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Bashful3

Dining in San Diego

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Headed to dinner at Vincent's Sirino's in Escondido tonight.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I've enjoyed Vincent's food for years at 4 locations, but I haven't been to his current location in a year or two. I'd be interested to know how you liked it. His duck confit has always been very good.

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Dinner at Vincent’s Sorino’s, Escondido

Fine dining. Website Vincent's on Grand The menu changes.

A fine meal. We don’t get off the leash often, so we ordered a bit more than was comfortable, to try as much as possible of what sounded good.

Quail (special of the day) with couscous and a warm rich sauce flavored with rosemary. Accented with house-made basil oil of a brilliant green. Served with toasted bread and cheese. Delicious. The quail was tender and rich. I’d have preferred the skin at least slightly crispy but enjoyed it thoroughly anyway. The sauce was a highlight of a very good meal. It was tempting to scour the plate. (Oh why did my mama teach me manners? They didn’t take, but I keep remembering I ought to pretend to have some.)

Foie gras terrine – served with sweet preserved fruits (fruit chutney), raisin toasts (sweet crumbly bread, like toasted panetone), balsamic reduction. I ate terrine on the plainer rolls from the bread basket, which lets me focus more on both the melting texture and the salty aspect of the flavor as well as the richness. The fruit is a lovely counterpoint to it – very rich and tangy sweet.

After we demolished the contents of both plates, Chef & owner Vincent Grumel came out to say hello and josh us a bit about our poor appetites.

French Onion soup – lovely. Full flavor, not strongly salty. Mr KA says that Chef Grumel's soup de jour are always delicious.

Salad with Confit of Duck ...– I didn’t write down the name.

Confit of duck (leg) sitting atop fresh spinach with dried pears, sliced mushrooms, slivered onion, and bleu d’avergne. I ordered this because of the duck and the cheese. The duck was a highlight of the meal. The cheese was also featured in a simpler salad. This smelled so good I absorbed the aroma for several minutes before starting. First time to taste this cheese – oh my. I like all bleu cheeses. This one is worth seeking out. The dressing was mild and peppery – a well-designed foil and complement to the other flavors. It never stood out on its own. The duck was excellent –moist with very crispy skin. Even with my limited knife fork skills I was able to get every scrap off the bone. The duck went well with each individual component of the salad, and all the other components were very good together, but the whole didn’t work. It overpowered the duck. Mostly I put this to the spinach. A sharper less ‘absorbing’ green, or even wilting the spinach (with duck fat perhaps) would have helped the salad cohere. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it thoroughly and ate far more of it than I should have, in light of what else was on order.

Dover sole special of the day– with abalone, asparagus and black truffle shavings. A light sauce – tomato and ? This was good.

Tournedos Rossini – more foie gras :wub:. This is a standard on Vincent’s menu. Mr KA once asked about it at lunch although it was not on the lunch menu at the time, and they offered to prepare it for him. I had mine rare. Another thoroughly delicious sauce (Madeira). Asparagus, lovely skinny green beans (?haricots verts?) and carrots. Black truffle shavings. Very aromatic. Another dish to breathe in before eating. Foie was nicely seared on the outside and rare and tender inside, just as the beef was. Together, a delight. I could eat this every time, it’s so superbly prepared.

Desert was a shared bavaroise with semi-sweet chocolate sauce, accented with four sour cherries. The pudding is rich and light and creamy. The sauce has a dark bitter edge that contrasts nicely. I stole three of the four cherries.

The room is attractive. I didn’t notice it much as the food and company were excellent, The fresh flowers on table reminded me I want to grow orange ranunculus next year. Although the restaurant is formally set, they are accepting of the very casually dressed (this is So.Cal after all) and of children of any age.

The tableware in different shades of white is somewhat interesting; square plate for tournedos & foie gras terrine, a long wavy plate for the sole, a long narrow plate for the quail. Food was attractively plated and (except for the previously discussed salad), all the components worked together both for taste and visual appeal. Our waiter was all one could ask; unobtrusive, timely, accommodating of individual style, knowledgeable of the restaurants offerings. His skill definitely added to the overall pleasure of the evening.

