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San Diego Restaurant Reviews


By Kelly Ranasinghe


Cuvee is a discovery… a serendipitous meeting in the midst of springtime. Nestled in the sun-soaked hills of western La Jolla, and guarded by white terraces and spring flowers so reminiscent of Southern France, Cuvee is as much a happy accident, as a restaurant of caliber.

From the grace and friendly charm of Cuvee’s staff, so tactfully demonstrated to this inelegant writer by a young Stacy, to it’s eighty-vintage strong wine list, Cuvee shelters it’s parishioners from society by inviting them to dine in an earth-bound cloud of hospitality, taste, and intimacy.

Cuvee’s menu is unlike the common place three or four page culinary milieu. On a single page, Cuvee’s menu is elegantly brief…ranging from several aperitifs (consider an Arugula Salad), to more complete entrees (For example, Duck Breast and Grilled Sausage on White Beans)..



Each selection is accompanied by a tactful wine suggestion, flanked with a wide range of vintages ranging from a Stag’s Leap Petit Syrah, to a Kanu. Yet despite the elegant brevity so akin to a restaurant from a Peter Mayle novel, the patron will not want for lack of selection.

Cuvee’s breadth of flavor ranges from a Black Mussel Gumbo, to a subtle lobster bisque, and does not neglect fowl, nor hoof. Indeed, this author was entranced with a superbly done braised beef guarded by flagettes of yellow squash and corgettes, while his companion ceased all conversation to direct her full attentions to a magnificently done salmon similarly posed upon a bed of mash.

Indeed, truth be told, written or spoken words cannot do justice to the level of expertise and attention which was paid to these meals.


Nor can words describe the care with which the concomitant wines are selected as companions to Cuvee’s dishes. Cuvee’s chef de cuisine, Chuck Samuelson, is a thirty-year veteran of the kitchen…and the master of two Cuvee’s, the latter in the sheltered city of Del Mar.

While the prices of Cuvee may be above the typical San Diego restaurant, the intimate nature of Cuvee, from it’s bask brown walls to the glow of evening candlelight at it’s tables, make this a perfect setting for friendship, as well as romantic trysts. For those sommeliers whose senses delight at fine cuisine, as well as a virtual plethora of vintages, Cuvee is the restaurant…and indeed, for those amateurs among us (myself included), who would not dare speak the work sommelier without the proviso “I’m not”, Cuvee hosts seasonal wine tasting in both it’s Del Mar and La Jolla residence.

At it’s heart, Cuvee in La Jolla is fine dining with comfort, elegance without stiffness, and intimacy without seclusion.

An attentive staff, a well written menu with neither too few nor too many selections, and a comprehensive wine list make this a fine experience.

For those who wish a quiet and memorable evening.

Certaintly, intimacy is virtually guaranteed, such is Cuvee’s stance upon quiet elegance that inside her walls, she quietly reminds patrons that this is a cell-phone free zone. Sacré bleu ! A restaurant which demands a stop to cellular conversation in southern California, let alone La Jolla ? Such a place must be fine indeed.
                                                                                                                                              Photos by John Leonffu



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