Recent account of Georges Modern
This is a pretty lengthy account of some of the dishes we ordered a la carte. I believe most of the menu is still the same.
Review with pictures is here: http://www.rodzillareviews.com/2011/0...
"A quick note on service: it was among the best I’ve had. Course timing was perfect, and glasses were never empty. At one point, a dropped utensil was replaced so quickly that the original the ground.
The view is amazing, the entire back wall of the modern dining area is comprised of large glass windows overlooking the ocean. Our party arrived at sunset and dined beyond it, as the lighting in the photos will show.
House Bread - Salts
The bread basket arrived with a trio of salts. A sole bread offering may appear like an afterthought, but I had to restrain myself from filling up on the fully flavored multi-grain and smoked sea salt.
Date Salad - arugula, goats cheese, walnuts, pomegranate vinaigrette
Meaty dates and walnuts provided some substance to the otherwise delicate salad. The pomegranate dressing was very sweet and paired particularly well with the slight tang from the goat cheese.
Smoked Foie - pickled plum puree, beets, marinated kombu
I much prefer seared foie as opposed to terrine or pate but I still enjoyed this. The presentation highlighted the lighter more delicate side of foie. A hint of smoky salinity, to go along with the sugary plum puree and large beat sections.
The menu description notes, “hard to explain, just try it” and I would suggest anyone visiting does. Having been featured on Food Network’s Best Thing I ever Ate, this is a dish the restaurant is known for, and it did not disappoint.
Smoked Eggplant - ricotta fritters, zucchini artichoke salad
Moving on to entrees, this was an item from the vegetarian side of the menu. The ricotta fritters were main component of the dish, a crisp outer shell which led way to a light ricotta interior. The smoked eggplant was actually found in the base emulsion, which added an extra savory note when paired with the milder ricotta.
Local Yellowtail - carrot-miso puree, bok choy, tangerine butter
This yellowtail arrived just seared and perfectly rare. The supporting elements to go with the flaky, buttery fish reminded me of some of my favorite meals. The carrot-miso puree was as authentic a carrot flavor as the one I had at Salt of the Earth. Next, the unlisted honshemeji mushrooms, which became a favorite after I first tried them at Notion. A standout regardless of the fond memories.
Maine Lobster Seafood Stew - toasted pasta, marcona almonds, orange aioli
Our waiter mentioned there was only one stew left for the evening – of course it was ordered. The picture above does not show the sheer size of the dish, with enough seafood to represent a quarter of the pacific (lobster, mussels, shrimp) and all of it expertly prepared. Whole marcona almonds added a great texture to the more supple pearl pasta, and the sweet creamy orange aioli meddled the slight tang from the tomato broth.
Peanut Butter Rice Pudding - bananas, crispy wild rice, graham cracker streusel, cocoa crumbs, roasted banana sorbet
With the components listed I was expecting a knockout. But this was one actually did not turn out to be particularly memorable. The crispy rice was a bit too hard, and I didn’t get a particularly strong flavor from any of the components.
Cardamom Doughnuts & Dip - pistachio whipped cream, pineapple- curry marmalade, vanilla-rose syrup, white chocolate-saffron sauce
Doughnuts were much more successful. The dessert would have been fine if the pillowy light pastries were served solo, but the “make your own” set-up took it to another level. I’m not ashamed to say I finished any left over accompaniments with my spoon, and probably would have drank the rose water if the waiter had not cleared the table (kidding..almost)."
Georges California Modern
1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
great review! thanks for posting this - my experiences upstairs on the Terrace were forgettable (i think that's what generates most of the "touristy" knocks), but i've always enjoyed excellent food and top-notch service in the dining room. i haven't been there in quite some time since i moved away from SD, but i recently sent friends from LA to George's for a special dinner, and they absolutely loved it.
We recently returned to georges and really enjoyed our experience. I loved the beautiful plating, and the flavors were amazing, I also loved the fish tacos. I particularly liked the lighting in the dining room, the room itself was quite dark, but they used spotlights to light up the table, which worked really well for me. I've found a lot of restaurants are so dark you can hardly see the food!
Just as a point of reference, I also went there about 2 months ago and my experience was drastically different: http://www.gastrobits.com/2011/04/geo...
