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Sally's offers serenity, unique dining on the water

Sally's Seafood on the Water is one of several restaurants in Doug Manchester's landmark twin tower Grand Hyatt Resort, but it is the jewel in the crown. Lael's restaurant and Redfield's deli are both popular eateries. Top of the Hyatt offers stunning panoramic views from the 40th floor, a very romantic setting. There are bars and lounges scattered throughout the property. But for luxurious fine dining, Sally's is the perfect destination.

Sally's was built at sea level. The water is just steps away. An outdoor patio allows diners to enjoy sunshine and sunsets.

For me, dining at Sally's was like visiting an old friend whom one hasn't seen for a long time. I hadn't dined there for about two years and I was delighted to be there again. The changes were exciting.

The overall look and feel of the interior had not been altered. The ceiling was still black, disappearing in dim evening light to create a sense of height and volume. Pencil spotlights illuminated tabletops, creating islands of light. Ribbons of pinlights wrapped around trees, looking like stars within reach. The setting is chic, sophisticated, scenic yet tranquil. Sally's offers a zone of peace and quiet from the dramatic hum of nearby downtown business, legal and commercial centers. One may relax into quiet contentment to enjoy the wondrous creations emerging from the kitchen.

Sushi is now offered, prepared by Chef Nilyuk Kim, affectionately known as Kaza. His work is masterful, honed by two decades of experience in excellent sushi restaurants ranging from San Francisco to Grand Cayman. His menu includes hand formed sashimi of tuna, albacore, red snapper and salmon. His artistically presented rolls include K's-Style Philly, a combination of salmon and cream cheese, wrapped by rice, dillweed and capers. His Crunchy Crab combined rice, fried soft shell crab, avocado and cucumber wrapped by nori seaweed. His creations are unique and his flavors are subtle and satisfying. He even mixes his own soy sauce, with his "secret formula."

There is a new, delightful and outstanding chef at Sally's Chef Sarah Linkenheit. Although she grew up and trained in Germany, her English is flawless, with a mid-Western drawl. She traveled, learning and working at major five-star resorts in Switzerland and Colorado. Before coming to San Diego, she worked at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, developing her style and signature dishes.

Sally's is one of the few restaurants that offers a "chef's table" a unique dining experience where the chef is a participant at the dinner, explaining each dish on the special menu and often demonstrating how it was prepared. The chef often joins in at the feast. Given Chef Sarah's outgoing personality, her chef's table has got to be a memorable time.

Her menu entrees allow her to demonstrate her skill and ingenuity. The Lobster Pot Pie is beautifully presented, a combination of Canadian lobster tails, soybean, vegetables and boursin cheese covered with a puff pastry. The Cumin Chili Crusted Diver Scallops have a delightful lime glaze that adds a hint of sweetness to the firm texture. Garlic Crusted Moonfish -- a firm fish with a texture similar to shark but actually even firmer -- was superb with a vanilla sauce and balsamic reduction.

Chef Sarah demonstrates her ability with meat as well as fish. The Miso-Gorgonzola Crusted Beef Tenderloin had subtle oriental flavoring that was different and satisfying. Grilled Rack Of Lamb with a Guiness glaze not only tasted superbly but also looked so good, large chops beautifully marbled and prepared.

Sally's wine list is offers a variety of excellent California and Oregon wines and a good deal. I enjoyed 2005 Orogeny Pinot Noir from Russian River that was available by the glass -- a heavy bodied pinot that had a strong finish.

I found service to be outstanding. Our server had several good suggestions and was helpful. Dishes were cleared quickly and unobtrusively. It was easy to relax and be pampered by the service.

As if there weren't a thousand reasons to come back to Sally's repeatedly, new Sallycentives programs offers cash rewards to patrons. Spend $500 and receive $50 credit toward food and beverages. With the amazing cuisine, wonderful ambiance, daily happy hour and views, the incentives are icing on the cake.

Sally's Seafood On The Water is located at One Market Place, next to Seaport Village. Validated parking is available. Valet parking costs $3 with validation. Prices are moderate to expensive, but deservedly so. Call (619) 358-6740 for more information and reservations.


Rottenberg is editor of Dining San Diego Magazine and member of the California Restaurant Writers Association. Send comments to the editor@sddt.com. All letters are forwarded to the author and may be used as Letters to the Editor.

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