and Mission Breweries.
Beyond Sip’s impressive wine flight programs and other libation options, Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski further delights guests with specialty cheeses, house cured charcuteries, and other small bites in addition to full size entrée options.
I recently visited Sip with a group of fun-loving gals for a happy hour. And, happy we were with our copious selections from Chef Redzikowski’s eclectic multi-cultural menu. For family-style starters, we shared the Duck Fat Fries with parmesan, roasted garlic, and chives ($6); bright, melt-in-your-mouth Sesame Seared Salmon Sashimi with ginger, chive, lemon-soy and Hon-Shimeji mushrooms ($15); Tuna Tacos with guacamole, red onion, micro cilantro and sour cream ($15); and Mexican Bay Scallop Ceviche with tomato, cucumber, onion, Peruvian chile and cilantro ($12).
For dinner, we opted for the impossibly decadent Niman Ranch Double-Double Prime Beef Burger with arugula, caramelized onion, aged white cheddar, tomato confit, ketchup and mayo encased in a fresh brioche bun and served with Duck Fat Fries ($12); Shrimp and Beef Pad Thai with tomato, bean sprouts, scallion, and egg; and the three Pulled Pork Sliders—moist and tender shredded pork mixed with a sweet and tangy pineapple barbeque sauce and topped with spicy cole slaw ($14). Complementing our entrée selections was the side of Sautéed Greens—deep green broccolini, purple kale, 63 degree egg, and Manchego cheese spiced with chili oil ($12).
Perfectly punctuating this delightful epicurean experience was the Butterscotch Budino—layers of Italian pudding, caramel, créme fraîche and Maldon sea salt ($8). This dessert is an adventure all its own and, in itself, a draw to the location for many. The palates of chocolate lovers are also accommodated with SIP’s sinful Housemade Root Beer Float served with a brownie, chocolate chip cookie, candied walnuts and topped with vanilla bean ice cream ($10).
Relaxed and non-pretentious, the interior of Sip at Flavor Del Mar features eclectic accents, including high-topped community tables made of solid and weathered tree slabs, a pounded copper bar, exposed Edison bulb chandeliers and menu chalk boards. Open, exposed wooden wine and champagne bottle storage is a prime focal point for the interior that gives the space a homey elegance. Anchoring the space is a custom built meat curing room where Chef Redzikowski produces house-made charcuterie and cured meats. Outside, patio seating provides a serene ambiance and views of the Pacific Ocean.
All things considered, Sip at Flavor Del Mar is a welcome addition to Del Mar's rapidly growing restaurant culture. A visit here coupled with a vacation or staycation to Pantai Inn – with its Indonesian-inspired restored bungalows, townhouses, and cottages perched along the northern coast of San Diego – ensures a getaway that is genuinely distinctive for any wine connoisseur.
"The Luxe List" Executive Review Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted via e-mail at [email protected]. Follow her online at www.LuxeListReviews.com, on Twitter and on Facebook.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***