I wasn’t always a good cook. There was a time when I burnt grilled cheese and pizza… frozen pizza. I sometimes multitask while in the kitchen and tend to forget that I’m cooking. Fortunately I’m a much better cook these days, having some experience now, tons of cookbooks, and the internet. Throwing together a gourmet meal with whatever I happen to have in my refrigerator is what I revel in the most. Yet, there are nights when I just don’t feel like cooking. I’m either too tired or our frig is bare – or I want to celebrate something! On those “going out for dinner nights” I expect to be impressed. Since I now consider myself a gourmet “foodie,” it’s not easy to impress me. There are only a handful of restaurants in Carlsbad that live up to my expectations, and Chef Teri McIllwain and her new menu at Chandler’s accomplish the task.
Why? We all know that “fresh” is the key ingredient to a really delicious meal – and the fresher the better. Chandler’s chef has that figured out, and the farmers market comes to her! Every Thursday a collection of local farms set up their weekly wares outside Chandler’s restaurant which is located inside the Hilton Cape Rey in Carlsbad to display their freshest fruits and vegetables.
It’s no surprise that Culinary Director Teri McIllwain has a passion for farm-to-table cuisine! The fruits and vegetables she picks never have a chance to make it to a market shelf. Teri alters her newly crafted menu based on the fresh selections that week.
The menu aligns itself with the restaurant’s new direction. Teri also took into consideration feedback from locals about their preferences in menu choices. Innovative but not too much, distinctively California coastal, and healthy without one knowing it, the new menu impresses. When foodies decide to dine out, they want a meal that is better than they would prepare at home and Teri and her team accomplished this.
Some of the most popular items on the menu are the Artisan Cheese Plate, Capeside Poke, Lobster and Shrimp Tacos, Truffle Fries, Heirloom Tomato Salad, and Whiskey Brined Jidori Chicken – each with local greens of course. It’s hard to pick, but my favorite is the Capeside Poke because of the unique and colorful flavors including the light but mouthwatering Thai chile aioli and ponzu sauces.
Hilton Cape Rey Resort – One Ponto Drive, Carlsbad CA 92011 760-602-0800
Chandler’s Carlsbad: http://caperey.com/restaurant/