A couple tables over there was a celebration, and dessert arrived with a sparkler set in it. Much ‘splashier’ than a birthday candle!


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I've enjoyed Vincent's food for years at 4 locations, but I haven't been to his current location in a year or two.  I'd be interested to know how you liked it.  His duck confit has always been very good.

Where were his previous locations?

editted to add:

Next up - Fat Ivor's in Valley Center.


Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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If memory serves, and I don't guarantee it does, the first place I encountered Vincent's cooking was a restaurant in the back of a strip mall on PCH in Solana Beah. I believe it was called Mon Ami, and I think Bertrand Hug may have also been involved in it. The second was in the Flower Hill Mall in Del Mar, where they served outside under some nice pepper trees. Next was a place in the front of the Carlsbad Inn. (We were all excited when it opened, but the City ran Vincent off with some silly parking regulations.) And then there is the present location in Escondido.

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This thread has been very helpful. Thanks all. I'm going to be in San Diego next week for a few days, staying in the Mission Valley area. Is there anything in that part of town that I should not miss? Or anything new that looks interesting?

Based on this thread and my research so far, I'm thinking of Region and Parallel 33. But one of the folks I'm traveling with wants Mexican too. Any suggestions in that area?

Thanks again.


Check out our Fooddoings and more at A View from Eastmoreland

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This thread has been very helpful.  Thanks all.  I'm going to be in San Diego next week for a few days, staying in the Mission Valley area.   Is there anything in that part of town that I should not miss?  Or anything new that looks interesting?

Based on this thread and my research so far, I'm thinking of Region and Parallel 33. But one of the folks I'm traveling with wants Mexican too.  Any suggestions in that area?

Thanks again.

Chilango's at 1st & University in Hillcrest is a terrific upscale, casual Mexican restaurant that serves really good food in the style of Mexico City.

Ortega's is almost across the street and does Puerto Nuevo style food, meaning it features PN style grilled lobster, rice, beans, salsa, tortillas, etc.

El Agave in Old Town is fairly upscale and features moles and other sauces, plus one of the largest selections of tequilas and mescals. Service at El Agave is supposed to be good, but I've heard that it's been spotty lately.

Candelas downtown in the Gaslamp District is the most upscale Mexican in town and serves Mexican with continental influences from Mexico City.

For the most authentic homestyle Mexican in the city try Super Cocina at 37th and University. This is definitely downscale and not fancy, but the food is good. The food is served from a steam table but do not be put off by this, many wonderful Mexican dishes are based on, and benefit from moist heat and long, slow cooking. This is a transitional neighborhood and probably better as a lunch spot than dinner.


Edited by kalypso (log)

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Can someone post a review (with pictures, hopefully) of the new, remodeled Jimmy Wong's Golden Dragon in Hillcrest? I spoke with my brother yesterday and he said the name's the same, as is the famous neon sign, but the restaurant has been completely overhauled. He said it had a second name, too...something like Asian Adventure (he wasn't too sure of the new name).

He said they knocked down the front of the restaurant and replaced it without an outdoor dining area. In describing the new design he called it modern looking with a lot of glass. They also serve more Asian cuisines other than just chinese food.

He ordered the "hogwings" which were a sort of spicy rib/pork cutlet thing (he didn't give me a very good description of the dish) but said it was quite good, if a bit pricey, at $18.

He also ordered the crispy duck with garlic sauce and was disappointed to see, when the dish arrived, that the sauce had generic peas and uniformly cut carrots (like out of a bag of frozen veggies...not a good sign). However, when he tasted the duck with the garlic sauce, he was bowled over. He said it was one of the best duck dishes he'd ever had.

I am eager to see the changes at Jimmy Wong's. Anyone in the mood for some chinese?


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

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Tim Oliver

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Well, I never got to Region, but I did get to Chilango's. I thought it was a wonderful experience, with a lot of different dishes to choose from, complex and delicious salsa, and beans to die for.