When I first moved to San Diego, I was still a closet foodie. Upon doing some research, the fine dining restaurant that seemed to be the consensus best restaurant was George's California Modern (better known just as George's). Being the closet foodie, I feared that by going there I was way ahead of myself in my ability to appreciate the food, and developed almost an Eleanor-like trepidation about the place. Fast forward to today and I had still never been to George's.
George's kitchen is run by Trey Foshee, a graduate of CIA Hyde Park. His style emphasizes the flavors of that which are fresh and local. As such, the produce at George's is sourced from Chino Farms, and the menu makes no secrets about hiding that fact. Chef Foshee was named one of America's Ten Best New Chefs in 1998 and a James Beard House Guest Chef.
One of the little-known things about George's is that there's actually a 7 course tasting menu for $95 (George's also offers a 5 course tasting menu for $65 which everyone knows about). Apparently the 7 course menu is so unknown that when I called to make reservations for the 7 course menu two weeks in advance, the special events director that I was direct to was unaware of it. However, she did go check with the kitchen and then confirmed that they do in fact have a 7 course menu. Furthermore, when I inquired more about the tasting menus, I was assured that I would be able to pick some dishes that I definitely wanted off the main menu and the chef would be sure to incorporate those into the tasting.
Excited that I would get to pick the highlights of the meal, I set about studying the menu of the restaurant prior to arriving so I could determine which wine to bring. I was even called to confirm my reservations and asked during the confirmation if I was still interested in the 7 course tasting menu. Because I figured I would have some command of the menu, I confidently selected a Spanish Red, which would otherwise be very dangerous to bring to a seafood establishment. Upon our arrival, the waiter asked what we would be having and I informed him that I would like the 7 course tasting and that I had 3 of the courses I wanted. He diligently wrote down my requests and went to check with the kitchen if my request could be accommodated. However upon his return, I was informed that I was not allowed to order the 7-course menu and that I had "not called early enough" to arrange the menu. To add insult to injury, I would not be allowed to select any courses from the menu because the tasting menu for the night was solidly prix fixe. Of course this caused even more problems because one of my companions had a dining restriction against pork, which was the main course of the evening. Luckily, the waiter confirmed that a substitution to a hangar steak was an option for this course. Despite feeling like I had arranged to go on a date with Bait and Switch to end up on a double date with Conflict Diamond instead (see 5:40 of video), we went ahead and ordered the 5-course tasting menu.
Update: I was contacted by the General Manager of George's to say that I should try the "Chuck Eats Tasting Menu" and to get that menu, should contact the restaurant at least 4 days in advance and not dine on a weekend. Furthermore the reservation should be made specifically with their Director of Sales, Kristine Fogarty.
Crab with picked ramps on top of shaved radish and bits of apple
This course failed as an amuse. Because of the way it was composed, it was very difficult to get all the elements into my mouth in a single bite at once. Once the elements were in my mouth, I felt like there were too many vegetables and the flavors formed a dissonant chord rather than the harmonious one. I also felt like the course lacked some salt (at least in the crab) to bring out some more flavors.
"Inside Out" Fish Tacos
After being featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the food network, this dish has received a lot of attention, and rightfully so. The fish for the day was yellowfin tuna, but the waiter informed me that the fish changes daily based on whatever would work the best. A tune tartare filling is wrapped in a sliced tuna shell with bits of fried corn on the outside and the dish is accompanied by a piece of fried avocado.
This dish was the best dish of the night - the flavors were outstanding and there was both hot and cold contrast and textural contrast in the dish. The oil of the fish was well-complemented by the oil in the avocado. The cilantro added a very good freshness to the dish as well.
My only complaint about this dish is that while it was a great dish, it was not a "wow" dish for me. I feel like I have eaten the elements of this dish before, but it is more evolutionary (to include texture contrast) than revolutionary.
Smoked foie gras - picked plum puree, beats, marinated konbu
This was another successful dish. One of my companions had a bad experience with foie gras (goose) in the past and was fearing that she wouldn't like this dish. However, the foie gras (duck) in this convinced her that she just had one bad experience. The marinated konbu was a nice compliment to the foie gras and the beats. I didn't really understand the picked plum puree as the sweetness of it was covered up by the sweetness of the beats, and there really wasn't enough of it to add much flavor. The slice of ginger added a nice small spice kick.
