Friday, November 28, 2008

San Diego restaurant- Confidential

San Diego’s best kept secret
It was like a page ripped from “Sex and the City”…except my mom was there. But then again, it was because of her visit that I managed to coax the girls downtown so I could try Confidential.

I had been salivating ever since I’d heard Chris Walsh, executive chef of Bite, was involved (kitchen now headed by, “Top Chef” contestant Richard Sweeney), where global tapas made up the menu and encouraged everyone to share. It was easy to see how this venue transformed into a chi-chi dance club as the night drew on with streams of purple and fuscia light crawling the drapery.

Sterile, silver railings led their way up to the loft, but we stayed on solid ground in a booth of white leather. The four of us squeezed in next to each other, since no one wanted the miniature stools (with no backs) that poked out from beneath the table. Seriously, they were up to my knee and would have put a severe damper on my dinner if I was forced to sit there for an entire meal. But I wasn’t, so we settled in like comfortable peas in a pod.

Tuesday: ALL night EVERYTHING is half price. Ok, I’m not talking just food. I’m talking cocktails, bottles of wine, EVERYTHING. Needless to say, we cleaned up on this deal.

Cocktails: ($6) F*@%#n’ Blackberry Bellini muddled berries with fresh lemon, Effen vodka and a splash of Roederer Estate Rose. It wasn’t syrupy sweet and the bubbles kept it light- I would come back for this alone.

Amuse bouche: Nadia, our attentive and adorable, Russian server brought us a little something to wake up the tastebuds- dried apricot with gorgonzola- I was pleasantly surprised by its fruity/ pungent match.

Dates: These had a date with my mouth, wrapped in bacon and stuffed with hunks of parmesan, but I only tasted disappointment when a noticeably smoky flavor hit my tongue. My fault- it did say applewood smoked bacon, but this was extra smoky- beware.

Sliders: All of us wanted lamb sliders, so we put in a few orders. Lamb’s true tang was present, but softened with a symbiotic yogurt sauce followed by a side of crispy deliciousness (garlic fries.)

Duck: Since they were out of the duck spring rolls, we went with the duck confit slider. This was somewhat of a let down after the lamb. The moo shu ketchup was way too sweet, but even without, I couldn’t have told you if it was duck or pulled pork. It was good, just not ducky.

Deconstructed pizza: A basket of parmesan flatbread appeared with three tumblers of toppings- warmed goat cheese, roasted garlic and oven roasted tomatoes- playful and tasty, but more of a snack spread than a pizza.

Check: Our bill was delivered in a small manila envelope (like the one holding answers in Clue) marked Confidential, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep this place a secret. The price was right and the lack of crowds on weeknights made going downtown a breeze (three hours free parking in Horton Plaza.) Before the masses came pouring in after realizing a Top Chef contestant was running the kitchen, I would be back while I could still get a little glamour for half the price.

Friday, November 14, 2008

San Diego restaurant- George's Rooftop Terrace

The lighter side of George - Curious?

It’s my mom’s first stop whenever she hits the west coast- George’s at the Cove (1250 Prospect St, La Jolla). Not the hoity-toity downstairs, but the open-air, ocean terrace with a view that leaves no doubt in her mind she’s in Southern California.

During this visit we had stupidly waited until Saturday, when the terrace is at its busiest. There weren't any open reservations when we called, so our estimated wait time was 45 minutes- it only took 20. Their addition of an upstairs bar had time passing all the quicker, as I barely had time to sip my pinot grigio before we were seated.

Cocktails: La Jolla lemonade- ruby red grapefruit infused vodka and lemonade. Now this could turn lemonade stands into a high commodity.
Daily special- blueberry infused vodka and lemonade- this was ok, but I’d stick with the original.

Seating: For the first time in all my visits, we got the bird’s eye view- a front row seat to the ocean with only a thin piece of glass separating us from the cliffs. This is the reason to come here - jagged cliffs, crashing waves and a seat among the palm trees.

We lucked out with the grub this time too.
Food: Tender lamb bites with peas, katamala olives and artichokes were served over penne in a red sauce - excellent. A scoop of minted ricotta sat like the cherry on a sundae, its clean creaminess completing the dish flawlessly.

Special du jour: Mahi-mahi with blueberry vinaigrette flaunted fruity/tart precision, matched well with Swiss chard and mashed potatoes. Light and summery - an ideal seaside lunch.

The best part: A bill that fit our budget. Though the selection is small- mostly burgers, salads and sandwiches- items range between $10- $15. In La Jolla this is unheard of, especially with a view like this. Sometimes the food is hit or miss, but the view consistently scores five stars.