Grande Colonial Hotel
910 Prospect Avenue, La Jolla
In this casual-chic dining room, you feel like you're in Manhattan. You'll hardly notice this soignée ambience, though, once you plunge into Chef Michael Stebner's inspired cooking. His menu changes daily to reflect the most pristine products at market, but the menu often includes a starter that should be called "Sex on a Plate"-- sautéed foie gras paired with luscious poached figs and candied Florence fennel root. Another steady item is the exceptional "signature" lobster risotto. Most dishes are available as "small plates" or full-size entrées, so you can create your own tasting menu without overstraining your credit card. As dinner winds to an end, note that Jack Fisher (Stebner's long-time dessert chef, from their previous association at Azzura Point) has joined the kitchen crew, astonishing diners with unexpected pairings of fruits with herbs and spices.