My first time at D Bar was with two lovely ladies from my old job – KF and LT, when LT who had left SD several years back, was coming back to visit. I had to catch up with two wonderful and extremely driven ladies. We had a great afternoon catching up and just seeing what everyone was up to since we were all tied up in life itself. That day, we had sampled several dishes to just get an idea of what D Bar could do – just desserts or food as well?
On the left hand side, from top to bottom:
Crue Fries – their signature starter of garlic parmesan fries (perfectly fried), mac sauce, melted cheddar jack, bacon, ranch, and chives. This appetizer is salty but so addictive!
Naan-Burguesa – kobe burger, grilled naan, black bean hummus, chipotle mayo, havarti, avocado, and a side of chips. Since I don’t eat beef, KF and LT both were a little underwhelm by this burger. In part, the use of a grilled naan didn’t hold everything together so when you bit down, everything tends to slide out.
Tahini Grilled Salmon – on a bed of mixed greens, grilled baby bok choy, tossed in a ginger soy vinaigrette, and topped with toasted almond and edamame. This salad was again only ok and slightly underwhelming.
Now the real reason why we were here: desserts!
Molten Cake Thingy That Everyone Has – just the name itself made us want to order it. Plus the three of us have had really good molten cake thingies before, so we had to try it and see where D Bar’s stacked up. Their version is comes with raspberry compote and Sicilian pistachio ice cream, but we wanted to try their salted caramel ice cream and so we requested the swap. Well we can say that their cake thingy was quite good. Was it the best? We were all hard press to jump up and exclaim this was the best version we’ve had to-date, but it is a darn good contender!
Ch Ch Ch Churros! – Made. To. Order. Those are the three words that almost always ensures that you are going to have a great churro. And boy, D Bar knows their churros alright! It was the best freaking plate of churros ever!!! And it comes with a little dish of melted dark chocolate for dipping which was more for scooping out and eating straight.
On my second visit with two other wonder ladies – LA and JW, I knew there were two items I couldn’t go without: crue fries and churros. Except this time, it was for dinner so ordered more items to try in hopes that it would turn out better, but first…some drinks!
Normally, I don’t drink so I wouldn’t be posting about drinks, but my gals do and one drink intrigued us all – the Fresca Picante (martini glass one). This was a strawberry jalapeno infused tequila with agave and lime. I had taken a sip and the jalapeno is this after kick that happens a few seconds after drinking. It was such an interesting taste and experience that it had all three of us just inspecting it as we waited for food.
Oh these wonderful babies again…come to mama! NOM NOM NOM!!!
Bacon Mac & Cheese – because we were all feeling like mac n’ cheese. Don’t question us! We wanted this ooey, gooey bowl of melted goodness. It’s a four cheese mac, with bacon and cheese nips and panko crumb top. It was as decadent as it sounded, but good for sharing!
Lobster Risotto – grilled lobster tail with rosemary butter, served with roasted poblano risotto and broccolini and pea tendrils. The lobster was sweet and tender and I could have eaten several more of that tail! So good…
And since we were ordering so many rich dishes, I felt we needed at least one salad to help balance it out a little. The Grilled Caesar salad, drizzled with balsamic glaze and topped with shaved parm, it help give us that fresh crunch we needed.
Oh the desserts…delicious, delicious desserts…I pretty much dictated this order:
Chocolate Souffle – 65% chocolate souffle, nutella filled beignets with chocolate sauce, and praline ice cream. The souffle was not as airy as I’ve had in some places, but still delicious and fluffy. The beignets were too thick and not fluffy enough. Beignets are suppose to be little pockets of fried heaven (as I have experienced before in NOLA), so I was a little sadden to eat these little guys here. As for the chocolate, we learned from our waiter that they “pay more for the chocolate per pound than we do for the steak”. Now that’s something to be proud of! If I do say so myself!
