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During my visitations to a vast array of high-end restaurants, I have confronted my share of disappointments, in my effort to separate the chafe from the wheat. For example, on a cold January day when my mother was visiting from out of town, we planned to lunch at Bernard'Os, a restaurant in northern San Diego County, while I reviewed its baby-friendliness for this site. Aware that the restaurant stopped serving lunch at 2:00 p.m., we woke up my toddler early from her nap, bundled her up, placed her in the car seat, and arrived there at 1:40. As we wheeled my toddler into the restaurant, which was about half-filled with people seemingly enjoying leisurely lunches, the front hostess abruptly approached us and declared that lunch was over. The customers at their tables looked far from ready to leave, and it seemed that it would not have been difficult for her to seat us, but she clearly did not want to. It felt a bit discriminatory. I noticed that there were not any toddlers or young kids in the restaurant, so perhaps they did not encourage parents of the younger sets to dine there. I was eight months pregnant with my next child at the time, which heightened my fatigue and hunger, and I felt a sad realization that we would have to refold the stroller, put my daughter back into the car seat, and look for another restaurant in the outside chill. Meanwhile, the hostess was anxiously shuffling us out the door.

It was necessary to experience a few bummers like this one along the way in developing my own list of the best romantic, family-friendly destinations. Not all restaurants and resorts can be accommodating and wonderful, after all! The good news is that while I at times had to wade into unknown culinary waters hoping for the best, you will not have to do this with at your disposal. For instance, if you are in the San Diego area looking for an upscale dining experience that is also amenable to your family, I have recommended several excellent choices so you would not have to blindly walk into a restaurant and end up feeling uncomfortable.

For example, Azzura Point restaurant, located in Loews Coronado Bay Resort, tops my list. This restaurant has been rightly touted for its romantic ambiance that includes a panoramic view of the Coronado Bay Bridge and the San Diego skyline. The food is masterfully prepared like savory artwork by the then Chef de Cuisine, Michael Stebner, who comes out to greet many of his guests. At this restaurant I found a staff extremely attentive to the needs of my baby, starting with the pleasant maitre d', Kate Lidner, who happily greeted my husband and I at the front entrance, welcoming, rather than scowling at, my baby in her stroller.

If your experience resembles mine, you will find a staff that rushes to assist you with the needs of your youngster--whether you need hot water to warm a bottle, or help maneuvering your stroller up the three steps in the restaurant. The soothing music played calmed the baby to sleep. The spacious room provided large table space a good distance from the next table, so that neither you nor your baby are cramped during your meal. The luxurious, sofa-like booths actually provide large pillows for your comfort, and also seem perfect for cradling a baby or holding a young child on your lap.

The wines that accompany each course with the fixe prix menus are varied and excellent. I ordered the Chef's Menu, a six-course meal at $75.00, along with the optional wines brought with each course for an additional $35.00. This unforgettable dining experience started with osetra caviar, followed by Maine lobster risotto, then seared turbot, leading to the roasted Muscovy duck breast, followed by a very French style cheese course, and finally a vacherin of Bartlett pear. The accompanying wines were impressive, particularly the Perrin, a sweet, white wine brought with the Bartlett pear dessert. Lovers of dessert wines will also love their Banfi, a sweet, red wine. Stebner, who had been at Azzura Point for over two years at the time of my visit, exhibited an aromatic use of spices in each flavorful course.

Azzura Point is the crystallization of high-class romance and family-friendliness combined in one dining experience. directs you to other exceptional dining choices in the San Diego area, for example, both of the fine restaurants found at Carlsbad's Four Seasons Aviara, Vivace or California Bistro, or the restaurants at the La Costa Resort and Spa, particularly Pisces. You do not need to be a guest at these resorts to dine at their restaurants.