Fairmont Grand Del Mar and Addison Restaurant
Del Mar, California
“Grand” sums up almost every detail of the enchanting Fairmont Grand Del Mar. The property feels like a palatial Mediterranean villa with its winding, mile-long drive to the entrance, meticulous grounds, ornate lobby and common spaces with gilded ceilings, imported-stone fireplaces, enormous woven rugs, formal furnishings, columned verandas, and sweeping spiral staircases with intricate ironwork. That’s before you enter any of about 300 rooms and suites, each similarly decorated and equally lavish with private outdoor spaces.
Perhaps the grandest part of a visit is a dinner at Addison, located on the property, up a hill from the main resort, in its own equally opulent Old World manse. (A hotel BMW will whisk you up and back.) It’s San Diego’s only Michelin-starred restaurant and also one of the most astounding fine dining experiences in the country that’s remained relatively under the radar. Each course doubles as an edible work of art: the dishware itself is dreamy, and service staff synchronizes their every move, simultaneously placing dishes before swapping positions to unveil each course, perfectly pouring a swirl of sauce here or putting on a finishing tableside touch there. It’s the creation of chef William Bradley, who’s been at the helm since Addison opened almost 15 years ago, elevating SoCal ingredients to swoon-worthy heights. The menu changes to reflect the seasons, but there’s always a pretty prelude of tiny, jewel-box bites that could include Kumamotos garnished with paper-thin pickled gooseberries or finger lime-topped squid ink toast. The chef’s tongue-in-cheek play on “eggs and rice” is a blend of Koshihikari Japanese rice and Thomas Keller’s own Regiis Ova caviar, and Bradley often serves his signature California artichoke plated with whipped parmesan and red mullet roe, plus a bevy of intricate dessert bites, before sending guests home with jars of housemade granola for the next day’s breakfast.