Complimentary champagne upon check-in? I’m in!
And so began 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 Los Angeles, 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 unique, 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 using the citrus and herbs from their nearby restaurant garden. With views overlooking the Pacific, you couldn’t ask for a more opulent setting.
The menu was tantalizing. Go for 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.
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 also loved their Wild Alaskan Halibut ($39), which 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) accentuated the meal nicely.
Kudos to 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 Los Angeles — and just over an hour (with no traffic, of course) from the San Fernando Valley.
Mary McGrath is a freelance writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in many publications including Newsweek, Copley Newspapers, and the LA Times. (www.marymcgrathphotography.com or firstname.lastname@example.org