And those churros, I ordered it knowing what I would get, but my friends were both skeptical. I told them that I swear by them and upon their first bites, I just ruined their ideas of churros forever. LA was just peeved at me for making her taste a damn good churro and now other churros will never be the same. Job. Well. Done.
D Bar as a whole, I love – from the food, atmosphere, venue and the people working there. It’s a great place to gather, enjoy a few dishes and drinks. Although I did not have pictures of my take out desserts from D Bar, I did try their macarons and chocolates. The macarons were much too dry! I was quite disappointed, but at least their chocolates were superb! I really hope the restaurant will continue to do well, so that I may keep coming back and try everything on the menu (but always with the churros).
3930 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
My SD Restaurant Week restaurant number 2 was with a coworker of mine, JT (and no, it’s not that JT). Since she was working during the MLK holiday (in lieu of another holiday), we choose a place closer to the office. Our selection was because of the number of choices the restaurant had for the pre-fixe menu, and here were our choices for La Bastide Bistro in Scripps Ranch:
I have to say, this was our favorite course of the meal. According to JT, the crab cake was loaded with lumps of crab meat. She loved it and it did look pretty darn good from where I was sitting! My salad was absolutely delicious! The best part is the highlighted item – warm goat cheese, drizzled in the lavender honey. My goodness, I could have eaten TEN of these croutons! Paired with a fresh salad, it made me feel like I was eating something healthy and good. Althought I would have to say that those mushrooms were a bit out of placed. Had they been marinated mushrooms, that would have made the dish twice as good.
Our entrees was not our first choices, because they ran out of the Cassoulet (White Bean Stew with Duck Confit, Bacon & Sausage). 😦 JT enjoyed her stew, and it smelled nice, but it was not what I would want either. My Duck Confit was sadly under seasoned and a little dry. Also, my fries should have been crispier too. There’s nothing worse than a limp fry!
JT and I both ordered the Tartin, but again…much to our disappointment, the apple filling was too sweet for us. It felt like canned apple pie filling to me, but I cannot confirm that this was the case. The best part of this dessert was the ice cream.
Overall, La Bastide Bistro completely failed my expectations and they were not even set high to begin with! That was probably the worst part for me. Would I come back? For the prices they are charging both in their lunch and dinner menu, I think I’d rather opt for a different option.
La Bastide Bistro
10006 Scripps Ranch Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92131
Now that I have time again in my life, I find that I am slacking off on things! I have to exert extra effort to do things and that kind of enthusiasm quickly declines after one day. Allie of Hyperbole and a Half did a wonderful illustration that pretty much depicts this…in comic form actually!
Over the weekend, I attempted to organize my memory card’s ridiculous crap-load of pictures and realized, “Sh*t! How did I let it get this bad?? I haven’t even uploaded minuscule percentage of it for my friends!” Because some of the pictures actually have people in them! And it’s not just food! They know that it takes me forever to upload pictures for them, but because they love me (I hope), they allow for me to continue on with my ways. However, this weekend was to make up for it! For almost a year’s worth of photos, I planned on organizing, backing up, and uploading them for all to see!
…………….yea that didn’t happen. *sigh*
AND to add salt to the wound – I am falling behind on my weekly posts! *double sigh*
Well I did promise myself and you, that I would tell the rest of my New Orleans Adventure! Here goes!
NOLA – Part Deux!
So as you can see…my first official NOLA beignets were NOT from the famous Cafe Du Monde. I was tired, and still reeling from the whole event of the previous night (see Part 1), so I was in NO mood to stand in line for a beignet. Hence, this little cafe on Bourbon Street was our savior – Cafe Beignet.
