The interior of Drift, a newly opened restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla.
  • The interior of Drift, a newly opened restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla.
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My wife is vegetarian, so I’ve been seeking out restaurants with tasty meatless options. Her birthday was last week, and I was hoping to kick things up a notch by taking her to a place with good drinks, a nice atmosphere and, of course, decent food.

Drift

3777 La Jolla Village Drive, University City

I had heard decent things about Drift, a new place in the Golden Triangle. Since it’s right near popular places like Café Japengo, Truluck's, and Fleming's, I was hoping those places' reputations would rub off on Drift.

Instead? Well ... I’m glad I have a tolerant wife.

The patio of Drift at night.

The patio of Drift at night.

Drift has some modern furnishings, but the brightly lit interior screams, We have our breakfast buffet here! The mood outside is more conducive to fine dining, especially at night when the lights strung on nearby palm tree trunks are glowing.

Hotel restaurants can be destination spots for locals (as those nearby restaurants prove), but Drift is just a hotel restaurant as far as I’m concerned.

Drift's Cauliflower Casserole combines curried cauliflower with garbanzo beans and fresh vegetables.

Drift's Cauliflower Casserole combines curried cauliflower with garbanzo beans and fresh vegetables.

When I first saw the menu, the thing that stood out was the Cauliflower Casserole, made with curried cauliflower, garbanzo beans, and other vegetables ($18). My wife agreed.

Cauliflower and curry go great together. Usually. In this case, the curry didn’t “pop” out on the tongue and the flavor was flat, almost metallic. Maybe there was too much cream or something. It wasn’t worth $18.

The margherita pizza has mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and basil.

The margherita pizza has mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes and basil.

We nixed that dish and my wife chose the margherita flatbread pizza ($15), a simple mixture of tomatoes, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese.

This flatbread pizza left us flat.

Flatbread is supposed to be crispy. This was soft and doughy. The cheese was rubbery, and the blend of fresh tomatoes with an excessively sweet tomato sauce didn’t work. I think pizza makers should pick tomatoes or tomato sauce and not combine the two.

The Melon and Roasted Beet Salad has lots of arugula as well as chopped hazelnuts and red quinoa in a white balsamic vinaigrette.

The Melon and Roasted Beet Salad has lots of arugula as well as chopped hazelnuts and red quinoa in a white balsamic vinaigrette.

To be fair, my wife and I did enjoy the Melon and Roasted Beet Salad ($11) which had lots of arugula, some red quinoa, a decent amount of fresh melon, and hazelnuts, all with a white balsamic vinaigrette. There were a few roasted beets as well, but they were almost an afterthought — a glorified cameo. I could have done with half the arugula and a lot more beets — I think I counted eight of them.

The Giant Meatball combines beef and pork. It's served over polenta and seasonal vegetables.

The Giant Meatball combines beef and pork. It's served over polenta and seasonal vegetables.

I did enjoy parts of my Giant Meatball ($21), a huge mix of pork and that was served with a little bit of pomodoro sauce, over some roasted asparagus and carrot stalks, and thick lumpy polenta (which the waitress thought were potatoes).

I liked the meatball. I liked the veggies. I might have liked the pomodoro sauce if there had been more than a bit. I even would have tolerated the polenta, but they didn’t blend together well at all.

This is like a dish I put together with leftovers when I’m in a hurry — though the presentation was much better.

Drift opened about a month ago, and may be still finding its way. But based on my meal, some improvements need to be made or it will continue to drift along aimlessly.

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