As for minor nitpicks, the flower didn't really make sense to me in this dish, and the large piece of ginger didn't make much sense either. I feel like mincing the ginger and integrating it more in the dish would have made more sense than just sticking a large slice there.
Porcini-Glazed Bone-in Halibut - peas, asparagus. braised radish, Meyer lemon yogurt
Although there are many incarnations of the dish, the halibut at George's seems to be considered the signature dish, and has both been much maligned and praised. I fall into the camp of hating it.
First the good stuff; what I noticed immediately when this dish arrived was that the aroma of the halibut was heavily prevalent and that the dish could be experienced with smell much before taste. The halibut was cooked well, as were all of the vegetables.
Despite good cooking technique, this dish fell flat. While the individual components were made well, I didn't understand the big picture of the dish. The peas were bathed in the Meyer lemon yogurt and I didn't feel like they taste worked at all. The long green leafed herb was overpowering in the dish. After eating the small spring with a bite of halibut, I only tasted the herb.
Cider Braised Pork Belly and Slow Roasted Loin - Chino Farms Greens, blue cheese,
caramelized onion arancini
I took one bite of the loin and another of the pork belly and sent this dish back. Whoever seasoned it was very heavy-handed with the salt, and the only thing I could taste was salt. I had to drink one and a half glasses of water after the two bites to recover my palette from the salt overload.
After the pork was removed, we were informed the chef decided to substitute with the hangar steak.
Fourth Course (take two):
Prime Hangar Steak
Before getting into the steak, let me point out that the companion with the pork dining restriction was served this at the same time as the pork. When the pork was removed, the companion's hangar steak was not removed. This made it so that one person at the table was eating while the rest were watching him eat. By the time the replacement entrées were brought, the first person had finished eating. At this point he was forced to watch the rest of the table eat.
The steak was cooked very well, and the hangar cut imparted a lot of natural flavor into the beef. The greens with shitake complimented the steak very well, but the mashed potatoes were a failure. They potatoes had a smoky flavor to them, but the smoke was more of an acrid and offensive smoke than a gentle infusion of smoke. Furthermore, it seemed like the temperature of the potatoes was not correct as I found clumps in the potato that made the texture unpleasant as well. The half baby carrot also didn't make sense to me as the flavor didn't really contribute much to the dish.
Red Wine Compressed Chino Farms Strawberries - goat cheese espuma, lemon balm, baby brioche, black pepper sorbet, strawberry dust
My first bite into this was one of immense satisfaction as I felt the dessert had captured the essence of strawberries. My second bite included some of the goat cheese, which I felt complimented the strawberry, but mellowed the flavor somewhat. My third bite included some of the sorbet, and I was almost forced to spit out the food. The black pepper flavor of the sorbet was so compressed that the pepper gave a huge offensive peppery kick to what otherwise should have been sweet and delightful. The sorbet was akin to inviting a heavy metal guitar soloist to launch into a solo during the climactic moments of a classical symphony.
By the time I had removed the sorbet from the dish, my palette had been contaminated by the pepper. Each bite no longer tasted as good as the previous ones and the dish was ruined.
awesome to have you comment Karaethon, I've read your reviews and eve commented once or twice (I'll be sure to do so more often).
Your time did seem to be a miss overall, but there were a few saving graces and I had seen so much praise that I still had it high on my list. I would like to go back for the chef's tasting. I know that Chuck and UE were recently in town for a visit. Perhaps we will see some new dishes soon.
The part that annoys me about what Chuck and UE got is that it's not on the normal menu.
It seems to me that if a restaurant is capable of serving awesome food like that, it should be on the menu for everyone to enjoy and not be something that you have to specially arrange ahead of time. It was definitely nice that Chuck included the information of how to set up such a reservation though.
