A Taste for the Fine Life

Timing is truly everything. The timing of seasonal ingredients, paired with refreshing brews or invigorating wines, can enhance your senses for a unique culinary experience. The new local hotspot on our radar, which can help you with just that, is the Tasting Room Del Mar.

Owned by past CEO-tech guru David Taylor and entrepreneur son, Evan Taylor, in collaboration with Executive Chef and General Manager Steven Lona and Wine Director Rusti Gilbert, Tasting Room offers the most unique farm-to-table wine and beer restaurant in North County.

“We believe that food and drink are inextricably bound. We combine high-quality drinks, high quality food, and a wine cellar with retail options for beer and wine,” says Evan. “I had trouble finding a good place that I would want to go to. There is so much wine out there but with poor selection and staff that don’t know what they were selling,” explains David.

After David’s extensive background in Silicon Valley, as the co-founder and CEO of CineForm, his business interests shifted to wine. In 2014, he and a business partner opened Cordant Winery in Paso Robles. David always enjoyed drinking wine and wanted to share his passion for wine with his community.  As a result, at an early age, his son Evan, Tasting Room’s proprietor and Director of Sales, was immersed in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

In 2015, the amazing opportunity came up to open a boutique wine bar. What once were Bruegger’s Bagels and a flower shop is now the newly renovated Tasting Room Del Mar. Timing was everything for this prime location. “The Del Mar residents love it and connect with the location,” mentions David. “Our mission is to provide a fundamental place and style of service with fine products, creating a casual elegance.”

Having wine paired with small plates, and including beer tasting in the menu, set the foundation for when they met Executive Chef Steven Lona, who began in the restaurant industry in Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach, and eventually made his way to Del Mar’s seaside. In his role as the General Manager and Executive Chef at the Tasting Room Del Mar, his passion and love for food come through, implementing fresh ingredients and keeping the menu current with the changes in season.

“We’d like to invite future guests to indulge in the wine and beer dinners we offer once a month. They are full course, well thought out experiences where guests can meet winemakers and brewers,” says Chef Steven. The restaurant also hosts local music on Thursdays, and has participated in community events like the Del Mar Summer Solstice and Taste of Del Mar.

Wine is an essential part of the parings served here and with the guidance of sommelier Rusti Gilbert, who brings along her experience from other local establishments such as Addison at The Grand Del Mar, the extensive list of boutique wines at Tasting Room range from Europe, South America and California. Rusti hosts weekly educational sessions, pouring curated wines specific to the event and engaging with guests on the selection.

Highly recommended is their “Surrender Series”- a three-course tasting of plates paired with wines chosen by the chef. The pairings change almost daily and are often not traditional. Recent options included lamb belly with white Burgundy and local fish with Champagne. Chef Lona explains, “I write the food menu with my Chef de Cuisine, Jenny Goycochea. We both have a similar focus, which is why it works so well. We believe in cooking in a way that draws inspiration from the seasons and the farms. We often refer to our menu as ‘Modern Cooking, Local Harvest’.”

Also modern made local here is the architecture and design by passionate furniture artist Gustaf Anderese Rooth who blends design creativity and quality in his one-of-a-kind pieces. “I was having trouble finding off-the-floor furniture that met our aesthetic and space (size) requirements, so working with Gustaf allowed us to get all the details just right,” explains David.

“One example is the barrel stave bar stools that reinforce the wine and beer theme of our restaurant. They are made from high-toast (blackened) bourbon barrels. There is also a 12-person community table blending our desire for intimate seating for large groups, but also to encourage interaction with others at the table you might not know, all while reinforcing the design style that matched the theme of our restaurant. I think the community table is one of the hallmarks of our outdoor patio space!” TastingRoomDelMar.com