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Bencotto - Urban Solace - Romescos - Bo Beau La Mesa

DiningDiva Jan 25, 2014 10:55 PM

More dining with family...

I needed a place for a latish sort of dinner on Wednesday night after picking up sister and BIL at the airport. They're flight was delayed, we ended up at Bennecotto around 8 pm. Have to say, it was a pretty solid meal. All 3 of us had the Bencotto salad which is a melange of trendy greens served in a deep bowl (making it somewhat difficult to eat) with cooked green beans, diced beets and a big dollop of (ick) goat cheese. The salad was good and at $6 a good deal, but it was too big and after awhile the flavors all sort of became a little one-note.

My BIL had the braised lamb shanks and it was delicious, the best entree of the night. My sister had a penne pasta with sausage that was quite tasty. My lasagne was a miss. The pasta sheets were wonderful, but overall, it lacked texture and was, surprisingly, rather flavorless. The cannolis for dessert were not very good, but the tiramisu was. Serve was attentive and our waitress far too perky.

3 salads + 3 entrees + 2 desserts and a bottle of wine = $153 including tax but before tip

Thursday night found us at Urban Solace and it did not disappoint.
We skipped starters and salads and just went for entrees. My BIL had the beef cheeks, which were beefy and tender. I had the hangar steak which was cooked perfectly to medium rare and my sister went for the salmon, which was an enormous filet. We finished with 2 pot de cremes, rich and satisfying, and a pear bread pudding. The bread pudding was excellent but the portion was really huge.

3 entrees + 3 desserts + a bottle of wine + 2 coffees and a tea = $154 including tax but before tip

Friday night we trekked down to Bonita to Romesco's. I think this was our most interesting meal. I wasn't particularly happy with our table located directly in front of the waiter station, but it turned out to be okay. This is an extensive menu with a tapas menu in addition to the regular dinner menu. It took us a while to figure out how we wanted to approach it.

We started with 3 items off the tapas menu. Piquillo peppers stuffed with lobster and crab...light, refreshing and tasty. This tapa normally comes 2 per order but we asked for 3 and the request was easily accommodated. Croquetas Romesco are mashed potatoes mixed with cheese and bits of serrano ham, formed into small balls and then deep fried. Masterful fry job as these little gems were utterly grease free. Crackly crust with a soft center. Our last tapa was a cazuela of beef short rib meat shredded and ready to be a taco filling. This tapa comes with small corn tortillas and little dishes of salsa verde, chopped onion and minced cilantro so you can roll your own tacos. We did and we enjoyed them very much.

Our entrees were fairly predictable. I had wild halibut mojo de ajo, garlic crusted halibut. My sister had the halibut with salsa verde and my BIL had the rib eye. My piece of halibut was quite good, but there was a bit too much garlic which become overpowering at time. My sister's halibut needed a little bit more sauce than it came with. It was a LARGE piece and the extra sauce would have made it a little better. Both pieces were cooked about right, meaning not over done and dry. The steak was, well, a steak and done to the degree requested. The plate accompaniments were nothing extraordinary.

For dessert we had a flourless chocolate cake and the churro plate with dulce de leche and hot chocolate. The churros were probably the best dessert of the 4 days of eating out. Oh, and we had 2 Mexican coffees made table side. Large sugar rimmed wine glasses with liqueur in them were set aflame. When the sugar rim had caramelized the waiter poured in hot coffee and then topped it off with whipped cream. Potent but really, really good.

3 tapas + 3 entrees (which came with a small caesar salad included) + 2 desserts + (an expensive) bottle of wine + 2 Mexican Coffees + 1 green tea = $253 including tax but before tip (the wine was a $90 bottle)

My BIL is enthralled with Bo Beau in La Mesa so we had dinner there tonight. As usually we started with the Brussels sprouts app and as usual it was delicious. The Brussels sprouts were roasted to a golden crispness then topped with a lot of shaved parmesan cheese and meaty chunks of pancetta. We added on the cauliflower appetizer as well which turned out to be lightly breaded and deep fried cauliflower florets served with pine nuts, piquillo peppers and a (basil) pesto. This was quite good too, but somewhat oily as the pesto was not well blended.

The pork shank continues to be a solid choice. We tried the hamburger this time around and it is not for the faint of heart. First of all, the thing is just enormous and includes bacon, gouda cheese, bacon jam and a great garlic aioli. It was ordered medium rare and that's how it was served. I don't think this is a better burger than the one a Alchemy, but it pretty darn good. If you order it, just make sure you're really hungry.

For dessert we went with the pumpkin bread pudding and flourless chocolate cake with citrus coulis. The bread pudding is stellar. It's got nice gingerbread-like notes to it and is light enough so that you don't feel overly full. The flourless chocolate cake was quite good, I could have done without the citrus coulis, it didn't add much to the dish.

2 apps + 3 entrees + 2 desserts + 2 Manhattans + 2 Red Trolleys + 1 glass of wine = $153 including tax but before tip.

I've eaten way, way too much over the last 4 days, most of it good to very good, none of it bad. I am, however, at this point craving something much lighter and less filling.

  1. Gypsy Jan Jan 26, 2014 01:15 PM

    Thanks for the detailed report, it is fascinating reading.

    Now, go get some shaved/snow ice or a raspado, inmediatamente!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gypsy Jan
      DiningDiva Jan 26, 2014 01:57 PM

      Sounds good to me :-)

    2. foodiechick Jan 26, 2014 05:16 PM

      Great post DD! My husband loves the lasagna at Bencotto (as does former Hotel Del Chef Brian Sinnot), but I have found it to be too much cheesy goodness for me (I know, is there such a thing as too much?).

      Those tasty little piquillo peppers at Romesco's were my submission for the chile relleno dish of the month (I know, technically not a chile relleno). I thought they were delicious and we also enjoyed the croquetas alongside. Nice contrast of textures, temperatures and flavors. I also love the churros dessert there. I have to remember to try the Mexican coffee next time, sounds delish.

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