For those interested in the TBL3 experience at Georges, here is what we had:
Pictures here: http://goo.gl/W637E
Amuse - Beet, turnip, carrot
We began, as before, with a trio of small bites. Set in the middle of the table were skewers of soft beet swathed in yogurt and crispy quinoa - creamy and tangy, with a very mild beet flavour (I would actually have preferred a more pronounced preparation). Next, the most exquisitely cooked turnip I've ever had, topped with a brunoise of apple and bacon. Finally, a light carrot-orange soup, scented with star anise and topped with a delightful chervil foam - liquorice on liqourice.
Chino farms crudité
Ricotta, seaweed toast
Our next bite was a striking mini-garden of raw and pickled produce - carrot, cucumber, radish, broccolini, orange cauliflower, red cabbage, broccoli stem, persimmon, celery, red onion, celtuce, turnip, parsnip and purple mustard greens (and I'm sure we must have missed some). Each sliver was so distinct and full of character - it was painfully good.
Aji, fluke, hamachi, caviars
Excellent fish. Everyone found the pairing of fluke and sturgeon caviar expectedly delicious, but I found the hamachi with finger lime achieved an impeccable balance of acid, salt, and sweetness. The aji, dominant as always, overpowered its partner and was better complemented by the traditional sliver of shiso hiding between its flesh. A thoughtful touch was the tiny smear of finger lime between each fish - a very effective palate cleanser.
Local spiny lobster
Daikon, ginger, coconut-sweet potato pudding, avocado
My dish of the night - a terrific showcase for the exorbitantly priced San Diego spiny lobster. Its sweet flesh was highlighted by paper-thin shaved daikon cured in garlic. The pudding was so well-balanced, I wanted to eat a bowlful of it. The element that really put this dish over the top was the ginger flowers, filled with their aromatic nectar - so fresh that one of us had the tiniest caterpillar crawl out of her flower onto the plate!
Smoked foie gras, white soy marshmallow, orange
The brilliance of the previous dish made this one all the more disappointing. There were radishes, bunapi shimeji, seaweed, petals of rose geranium and Aspiration - all in a moat of miso soup. The dish was tepid, without any temperature contrast and the daubs of orange strongly overpowered the other components as they dissolved in the broth.
Uni, poached egg
Côte de bœuf jus, grilled levain
Parsnip six ways
I enjoy dishes that explore the possibilities of an ingredient. Here, parsnips were prepared in six textures with various flavours - (i) braised with duck jus to tender perfection; (ii) as an espuma with coffee (my favourite); (iii) dehydrated; (iv) in a snappy apple-parsnip slaw with parsnip leaves; (v) simply roasted; and (vi) rather banally fried.
Onion, truffle, Comté, white mushrooms
I believe Trey has mentioned in the past that this course was inspired by a similar preparation from Shinichi Sato. The tender onion, its melting layers interleaved by slices of black truffle, was amazing. It sat on a bed of shaved Comté and white mushrooms - the nutty saltiness of the cheese was perfectly complementary to the other components. Finally, the aroma of more truffles shaved tableside by Trey made us heady with glee.
Oregon Troll King Salmon
Cauliflower, green grapes, seaweed, ikura
Squab, persimmon, broccoli, buckwheat, brown butter
Really, really good. I feel the need to stop using superlatives in this post, but credit must go where it's due. The honeyed notes of the persimmon paired wonderfully with the lean and earthy squab. Both were offset by the vegetal broccoli, and some crispy buckwheat kept textures interesting. Uncomplicated, and a total success.
I dubbed this "venison a la roadkill" - it reminded me of dish we had at Moto some years ago (photo from Foodspotting). A smoked beet puree was refreshingly acerbic, and I enjoyed the syrupy raspberry and blackberry in red wine reduction with the piece of venison. Rounding things out was a segment of soft red cabbage. Again though (and I know I'm beating a dead horse), I'm not enthusiastic about large pieces of meat ending the savory section of a meal (Asian sensibilities?
Citron ice cream, Buddha's hand, tangerine foam
Pepitas, white chocolate
Great start to dessert - the citruses played nicely against the pepitas and sweet white chocolate. I haven't found citron to be commonly used outside Asia and the Middle East, but the aroma of this ancient fruit (I believe it may be one of the oldest citrus species) is unique and enticing. Buddha's hand is in fact merely a cultivar derived from the original citron (they are the same species), but I am a sucker for its pith, which inexplicably reminds me of apricots.
