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North County Trip Report

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Back in San Diego on vacation. Decided to try some old favourites and explore some new ones.

Day 1: MILLE FLEURS, in Rancho Santa Fe
The amuse, compliments of the chef, was rabbit in aspic with frisee. Started off nicely, but something salty caught me in the back of the throat and I could not enjoy the rest of it.

Appetizers: I had the tuna tartare, which was very nice. Can't remember what my wife had, but she enjoyed it.

Mains: I had the sauteed sweetbreads, which were perhaps the worst I have had. They were tasteless and swimming in a nondescript brown sauce with some kohlrabi. The creamy texture I value in sweetbreads was nowhere to be found. My wife had vegetable ravioli that was as exciting as drinking water, i.e. tasteless.

Dessert: Dessert was a pleasant pistachio layer cake.

Overall disappointing as we had previously had some good meals there.
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Day 2: CAVAILLON. Chose this resto because of good reports here.

The 5-course tasting menu was $58; $83 with wine. We chose the wine option.

Course 1: Foie gras au torchon, toasted brioche, dried prune mousseline. This was not a classic torchon in that there was fruit in the middle. Very nicely done. The mousseline was sublime. Went very well with the Sauterne. Wonderful brioche, but could have been warmer.

Course 2: Petrale sole a la plancha; organic artichoke risotto. Served with an Alsatian Sauvignon Blanc. The fish was cooked to perfection. There was a herb garnish that I could not identify, but was superb-tasting. The wine was a good match. A great course.

Course 3: Seared diver scallops, Basque crab ragout, fennel salad, red bell pepper emulsion. Served with a red Burgundy. I felt that there was too much going on in the plate and the components just did not come together. My wife thought that the dish was "disconnected". The wine, which I really enjoyed, did not seem to go with the rest of the dish. I did not enjoy the piquancy of the bell pepper emulsion.

Course 4: Braised pork cheeks Provencale, creamy polenta, Kalamata olives, basil oil. This was one of those "Oh my god!" moments ! The pork was moist, fork-tender, and very tasty. It was truly superb. The wine was a Malbec from Cahors. I overheard another diner describe the wine as "chewy" - a good description. It went well with the pork, which I will not forget in a hurry.

Course 5: Dessert. From the choices we had my wife chose the chocolate pastilla while I chose the pistachio profiteroles. The pastilla had am amazingingly intense chocolate flavour. I asked the lady serving us (the owner's wife?) what type of chocolate it was, and she said bittersweet from "Choko How" (spelling phonetically here) of Belgium; a google search turned up nothing. If anyone goes there soon I would appreciate the name as I am serious about chocolate. The profiterole serving was VERY generous - three crisp pastry cases filled with a very nice ice cream, and smothered in chocolate sauce.

One miss, but a wonderful experience, and worth the detour. Thank you Chowhounders for the recommendation.

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Day 3: KITCHEN 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar

This was our home base, and based upon good meals there before, we tried it again, again sharing a bunch of appetizers.

As before, nice oysters, good nettle risotto, good prawns, and succulent scallops. We also tried the sweetbreads, which we enjoyed, but I still think that braising is the best treatment for sweetbreads as it preserves the creaminess best. We also had a dish of pan-fried seafood that was not so successful. My wife has a piece of lobster, which she loved, but everything I had was chewy, so the waitress had them redo it. This time I had the lobster, which was great; everything else was a little less chewy than before, but chewy all the same.We shared a very nice creme brulee for dessert.

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As I said, I am serious about chocolate (the dark variety), so we tried Chuao chocolate. I liked the grignottine and the marzipan, but nothing else that I tried. The two praline-type chocolates were good taste-wise, but I did not like the gritty texture of sugar between the teeth.

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KITCHEN 1540
1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014

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  1. Thanks for the report back. Your dinner at Cavaillon sounded awesome!

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    Cavaillon Restaurant
    14701 Via Bettona, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127

    1 Reply
    1. re: DougOLis

      It WAS really awesome. It was one of only two outstanding meals in 12 days in California; the other was at Roy Yamaguchi's resto in Pebble Beach (review to come).

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      Cavaillon Restaurant
      14701 Via Bettona, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127