Restaurants in LA: When visiting the Los Angeles coastal region, do yourself a favor and stop into Stones Restaurant at the Marina del Rey Marriott for a bite. This eatery delivers quality California cuisine in an upscale yet unpretentious atmosphere, serving as the culinary cornerstone for this hotel (read my full Marina del Rey Marriott review here).
While Stones offers a full menu for breakfast and lunch, I recently visited for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. From the exceptional service that began the moment I arrived at the hostess stand, to the relaxed and contemporary décor of its pool-side dining room, to the thoughtful menu offering something for everyone, Stones lived up to my high expectations.
My experience started with an escort to a secluded cabana-like room where a large private table and wall mounted flat screen TV awaited. Once settled in, I ordered a crisp glass of the Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine to duly prepare my palate for the four courses ahead. If a cocktail is your preference, Stones has quite a selection. In addition to an impressive selection of bottled and draft beer and wines by the bottle or glass, the spirits menu has drink classics like the CEO Martini with blue cheese stuffed olives, Mojito, and Margarita made with Don Julio tequila. Stones signature cocktails include a bevy of martinis like the White Grape, Coconut Lime or Cucumber Gin concoctions.
With libation in hand, it was now time to eat! From the starters menu my party ordered the Crispy Fried Calamari with a side of both the spicy tomato sauce and kung pao sauce. The crispy batter was light, flaky and well seasoned, while the calamari meat was tender, fresh and full of flavor. Each sauce was savory and perfectly complimented the seafood preparation.
We also ordered the Chilled Jumbo Shrimp served with a sharp horseradish cocktail sauce. Sweet, tender and well-cleaned, the giant shrimp were as satisfying as I had hoped for a restaurant this close to the ocean. Other standouts on the starter menu included the Ahi Tuna Stack with avocado and wasabi aioli, and the Truffle and Parmesan Potato Chips with onion dip.
We then moved on to the salad course, for which I ordered the classic Caesar salad. The romaine was decidedly crisp and fresh, the parmesan cheese was not overpowering for a pleasant and rare change, and the creamy dressing had just the right hint of garlic. For those who prefer a salad as an entree, Stones Grilled Steak and Blue Cheese salad with pepper bacon and a balsamic vinaigrette, or its Asian Salmon Salad with mandarin oranges, crispy wonton chips and wasabi soy vinaigrette, would fit the bill perfectly.
For my entrée course, I opted for the Rack of Lamb served with a robust black mission fig and cherry reduction and a side of fresh made, thick-cut potato chips. The meat was lean, tender and cooked to perfection, and the sweet and savory sauce - served to the side — offered a brilliant counterpoint. The potato chips were also an extremely satisfying side, with a deep crunch and unique seasoning that delivered a fabulous flavor profile.
The other guests in my party ordered the Filet Mignon with steak butter, garlic sautéed mushrooms, and crisp fries, and the Salmon Fillet served with warm green beans and potato salad in a mustard vinaigrette. I tried both and can tell you that the amply portioned, extraordinarily tender beef filet was also perfectly cooked to temp. The salmon fillet was firm, meaty and rich in natural flavor — hallmarks of top quality.
Other notables among Stones' entrée selections is the Pot Roast Short Ribs with roasted carrots and cheddar mashed potatoes; the Cornish Game Hen with mashed potato, wilted arugula, capers and tomatoes; and the vegetarian-friendly Rigatoni with spinach and mushrooms.
For dessert we indulged in Stones Warm Chocolate Cake with crème anglaise and strawberries as well as the Warm Apple and Walnut Cobbler, which was served piping hot and topped with vanilla ice cream. The Warm Croissant Pudding with vanilla caramel is another popular choice at the restaurant and at the top of my list for my next visit.
No matter what experience you're seeking — whether a cozy "date night" dinner for two, a group fine dining experience with colleagues, or a casual family dinner with the kids - Stones delivers.
Merilee Kern is JustLuxé.com's "The Luxe List" Executive Review Editor. She scours the luxury marketplace for new and captivating product, service and travel "musts." Submissions are accepted via e-mail at Merilee@JustLuxe.com. View all of Merilee's Luxe List articles from here (scroll to page bottom) and follower her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor.