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When hunger hits at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, you have two restaurant options. My top choice is the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star A.R. Valentien, a small but formal spot that dishes out farm-fresh cuisine. The menu changes daily to make use of seasonal finds at local farmer’s markets and farms. The intimate Craftsman-inspired dining room has lots of wood, Tiffany-style lanterns as well as white-cloth-clad tables with vases of fresh flowers, wooden chairs and semicircular velvety booths. A.R. Valentien — named for an early 1900s San Diego artist who created pottery, watercolors and oil paintings — also displays a collection of its namesake’s original works. Or you can head to the small bar between the Four-Star hotel's lobby and A.R. Valentien's entrance. The cozy spot has its own limited food menu.
To enjoy San Diego's gorgeous weather, opt to take your meal outside to A.R. Valentien’s patio. Sit on a wicker chair, warm up to one of the heat lamps, and nosh on dishes like prosciutto-wrapped sea bass with sugar snap peas, orange and roasted Tahitian squash while enjoying a view of the pool, Torrey Pines Golf Course and ocean.
For a more casual dining alternative, and one that’s more kid-friendly, head to The Grill. The eatery still has the Craftsman look, with wood everywhere, your choice of tables or semicircular booths, and an open kitchen. The menu mixes upscale dishes (New York Strip with green peppercorn sauce, potatoes fried in duck fat and arugula) with comfort food (a rich beef Stroganoff with pappardelle and slow-roasted Niman Ranch brisket doused with a mushroom cream sauce and a dash of sherry). Adjacent to The Grill’s main dining room is a bar, a bigger space than A.R. Valentien’s drinking spot. The wood-heavy room has stools lining the bar as well as tables and chairs. The Grill also has its own patio, but A.R. Valentien's is the better pick for alfresco dining.