Share a Small-Bite Dish
Whether you’re sharing with family or friends, small-bite dishes can make the perfect appetizer or meal. Here, we’ve rounded up some favorite small bites from each of the Meritage Collection properties.
Bacara Resort & Spa
At Bacara Resort & Spa, Executive Chef Vincent Lesage says the mini tacos at Bacara Bar are very popular.
“The poke tacos are prepared with sashimi-grade tuna that we season a la minute with our signature poke sauce, cilantro and chopped shallots,” he says (see recipe sidebar). “We then put it in the taco shell and top it off with a cilantro and lemongrass aioli. We use micro cilantro and viola flower for décor. They are a great item to share.”
The lobster mini tacos are equally popular. “It’s Maine lobster cooked in a court bouillon,” Lesage says. “We season the flesh with fine herbs and a mix of mayonnaise, Meyer lemon juice and cream cheese.”
The Meritage Resort and Spa
Siena restaurant at The Meritage Resort and Spa recently rolled out a new menu.
“One of my new favorites is the grilled Spanish octopus, which is served with pickled piquillo peppers, crispy fingerling potatoes and a yuzu kosho aioli,” says Sous Chef Mackenzie Coleman. “Another great start to any meal is our side of crispy Brussels sprouts, which are fried crispy with pancetta and tossed with a roasted garlic aioli.”
At the more casual Crush Ultra Lounge, Coleman recommends the smoked maple and honey wings, served extra crispy with a side of chipotle aioli.
Balboa Bay Resort
Whether you’re dining at Waterline Restaurant or A&O Kitchen+Bar, you’re bound to find tasty sharable dishes.
“Waterline’s most popular shareable item is the house roll,” says Balboa Bay Resort Marketing Manager Kevin Gasparro, adding that the avocado fries—offered on the lunch and all-day bar menu—are a personal favorite. “They’re served with two dipping sauces—a curry and a tamarind. I’ve never met someone who isn’t blown away by them. They’re light and delicate.”
At, A&O it’s all about communal dining, Gasparro says, with 60 percent of the menu shareable. “Some of the most popular shareable items are the beer batter fries and the shishito peppers. The shishito peppers come with sea salt and are flash fried. They’re a great snack item and relatively light because there’s no batter on them.
“The beer batter fries are covered in cheese sauce, thousand island, bacon, green onions,” he adds. “They’re worth every calorie.”
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
“Being a hacienda-style property, we do a lot of Baja-inspired foods,” explains Director of Food & Beverage Danny Fancher. “Some of the shared items really popular here are the tacos. We do many styles of street tacos, including mahi-mahi, short ribs, lengua, carne asada and carnitas tacos. We pair those with craft beers from Mexico.”
Fancher says another popular shareable item is the ceviche. “We craft ceviche at Estancia a couple of different ways. One is a red snapper ceviche with avocado and chile cilantro, another is a shrimp and scallop ceviche.”
The ceviche is also paired with Mexican beers.
Paséa Hotel & Spa
“Hands down, the customer favorite has to be our grapes and burrata appetizer,” says Jannie Rudge of Tanner’s Restaurant. “The delectable dish consists of grilled garlic bread smothered with creamy burrata cheese and topped with blistered grapes. The grapes are grilled in order to concentrate their natural sweetness and are topped off with a Concord grape vinaigrette.”
Another Tanner’s favorite is the classic calamari. “This dish is lightly fried to perfection and is accompanied by shishito peppers,” Rudge says, “but what brings it all together and makes it downright delicious is the apricot sriracha jam.”
Another popular starter is the grilled peach flat bread, which is both sweet and savory. “We make our own dough each morning, grill it and top it with fire roasted peach chutney, mint pesto, grilled peaches, mascarpone cheese and then grill it again to bring all the flavors together before finishing it with a balsamic reduction,” Rudge says. “This is a good one to share, but after customers taste it, they often want it all for their own!”
Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort
At Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort, Executive Chef Noelani Planas recommends the poke with ahi/ono sashimi, wakame, tobiko and a ginger soy reduction served at Red Salt. “This is a signature item and people love this dish. The flavors blend well together. Seaweed salad and fish eggs complete the dish.”
Planas says the ahi sashimi “pizza” is another shareable favorite with house-made flatbread, Kalamata olives, tomato, wasabi aioli and sweet soy reduction
“Guests come to Hawaii to taste the fresh local fish,” Planas says. “The flatbread we make in house is thin and crispy. The ahi is sliced really thin like carpaccio. It’s lightly drizzled with sweet soy reduction and wasabi aioli.”
Poke Tacos at Home
Executive Chef Vincent Lesage of Bacara Resort & Spa shares the sauce that makes his signature mini poke tacos a guest favorite.
soy sauce 1 cup
water 1/2 cup
honey 1/2 cup
garlic 10 cloves
corn starch to taste
siracha 2 tablespoon
cilantro 1/2 bunch
lime 2 piece
ginger 2 tablespoon
green onion 1/2 bunch
Method: Place the soy, water and honey in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Thicken with corn starch and cool.
Place the reminder of the ingredients in a Robot Coupe processor and pulse until it becomes a paste. Add the soy mix, and rectify seasoning if needed.
Season the tuna with that sauce and place it in mini taco shell. Garnish with micro cilantro, crispy onion and viola flower.