Check out our Fooddoings and more at A View from Eastmoreland

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This is my first post on egullet. Please be kind! I joined the website a few months ago and have been greatly benefiting from all of the helpful advice, cooking tips, ideas for meals, restaurant suggestions, etc… It’s really a fantastic resource and now my time to contribute has come!

I thought I should start by talking about Tapenade, a French bistro that also happens to be my favorite restaurant in San Diego. Tapenade opened in 1998, which coincides with my arrival in San Diego (I am originally from Paris, France). Tapenade’s chef and owner, Jean-Michel Diot, is well know for his work in New York city where he opened Park Bistro and also the famous French bistro “Les Halles”.

I’ve had lunch and dinner at Tapenade many times and it’s always been a pleasurable experience. Now I will describe my most recent meal that took place a few weeks ago.

I usually order “a la carte” but the restaurant was offering a tasting menu that seemed very well designed so my husband and I decided to go with that.

The menu was as follows:

-----

TASTING MENU

$62.00 PER PERSON

$86.00 with pairing wines $92.00 with premium wines

Terrine de Foie Gras, brioche toastée, dry figs mousseline

Duck foie gras terrine, toasted brioche

Homard aux Truffes et celery remoulade

Maine lobster medallions, celeriace remoulade, fresh truffle dressing

Poisson du jour "Provencale"

Fish of the day, fingerling potato, baby zucchini, tomato confit, favas beans, niçoise olives & fine herb emulsion

Noisettes de veau de lait, rates, Champignons, Feves, Jus du Sautoir

Veal tenderloin "Noisettes," fava beans, fingerling potato, wild mushrooms and veal jus

Le dessert de votre choix

Dessert of your choice

Mignardises

-----

My husband ordered the wine pairings (premium wines), but I decided to pass since we are expecting a new addition to our family in a few months. I won’t be providing details about the wines other than the region for each one since we did not take notes and I did not get a chance to try them.

At Tapenade you are always served tapenade (of course!) to start the meal, which is a traditional paste made out of black olives, garlic and anchovies and eaten on bread. The bread served at Tapenade is from Bread and Compagnie (Bread and Cie), which also happens to be my favorite bakery in San Diego, and I have to be careful about not devouring too much bread so I can to enjoy the rest of the meal.

The starter course, which was duck foie gras, was really the highlight of the meal. It was very rich and creamy, a generous slice of terrine served with brioche. In fact, the slice was so large that we also used bread as an accompaniment. With the duck terrine, a quenelle of fig mousseline (whipped mousse texture with small pieces of figs) was served, which was good but not as impressive as the foie gras. We’ve had the foie gras before at Tapenade and have never been disappointed. Compared to the foie gras we had a few months ago at Bouchon in Las Vegas, the texture is less dense, which I actually like better. The taste may be on the saltier side but still very well balanced. After this first course, we were already quite satisfied. The foie gras was served with a Sauternes.

The second course was the lobster course, which was probably the least impressive dish of the meal. The lobster was served cold and had a sweet, subtle taste but was overpowered by the “celery remoulade” that was served on the side. I love celery remoulade which is shredded celeriac root with a mustardy-mayonnaise dressing, but I did not think this was the best match for the lobster (although it is often served with it or with cold crab). Also on the plate was a fresh truffle emulsion that was divine but best on bread rather than with the lobster because it was also more flavorful. A Chablis was served with this dish.

The third course was fish (“poisson du jour”) and we were served a crispy seabass filet with a delicious mix of vegetables. I especially enjoyed the fava beans and the tomato confit. The light sauce sauce/broth was nice too and everything was well balanced. This dish was very well executed and paired with a Sancerre blanc. This dish expressed very well what I enjoy at Tapenade – fresh, simple ingredients, prepared in an elegant and delicious way. Similar to traditional French bistro food but more refined and with more subtle flavors. The upscale version of comfort food for me. I also enjoy more adventurous foods but this is what I always go back too.

