San Diego's Bite- Once Bitten, Twice Try
Bite's top rate tapas demand a second round
We placed our name with the hostess and had just plopped on leather couches perfect for bouncing quarters when she reappeared to offer cocktails. Their list of infused sakes had me intrigued and I decided to feed my sweet tooth with a lemon drop (candied ginger and lemongrass infused sake) as another of my culinary cohorts chose a lavender/blueberry fizz for sipping more smooth than sweet (blueberry sake and lavender dry soda).
Our server Bryan with a “Y” ( Why? Because he likes you), made an astounding first impression with his amicable instruction on Bite’s family style, small plate celebrations and remained a non-intrusive, helpful presence throughout the meal. I was also a pushover for the small affection of an amuse bouche. Tonight’s one bite wonder- garlic bread-pudding topped with cherry tomato- music to the mouth.
“NO, look at this one! Did you see those?! I NEED that!” I squealed emphatically, fingering the menus of my mignon minions. We had been matched with one of the best edible collections I had seen in years and my only hope was that the listed heavyweights lived up to their hype. Round one: knock- out. Duck confit over spinach with cherry tomatoes, mangos and bacon-dijon vinaigrette lumped a pound of shredded duck in front of us to ensure no squabbles over shared portions. A “duck virgin” and those with prior foul experiences would benefit from this like a first rate opera- a fine art form thriving at its full potential- it made me want to stand up and sing an aria anyway.
Lamb meatballs arrived with a crisp, golden cake of polenta (a perfect example of its capabilities as a guilty, starchy pleasure) and a delicate red sauce that gave enough zip to act as yin to lamb’s tang. Yam gnocchi reinvented the wheel on my plate as I relished in the fact that gnocchi = potato, so why not have gnocchi= sweet potato? These pumpkin hued gobs of goodness were tossed with rock shrimp, hericort verts, hazelnuts and bathed in sage butter. My eyes pleaded, “More, sir,” as I handed my licked plate to Bryan.
The endorphins had taken a pounding, leaving my head fuzzy and lips freakishly upturned, but the allure of another small bite had my senses aroused. Round 2: Grilled fontina on a baguette with crimini mushrooms, thyme and roasted shallots was so comforting it made my feet ache for slippers. Chicken skewers wrapped in pancetta were salty treats with mashed acorn squash that had enough butter to make me realize eating your vegetables can be a very good thing. Short rib raviolis with red wine demi-glaze were mandatory and the rock shrimp pizza with purple potatoes and feta left my hubby with heaps of happy. Even intimidating contenders like duck pate with cherries and pistachios or smoked trout over potato pancakes became harmless shadows under the brilliance of their dainty delicacy- no bark, all bite.
(Side note: I cannot overlook, hands down, the best public restroom in San Diego. I wish there was an award for “top toilet” because the cascading candlelit pathway, brilliant fish tank and the cleanliness of Felix Unger in this urinary oasis deserves recognition. I’ll be drinking all the water I can just to have another go at the john.)
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