Honey cake and semifreddo
Pineapple, ancho, marcona almonds, yogurt, caramel
Even better than the previous course, this was my favourite dessert. Everything was impeccably matched - from the airy semifreddo, to the hit of heat from the ancho, to the fresh notes of the micro cilantro. It hit all corners of our mouthes. I was particularly enamored by the smoky tartness of the tamarind syrup accenting the other components. This was a dish for people who shy away from rich or saccharine desserts - perfect for the two of us.
Hot cocoa, milk chocolate, mint
Mignardises - Sesame and gingerbread truffles
Gift - Fuyu persimmon
I went to the dinner with shouzen, but I guess my review can fill in some of the gaps where he didn't say much about the course.
Full review with photos: http://www.gastrobits.com/2011/12/tbl...
In my last trip to George's California Modern, I had some issues with communication in what I expected from the restaurant. While it wasn't necessarily a direct result of my experience, the TBL3 experience at George's was born following my visit for customers to allow the restaurant to know they wanted the best available high end dining experience.
The rules for TBL3 read as something fairly draconian:
If you’re interested in reserving a TBL3 experience, call Kristine Fogarty at 858.454.4244. TBL3 is available for six people maximum (two minimum) on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings with a seven-day advance notice required. The cost is $180 per person for 12-to-14 courses, $260 with beverage pairings, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are non-cancellable. Seating for TBL3 is 8:00 p.m. or prior.
However, Yao @ Insert-food had previously done the TBL3 experience and was not deterred from bringing me along with him for a second experience.
As I stated last time, George's for me has been my Eleanor. I was hoping that perhaps this time my experience would be problem-free. The first issue we encountered was that when we informed the front of house that one of the diners had an allergy to broccoli, we were told that this type of experience does not adjust to dietary restrictions. Luckily while broccoli was served, it was easy enough to remove from the plate of the affected individual.
TBL3 menu - click for larger image
This was my first serious excursion with a new camera and I'm still working out the kinks. I found the photo quality high, but I hope to improve it even more over the next few months
beet - yogurt quinoa
turnip - apple, bacon
carrot-orange soup - star anise, chervil
The beet course was more about the texture of the toasted quinoa in contrast to the texture of the beet. The yogurt served as a neutral "glue" for the two components. The quinoa preparation was very surprising to me as the toasty nuttiness of the quinoa was balanced with the slight sweetness of the beet.
The turnip course was shaved ribbons of turnip molded into the square and topped with the apple and bacon. This preparation was extremely impressive with the technical execution of such fine cuts as well as the final flavor profile. The apple and the bacon had the correct mixture of sweet, sour, smoky, savory, and texture.
Of the three items on the first plate, I found the carrot-orange soup the weakest. However, it was still a great dish. The chervil foam was the flavor that I really gravitated to in the soup and I actually wished there was more of it.
seaweed toast - house made ricotto, Chino Farms crudite
vegetable composition (not in order): carrot, red cabbage, cucumber, radish, celery, orange cauliflower,
celtuse, turnip, parnsip, persimmon, purple mustard
The seaweed toast course was extremely enjoyable. All the flavors of the in-season vegetables were on display in their full glory. The presentation was also striking to me. When taking the first bite, the flavor that shone through was mostly the nori toast. The second bite featured a big pop in sweetness where the vegetables actually overpowered the flavor of the toast. I greatly preferred the second bite to the first, and especially enjoyed the orange cauliflower. It seems like the course was designed to eat in one bite, yet it is too large to consume all at once.
fluke, aji, hamachi caviars
aji - konbuto caviar
fluke - sturgeon caviar
hamachi - finger-lime caviar
Overall, I was really impressed by this dish. The hamachi course was really carried by the quality of the fish itself, but the finger lime caviar added a nice hit of acidity to really even out the oils of the hamachi. The fluke was mainly carried by the quality of the sturgeon caviar, but it still served as a wonderful vessel for delivering the product. The inclusion of some baby red onions really added the nice hit of acid needed to balance the dish as well. The cucumber spheres inside the sturgeon caviar brought out some freshness that really heightened the caviar itself. The black sheep of the course was the aji; the fish itself had a little too fishy of an aftertaste to it, and the caviar didn't really contribute anything additional to the course.
local spiny lobster - daikon, ginger, coconut-sweet potato pudding, avocado
When this plate arrived, every person was struck by the presentation. The flowers on the plate were ginger flowers, which when sucked at the end produced a little bit of ginger nectar.
