The good news? There are lots of unique things happening, so it’s a wonderful time to explore what’s new in your backyard. At the newly renovated Westfield UTC, there are two places you’ll want to add to your “must see” list. We wanted to see firsthand what the new changes looked like, so we turned it into an all-day adventure.
Our first stop was to indulge our hunger pangs, so we headed over to Seasons 52, a popular, new-to-San Diego restaurant concept that specializes in fresh, low-calorie options for lunch and dinner. The expansive menu changes four times a year and nothing is more than 475 calories, from the custom flatbreads to the mouth-watering entrees like the cedar plank roasted salmon and caramelized sea scallops. This restaurant is a real treat for people who appreciate flavorful foods but don’t want to feel guilty afterward. One of our favorites was the organic salmon with fresh farmers market vegetables. The Sonoma goat cheese ravioli and the mesquite-grilled Piedmontese strip steak were also delightful. If you have a sweet tooth like us, you’ll be happy to know that the 475-calorie rule also extends to its award-winning mini indulgence desserts, which come in almost any flavor you can think of, including key lime pie, carrot cake, pecan pie (our favorite!) and chocolate peanut butter mousse. The desserts are small in portion and served in a shot-size glass so they look harmless but beware — they are deliciously decadent and filling!
As for the restaurant’s ambiance, we found it to be warm and inviting, casual but classy. The interior’s earthy tones, rich-wood accents and soft lighting add to its unique appeal. We especially liked its private dining room, which is perfect for corporate groups looking for private space, and the outdoor dining area, which is charming with its urban fire tables and customized lounge seating. www.seasons52.com
With our appetites fully satisfied, what better way to round out the evening than to check out a movie at the brand-new ArcLight Cinemas? As longtime moviegoers, we thought we had seen it all. But this is truly unique and the type of experience everyone should have at least once, if not more. Unlike some theaters that are cramped and frenzied, ArcLight is all about comfort, catering to the moviegoer. Although customers can buy their tickets upon arrival, moviegoers are encouraged to buy and reserve their seat in advance, which eliminates the mad rush of waiting in line and rushing to save seats.
As a result, moviegoers did seem more relaxed and because they knew exactly where they were seated, there wasn’t any awkwardness of trying to figure out which seats were still available. We actually did not buy our tickets to “Silver Linings Playbook” in advance but fortunately, we had a helpful staff member walk us through the process. When we finally entered the theater, we were impressed with the ample legroom, soft cushy seats, not to mention the large screen and crystal-clear sound system. The theater even had a new car smell to its shiny new interior.
ArcLight’s 14 screens feature stadium seating, so there are no bad seats. Our theater seated less than 100 people, giving it an intimate feeling, with ushers on hand to guide guests to their seats. Viewers who get annoyed by excessive talking, texting and late arrivals disrupting their experience will be happy to know ArcLight has a very strict policy when it comes to disturbing the peace: they simply don’t tolerate it.
Our recommendation? Become an ArcLight member so you can take advantage of the theater’s loyalty program, which awards savings and points that can be redeemed for purchases in the sit down café, bar, gift shop or for tickets. www.arclightcinemas.com — Marc & Darlynne Menkin are the co-owners of Where You Want To Be Tours. Many of their tours and teambuilding scavenger hunts feature secret La Jolla areas. www.wheretours.com