The meat dish, the veal, had the same qualities as the seabass dish. Great ingredients expertly prepared – the meat, extremely tender and flavorful, served in the (probably reduced/degreased) cooking juices with wild mushrooms. I could eat this everyday… The wine pairing was a Bordeaux.

For dessert we went with crispy banana rolls for me and a warm chocolate “fondant” for my husband. The rolls were served with handmade ice creams (mango and banana), a rich chocolate sauce and a vanilla whipped cream. I was impressed with the presentation of the desserts – I understand that Tapenade now has a pastry chef who is apparently improving on the dessert menu that Tapenade is offering. This was not the first time we had the chocolate fondant but this time the presentation was more memorable. In the past it used to be served with mango ice cream but the coconut ice cream was a good match too. The chocolate fondant was served with a tawny port.

Since we didn’t order coffee we were not served mignardises but these usually consist of homemade “pate de fruit” (fruit paste) in assorted flavors.

Overall this was a great meal. Service was impeccable and the staff very attentive. JM Diot stepped out of the kitchen for a few minutes during our meal but I was too chicken to chat with him, so we sent him our compliments via our waiter who was also French.

Tapenade offers a daily lunch prix fixe menu for less than $20 so that’s a great way to sample their dishes without breaking the bank. A few other signature dishes we’ve enjoyed in the past are the mushroom raviolis (they are served with a delicious Port wine and truffle oil-based sauce), duck confit, Burgundy snails, lamb loin, coq au vin.

Thanks to Kouign Aman for starting this thread about San Diego restaurants (I wonder where to find a Kouign Aman in San Diego by the way, I haven’t had one in a while). And to those who still wonder, yes we do have a lot of fine restaurants in San Diego. I will try to review my favorites in the near future. To name a few: 910, Region, El Bizcocho, Laurel, Arterra, The Marine Room, A.R. Valentien, Fresh, Chive, and La Bonne Bouffe, Barbarella or Parallel 33 on the more casual side. Other restaurants I plan on going to based on great reviews are newer restaurants Asia Vous in Escondido (chef/owner Riko Batolome) and Vivace at the Four Seasons Aviara (chef Bruce Logue from Babbo in New York City); also Pamplemousse Grill which I’ve never had a chance to go to. On the casual side I would love to try the Linkery in North Park that opened last year and obviously specializes in homemade sausages (choucroute anyone?).

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Welcome, FrogPrincesse!

After that great first post, I am looking forward to more. Thank you.

As for a kouign aman, I havent found one in town yet, so am dreaming of baking them at home over the summer. I tried once, years ago. Got close enough to know I can do it, but that the recipe I used needs work. I plan to start with two recipes and work til I get there. You will be invited to taste the later attempts, and pass judgement, if you are interested (and if I actually get my act together and do this thing). :sheepish:


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Welcome FrogPrincesse. I like Tapenade very much, and your description of your meal there was excellent. It made me want to return soon. Your mention of Vivace also has me thinking about about going back. Thanks.

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kalypso, what do you think of Extraordinary Desserts?


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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kalypso, what do you think of Extraordinary Desserts?

I am not kalypso but just some comments on ED. I think ED is quite controversial. A lot of people love it, the other don't like it because it is too sweet, too expensive, too crowded etc. I belong to the first group and think that ED is a great place if you like excellent, rich cakes and desserts. I prefer ED in Hillcrest, even so you have to wait often but it is much more relaxing than the one in Little Italy. The only two comparable places in SD are Michele Coulon Dessertier in LJ which is ok but nothing compared to ED and Heaven Sent Desserts which just open recently haven't visited so far.

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Not a restaurant, but a great find is Venissimo Cheese on West Washington.  They will track your purchases for you, special order for you and you can order on line.

http://www.venissimo.com/store/

If you like Venissimo you should also visit Aniata in Del Mar:

http://www.aniata.com/

Honkman,

Thanks for the tip. I'll be at Arterra on Sunday, so I will check it out!

