Restaurant Week question
I am on my anniversary trip in San Diego for three days staying at el Coronado and would like to go to great restaurants during this days. Maybe also take advantage of the San Diego restaurant week. Could you please recommend some of the best restaurants in San Diego. Best Chef's in town? We Love seafood, french food.. Good food :)
ok, I'll bite... I actually went to 2 places for restaurant week, Cowboy Star and Blue Point Coastal Cuisine.
- for Cowboy Star, we used the restaurant week menu for appetizers and ordered a porterhouse to share
- at Blue Point, the offered the full regular menu and it was a great experience
I'll provide some more optional detail for those interested
Cowboy Star - Restaurant Week Winter 2012
Long overdue for a review, Cowboy Star is the go to restaurant I recommend everyone who asks me where to get a good steak in San Diego. During this restaurant week, I was finally able to find some time to check out the restaurant and give a proper review.
Cowboy Star is a combination of a restaurant and a butcher shop. At the butcher shop, one can find the high quality cuts of beef, including grass fed variants of the popular cuts. The butcher shop meat is competitively priced to other specialty meat shops such as Iowa Meat Farms.
Cowboy Star's kitchen is headed by Chef Victor Jimenez. Chef Jimenez graduated from Le Cordon Blue in Paris before being recruited to San Diego by Chef Bernard Guillas to work at the US Grant Grill. Other culinary stops along the way include Dakota Grill and Spirits, Gulf Coast Grill, and Gringo's Cantina. Chef Jimenez opened JRDN before finally opening Cowboy Star.
When we perused the Restaurant Week menu, we noticed that there wasn't a lot of steak options. However, as the complete regular menu was available we decided to share 1 restaurant week as an appetizer and order a full steak as the entree.
The amuse contained a pickled sturgeon on a baguette. The acidity in the pickling liquid of the sturgeon was a good way to open the appetite for more.
charcuterie plate - (left to right) duck pate, sopressata, fennel sausage, chorizo salumi
with pickled vegetables and baguette
The entire charcuterie plate was house-made, which seems to be a trend that is become popular in several San Diego fine dining restaurants. My favorite item of the selection was the sopressata; the black peppercorns really brought a nice contrast to the meat to highlight its flavor. Having eaten many a charcuterie plate, I felt the pickled vegetables were a little weak as the strong aggressive pickling liquid flavor was missing to cut the richness and fat of the charcuterie. Overall, the plate was among the better charcuterie I've had in San Diego.
sea scallops - vanilla parsnip puree, meyer lemon sauce, leeks, petite greens
The scallops in this dish were cooked perfectly, which allowed the natural sweetness of the scallops to be savored and enjoyed. Personally, I was not a fan of the vanilla in the parsnip puree as it seemed slightly overbalanced, but the Meyer lemon sauce was a strong counterpoint that really complemented the flavor of the scallop. The fried shoestring onions added a nice textural contrast to the dish.
40 oz porterhouse for two
Going for broke, we ordered the porterhouse to share. We ordered the meat medium rare, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the meat was cooked to temperature perfectly.
The most impressive part of the medium rare cooking of this particular steak is that usually when the meat is that rare, the ligaments and tendons have not completed the cooking process and often make the meat hard to chew. However, the preparation at cowboy star was absolutely spot on. Having eaten many a steak, I have been consistently impressed by both the quality and consistency of the cooking at Cowboy Star.
In addition to the protein, we received two complimentary sides with the porterhouse.
fromage blanc cheesecake - honey poached pears
The cheesecake was prepared very well and was a nice way to end the meal. The honey that topped the cheesecake really provided a nice flourish to an already well-done cheesecake. I personally was not a big fan of the poached pairs, but enjoyed the tartness the raspberries brought to balance out the dessert.
While Cowboy Star is mostly known as a steak house, it in fact is a great restaurant in its own right. Ordering mainly non-steak items off the Restaurant Week menu, we enjoyed extremely well-prepared food. The steak ordered was an extremely high quality aged cut and cooked to absolute perfection. For those of you looking for steak on the restaurant week menu, Cowboy Star does offer a petite filet.
Link to full review with pictures: http://www.gastrobits.com/2012/01/cow...
(The lighting was horrible in this restaurant so the photos aren't that great)
Blue Point Coastal Cuisine - Restaurant Week Winter 2012
When I last visited Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, I was treated to my first complete meal of molecular gastronomy. While Executive Chef Daniel Barron has a great background with molecular gastronomy, his everyday food is still fundamentally rooted in providing intensely flavored entrees with perhaps a small modern technique twist. Since the last visit, Chef Barron was awarded "Chef of the Fest" for the San Diego Bay Food and Wine festival, adding to his already impressive award cabinet.
