First, thanks tku for the recommendation to Cafe Sevilla. Unfortunately, our concierge told us it excellent and was open for lunch, so we booked another place, Tapinade, in La Jolla, for dinner. Cafe Sevilla. turned out to be closed--next trip we get there for sure, it looked charming--and we ended up in a quite good Mexican place in the same district, but I forget the name; it was good but not remarkable.
However, Tapinade. It is a wonderful restaurant. As someone who has been to most of the places praised on this board, this was as good or better than the best meal I have had in any one of them. It was a Monday night, so the sous-chef rather than the chef was cooking. We began with an appetizer composed of a summer-squash veloute, savoy cabbage, morels (I think), and sauteed duck. Really marvelous, and it continued from there, through my lobster-tail entre, and a dessert of a hazelnut creme and pastry torte, caramel ice cream, and figs in a delicate wine sauce. It is well worth a ride to La Jolla for a visit. Price is comparable to Los Angeles. The seating and service is comfortable and unobtrusive. The place that comes to mind, same style of food (not ambiance as it was somewhat fancier) is Michael's Water Garden (I think that was the name) in Santa Barbara many years ago when it had not been open very long.
On the way home, we ate at Aubergine in Newport, which can be generously described as luxury-corporate. The less said the better. Maybe it was an off-night, but somehow I doubt it. They seem to have the routine, and I do mean routine, down to a tee.