I really like this dish even with all its flaws; it's almost like the sibling that always gets in trouble, but that you still love since they are family. The quality of the lobster and the spot on preparation speak for themselves. The coconut-sweet potato pudding had just the correct balance of coconut, sweetness, and texture. The thinly sliced daikon added more natural sweetness, and I already mentioned the nectar from the ginger flower. This was a symphony of harmonious sweet flavors in a crescendo towards the booming finale.
However in the chord there was the one slightly out of tune instrument that just affected the pitch and ruined the climactic note - the olive oil. Had the olive oil been infused with ginger, the course would not have had the one dissonant note. There was also a little too much unripened avocado on the plate that broke up the sweetness of the dish. Ultimately, I still really enjoyed the dish despite the flaws.
miso soup - smoked foie gras, white soy marshmallow, orange
This course was my least favorite of the night. I was really excited with the presentation of this course as well as the fizzing melting marshmallows when the soup was poured. However, the chief complaint I have was that the thermal temperature of the dashi was not warm enough. The whole experience was like drinking a lukewarm soup. Additionally, the globs of what I assumed were miso were instead the orange, which was entirely too concentrated and present in too much quantity.
uni - poached egg, meat juices, grilled levain
Any course that somehow includes uni and a poached egg is pretty much automatically a winner in my book. Add in a hearty, savory cotes the bouef broth to tie everything together, and there is an outstandingly tasty dish. What impressed me about this dish was the simplicity of it compared to the other courses. This was a demonstration that the right ingredients with minimal fuss can produce an outstanding payoff.
If there was a complaint it was that the grilled levain was not really needed. The bread seemed a little excessively oily as well.
parsnip - six presentations
From left to right (not including the long fried strip):
- braised parsnip in duck jus
- parsnip espuma
- dehydrated parsnip
- parsnip salad with parsnip leaves
- roasted parsnip
- fried parsnip
For whatever reason, I happened to enjoy the parsnip in the same left to right order as I listed above. The braised parsnip really took on the flavor of the duck jus, which provided the necessary "protein" to the course that otherwise lacked one. The espuma was great as well. The hints of coffee left an undercurrent of complexity that the parnsip itself lacks. When the roasted parsnip was dipped in the espuma, there was a magical flavor combination. I'm not usually a fan of dehydrated preparations, but I enjoyed this one. The essence of the parsnip was still captured while the textural contrast provided was essential to the balance of the dish. The salad was very enjoyable as well, and it also was needed in order to bring some freshness and balance to the dish. The roasted parsnip acted almost as the other "protein" on the plate as it was mixed and eaten with the other preparations. The fried parsnip seemed somewhat throwaway as it was shaved too thin to really contribute flavor, but it did add some saltiness to the dish.
onion - truffle, comte, white mushrooms
a truffle shaving in every layer
This was my favorite course of the evening. The sheer audacity of stuffing a truffle into every layer of the onion and then roasting the entire thing is an impressive idea to me. Another impressive component was the truffle aroma that emanated out of the plate when placed down. An essential co-star to the dish, the comte really shined when paired with the truffle and onion. The cheese added some salt to the dish and really added some additional nutty complexity to the undertone of the dish. The only nitpick about this dish is that everyone wanted more of the comte - an extra grating of comte after the grating of truffle would have perfected the dish.
Oregon troll king salmon - cauliflower, green grapes, seaweed
As a fan of well-prepared salmon, I thoroughly enjoyed this dish as well. The salmon was cooked perfectly with a slightly pink center, and this particular salmon really contained an intense concentration of salmon flavor. The orange, red, and regular cauliflower shavings added a nice textural crunch and slight natural sweetness to the dish. The espuma was a great sauce that married the fish with the vegetables. Additionally, the component of the green grapes mixed in seaweed was a pleasant surprise. The tart sweetness of the grape really complimented the seaweed flavors well.