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I'm on the fence with E.D. The deserts are rich and tasty but can be equalized with some coffee. Seating is cramped but can be romantic with the right table. Long lines at times but can get lucky. The slices of cake are also very expensive. My wife and I can't walk out of there without spending $25-$30. Pretty steep but a treat. See? On the fence. Haven't been there in a while though.


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Has anyone been to Aqua Blu ?


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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kalypso, what do you think of Extraordinary Desserts?

Buon Giorno........

I just returned from 2 weeks in Italy last night -- and am awaiting the delivery of my wayward luggage :sad:

Extraordinary Desserts is actually quite good, but I can do without the attitude. I much prefer Just Desserts in Kensington, on Adams Ave, just East of the I-15.

The ambiance is terrific, kind of a pastel, retro, Alice in Wonderland, through the looking glass sort of feel. The desserts are spectacularly good being neither too sweet, nor too overly wraught. There is also a well designed, small menu of non-dessert foods including a better than average Kobe burger. Chef Beryl has been featured on Food Network several times and will be participating in one of their baking challenges soon. Her other claim to fame is that she does Fabrage Egg style confections out of chocolate.

ForgPrincesse, welcome, I loved your description of your meal at Tapenade, it is indeed a wonderful restaurant, as are many of the others you've listed. If you haven't been to Asia Vous, by all means go, it's delicious and creative. I did a post here on eGullet about it back in December 2005. It's truly a family affair, Riko's wife decorated and runs the front of the house, while he concentrates on the cooking. BTW, Congratulations on the pending addition :smile:

Honkman's right about Aniata Cheese Shop in Del Mar. Fantastic selection - and they'll let you sample any, and everything - with a well educated staff that can answer seemingly any question related to cheese. They also have an interesting selection of American artesianal cheeses, many from outside of California that are well worth investigating.

Has anyone tried Modus yet, the new place in the old Belgian Lion space. I'm having dinner at Vagabond in South Park next week, anyone have feedback on that for me?


Edited by kalypso (log)

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kalypso,

Thanks for the recommendation.

I need to thank you twice because I already followed your advice a few months ago, and had a great evening as a result. When you posted about restaurant week, I had completely forgotten about it. I made a reservation at Arterra after reading your excellent review. My husband and I were not disappointed and had an excellent meal for only $30. We will definitely go there again.

As for Extraordinary Desserts – I used to live just a few blocks away from its Fifth Avenue location, so I had quite a few occasions to try the various offerings there. I would say that, compared to most pastry shops in San Diego, it’s quite good, although a little bit on the “heavy” side. Karen Krasne was trained in France (Cordon Bleu/Lenotre) but I think that her style is more American than French in general. The portions are very large and the cakes that are on the regular menu are a little overwhelming, but the specials can be great. They often run out of the specials early in the evening so it’s better to come early. The tea pastries (scones, cookies, etc) are ok but can sometimes be dry and/or boring despite the beautiful presentations (flowers, gold leaf, etc). I’ve been disappointed a few times (a super salty chocolate cookie that I was served once comes to mind) and the service is always pretty poor (read – extremely slow, and definitely an “attitude”). It’s also expensive (I believe that specials run about $10). The tea selection is great and includes Mariage Freres.

Champagne in Del Mar has good French pastries although they’ve slightly reduced their selection. I recommend it.

I have not tried Just Desserts (is it the same place as “Just Fabulous”?) in Kensington so I am adding it to my list of places to try.

Someone mentioned Venissimo on Washington Street – it’s a great cheese shop. It’s tiny but the selection is great, they’re super friendly and will let you try anything.

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I have not tried Just Desserts (is it the same place as “Just Fabulous”?) in Kensington so I am adding it to my list of places to try.

Drat! Chalk it up to jet lag and crossing 9 time zones in one day. Yes, it's Just Fabulous, not Just Desserts. And it really is worth a visit if you haven't tried it yet. I think a lot of the chocolate desserts are outstanding.

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