Pete, my dad and I were having dinner at The Whaling Bar at La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla last Tuesday night. I really don't understand why that place isn't packed every night. Maybe it's too old-fashioned or Eastern for Californians?
I LOVE that place. I'd so be a regular there if I lived in La Jolla. You know - it's all red inside with leather banquettes and dark wood. The dining area around the corner from the bar area has a fireplace flanked by life-sized ceramic cheetahs. There's all kinds of antique-y whaling implements and art-work on the walls and the staff is excellent. It's the place to go to get your Manhattan or gin Martini. They'll wheel up a cart and flambee you some Crepes Suzette or Cherries Jubilee at the end of your meal if you like. Not exactly a budget-friendly spot but I could stop in for a Manhattan a few nights a week if I lived there.
Okay, I'm off the subject which was our brush with fame.
So we're sitting in our booth in the dining area when all of a sudden some kind of alien vessel pulls up outside. All you can see through the restaurant's window is aluminum clapboards and round portholes. "What the heck is that?" we all declare. So does a waitress in the back of the room. Our waiter, also in the back of the room, answers her, "That's Neil Young's tour bus."
"Who is Neil Young?" replies the waitress who is probably twenty years old. Never mind that.
Pete, star-struck, gets up to go outside and look. I get up too but what I want to know is how that aluminum pod can be a tour bus. It turns out that it only appears to be alien if you can only see the middle. The back of the bus looks like a bus. It really does have clapboards too. Anyway, out comes Neil and family looking a little bit tired. They head in to the hotel.
Back at our table the waiter tells us that the Young family might be eating in the bar later and points to the table set up by the fireplace for a good-sized group. We tried to eat slower but we weren't slow enough. That was it for that particular brush with fame.
So now I'll tell you that if you're ever in La Jolla and can swing it La Valencia is a fantastic place to stay. It opened in 1926 and has a definite family feeling. It doesn't feel corporate at all. The pace there is slow, I believe because they want you to take your time and enjoy yourself. My New York relatives didn't like it much. It was schmancy enough for them (maybe) but I think they like their service more "Yes Sir! Right Away Sir!" snappy. I find the service there gracious rather than obsequious and that's what I prefer.
Ain't I something? Getting service! What I mean is, they act like people there, not service automatons. Some people like service automatons, I like people.
I also like lunch so I'm off!