The one small complaint about this dish is that the salmon wheel contained a wrapping of salmon skin. Unfortunately the skin was not cooked to be crispy for anyone, which is what everyone preferred.
squab - persimmon, broccoli, buckwheat
You would think that by the tenth course, the last thing we would want is larger portions. However, each component of this dish was prepared so well that we wanted more. As far as balance, there were two wedges of persimmon included, but a third probably could have realistically been included.
The broccoli was pureed to be rich and creamy - it was almost like a dehydrated cream of broccoli soup. The squab was cooked perfectly medium rare and the flavors were really complemented by the persimmon. The buckwheat added a nice textural crunch as well as the earthy nuttiness otherwise not provided.
venison - smoked beet, red fruits, red cabbage, red wine
This was another very well prepared dish. However, by the eleventh course we were experiencing a little palate fatigue on the savory side, so we probably didn't appreciate this dish to its full potential. The item that stood out the most was the red cabbage. Each person commented that they were normally not a fan of red cabbage, but the preparation on this plate was outstanding and highlighted the depth of flavor present in a well-roasted red cabbage. The venison was well cooked and full of gamey flavor as well. Our table commented that we all love the gamey flavor of meat so much that it is impossible to have meat that is "too gamey."
citron ice cream - pepitas, tangerine, white chocolate
While this was the first dessert course, it also served as a palette cleanser. Shavings of buddha's hand were included in order to add the element of acid. The pumpkin seeds made a great combination with the ice cream, and the white chocolate added a layer of richness to tie everything together and still give the feeling of dessert. Overall this was a great course and was very high on the list of favorites of many people.
honey cake - pineapple, ancho chili, marcona almond, yogurt, caramel
This was my favorite dessert course. The honey cake and semifreddo were just the right balance of sweetness to milky flavor. Each element contributed to a sophisticated flavor on its own - sweet from the caramel, fruit sweet from the pineapple, nuttiness from the almonds, and a hit of freshness from the micro-cilantro. I wasn't able to taste any of the ancho chili, but one of the diners said it was definitely present and was a great surprise to the dish.
My one slightly complaint about this dish was that it was served in a large and deep bowl, which made it difficult to eat. We were also not provided a spoon.
hot cocoa - milk chocolate, mint
What other way to finish off the meal than a rich chocolate dessert? While the presentation of the hot cocoa was impressive (the dome was creative and the aroma of the cocoa assaulted the senses), the flavor of the cocoa was too sweet for everyone. However, the cake was very enjoyable as it contained a chocolate gelee that I found both exciting both texturally and in taste. The chocolate dome was also functional; by breaking it some chocolate chunks could be added to the cake for additional textural contrast.
orange and sesame truffles
A standard mignardise accompanied the ending of the meal.
We were also given a Fuyu persimmon as a final parting gift.
While I commended George's California Modern for its excellent service during the previous visit, there did seem to be a few issues this time around. The service we received was still top notch service for San Diego - however there are a few small things that are expected when paying for an experience such as this. The most obvious issue I had was that not once was a crumber used in between courses. While there may not necessarily be crumbs, the token run across the tablecloth of the crumber makes the guest feel extra special.
Additionally, many restaurants will have the server arrive and fold the napkin (or give a new one) when the guest goes to the restroom. The napkins were not well managed by the wait staff during this visit.
While neither of these two minor nitpicks seem large, with TBL3 being advertised as a premier dining experience, I feel that the level of service should to match the quality of the food.
Compared to my earlier dinner at George's, the TBL3 experience was a night and day difference. While I am still miffed at the kitchen's inability to cope with a dietary restriction in the experience, I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, the company, and the whole journey. Some of the dishes served were truly inspired and they were all plated extremely well.
While the TBL3 experience is definitely not for every day, it is a great adventure for that special occasion provided one can follow the rules set forth by the staff. While I can't commit for sure, I do feel like I do want to return for TBL3 sometime during the summer in order to see the sun set during the meal and get the full experience.
Stopped by today for cocktails only. Good stuff, and good size cocktails. Yesterday we went to Saltbox, and while the cocktails were good, the size was not so good. Plus the valet parking was expensive. Interesting appetizers at Saltbox, liked the ceviche quite a bit, and the olives too.