Following Chef Barron's twitter account, I found that Blue Point was offering the full menu as part of Restaurant Week. Unfortunately, the same twitter account showed that he would not be in for service when I visited. Undeterred, I set out to see what the regular menu at Blue Point was about.
In addition to the restaurant week menu, there was a selection of about 10 bottles of wine priced for $30 per bottle. We got two of the bottles form that list:
2009 P-L&J-F Bersan Saint Bris, Sauvignon, Burgundy
2009 Martin Codax Albarino, Rias Baixas
While I didn't have enormous expectations for $30 bottles of wine, the Saint-Bris was more old world white with an even flavor throughout while the Albarino was more of a new world fruit bomb.
salmon tartare - creme fraiche, lemon, chive
This cold smoked salmon had a large component of oil to carry forth the flavor of the salmon. Creme fraiche added a textural element to smooth out the mouth feel and add an extra element of richness to the dish. The lemon came in the form of the aftertaste where the core sweetness and flavor of the lemon (zest) came through without the sourness. Overall, the complimentary amuse was not bad, but I would have preferred a touch more acid to round out the dish.
spicy yuzu oyster spoons - shaved serrano, ponzu air
I recognized this dish as the sixth course of The Experience and wanted to see how it had evolved in the intervening time. While this plating lacked the olfactory element to the pile of foam in the previous incarnation, I enjoyed this plating far more.
This was the second best dish of the night. The oyster was succulent and packed full of flavor. The yuzu foam was still delightful and added the citric acidity needed to balance the richness of the oyster, while the shaved serrano gave the spicy kick to assault the senses. The round out the plating, the spoons were placed on a bed of what I want to say was the tsume (from course five of The Experience). This added bit of sweetness and depth of flavor really added more to the oyster courses. Additionally, having the oysters plated on the spoons made the dish much easier to eat that the previous bowl.
pan roasted Mediterranean mussels - coconut, ginger, green curry
The mussels were cooked to an absolute tender perfection. The flavor of the coconut and current were prevalent throughout the dish, but the broth was still the clear, rich seafood broth associated with mussel dishes. This dish also had a nice spicy kick to open the eyes. Overall, the flavors were well integrated and incorporated with each other.
pan seared dayboat Maine scallops - white corn and bacon dumpling, arugula, proscuitto glass
I thought this dish was the best dish of the night. The scallops were cooked perfectly, but the secret to the dish was the large bacon and corn dumpling. The dumpling served as a vessel to deliver sauce to the scallops while adding sweetness and texture from the corn and smokiness from the bacon. The arugula added some bitterness and acid to balance out the rest of the dish.
While it is always a little dangerous to add an additional element of sweetness to a dish containing scallops, the sweetness of the corn really complemented the sweetness of the scallop and didn't overshadow its flavor.
pan seared Hawaiian ono - pineapple fried brown rice, spicy sausage stew, aioli
This dish seemed to be a battle of the surf and the turf. The seared Hawaiian ono represented the elegant restrained austere approach to cuisine while the sausage represented more of the big, bold, rustic aspect of cooking. The pineapple brown fried rice served as the vessel to unite the two juxtaposed elements as the sweetness of the cooked pineapple was highlighted against the spicy bold flavors of the sausage while the sour savory notes of the grilled pineapple were highlighted against the pure flavors of the ono. Overall this was a very fun dish and it was a nice play to the tastes.
creme brulee - seasonal fruit
The creme brulee was one of the better creme brulees I've had. While there was enough sugar to formulate the crust for the brulee, the sugar in the cream was restrained, which allowed the flavor of the cream to shine. The texture of the cream was also the correct consistency.
elephant ear - fried sweet dough, swiss chocolate, salted caramel, whipped cream strawberries
While I really wanted to like this dish, the donut lacked the airiness and seemed to be a really heavy ball of dough. Additionally, all of the elements of the dish seemed to just scream of sugar. Overall the dish seems to be what an eight-year old child would think of as an ideal dessert instead of what an adult would find to be enjoyable.
I've been pretty outspoken against Cohn Group restaurants in the past, but my two experiences at Blue Point have completely altered that perception. At the very least, I have full confidence in recommending Blue Point to any diner that visits San Diego and is looking for a restaurant downtown. Chef Barron is really pushing the envelope in terms of combining and balancing various flavor combinations in his food. He also aggressively highlights those flavors with kicks with spice. Additionally, when Chef Barron has already found a winning flavor combination, he doesn't seem to be passive as he is continuing to adapt and improve on dishes on the menu.
Link to Full Review with photos: http://www.gastrobits.com/2012/01/blu...