Now, I had enough sense in me to know NOT to eat only sweets (and nothing else) as a meal. That is why you see an order of jambalaya and a shrimp po-boy. They were mostly to coat CP’s and my stomachs before the main attraction…
The FRESH beignets! Oh man…even though our actual food was sitting there, I dug into one of these puppies immediately. And honestly, it was good…yet at the end of the day – they are powdered doughnuts. Don’t get me wrong! I have nothing against it! Or hate it!!! I loved every bite of it, that I came back with CP the following day for another round. However, for me…it wasn’t something that made me go: this is genius! It’s simple, done well, tastes good…there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
That evening was done in high style and tradition. CP had made dinner plans for our last evening in NOLA. He wanted to keep it as a surprise from me (which is a hard thing to do!) and I must say, he did extraordinarily!
Just all around amazing restaurant. Sitting in the main dining room on the first floor, you can feel the history. That place has seen it’s fair share of faces, lived through disasters, survived through wars, and still manages to show up every night with its bells and whistles on. I loved Commander’s Palace and I would come back again. Although it isn’t cheap, it’s worth every penny for the experience and great food.
So going from the blazer type restaurant, to the down to the basics simple but still delicious, the following day…
This was our last official meal of New Orleans and we wanted something simple, but still good. The Gumbo Shop delivered us just that:
Simple, delicious, and warmed our stomachs to a state of blissful contentment. What more do you need?
So that wraps it up for CP’s and my first trip to the Big Easy. There were extreme highs and extreme lows in this trip, and not for the reasons most people associate this town with. Our time there was short lived, but the memories of the sounds, smells, and sights are forever with us. New Orleans…you are one H*LL of a city! As they say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!
630 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116″
Seemingly appropriate given the holidays are in full swing right now! It has been the first time in the last three years, that I have truly felt the holidays. The past three years had been so ridiculously hectic due to my old job, that I rarely got into that holiday spirit. I have to be honest, I think my spirit was plainly exhausted and maybe even a little jaded. The work before was not only mentally draining, but physically and most of all – emotionally draining, that when it was time to take some “time off”, all I wanted was to sleep.
This year however, it is totally a different story! I can FEEL the holidays growing in my bones and I am LOVING IT!! 🙂
Anyways, the reason why I missed last Sunday’s post was because I was celebrating with friends and family all weekend long. “For what?” You may ask. Well, it was for my birthday! Another year older, maybe another year wiser? Who knows, but I looked back and thought to myself, “Man…what a f***ing year!”
To celebrate with my family, we had a very nice dinner at The Red Door in Mission Hills.
The restaurant is small and cozy. The decor very much a wine country setup and the main dining room has a full wine rack wall. Dim lighting really sets the mood for an intimate evening. I can imagine that during the mornings and afternoons, it is bright and cheery and perfect for a nice, cozy get together.
Now that is enough about the restaurant, let’s get to the real matter of things: the food!
I do believe appetizers are suppose to wet your appetite for the main course, but the first course was my absolute favorite part of the meal. The cornbread muffins are made to order, so the waiter will warn you it takes about 15 minutes for the prep. Trust me – it’s worth it. The cornbread is light, fluffy even, with a touch of creaminess from the white cheddar. The muffins also come with a honey-rosemary butter which just helps the muffin to melt more in your mouth.
Then comes the Shrimp Creole in a white wine and cream sauce, spiced with the flavors of the “Big Easy”. Though the portion size is small, the flavors are HUGE!!! A thick tomato sauce filled with smokey, spicy, tang goodness. I used the fried polenta to mop up more of the sauce, then when there was no more polenta, the cornbread went so well with it. Man…this place knows how to start off a good meal.
The entrees on the other hand…was not memorable. The scallops were nothing extraordinary. The Schnitzel was not quite what I knew Schnitzel to be (more like fried pork chops to me). CP’s burger though looked juicy enough. My sister’s vegetable plate was as advertised and she liked it. And the roulade was dry…=\.
I feel like the appetizers set my expectations higher than it should have been because the delivery was there in the beginning! Yet, Red Door’s entrees barely raised above an “inside voice” level. The appetizers would be like an opera singer – belting out beautiful notes. Perhaps the encore would help save a poorly performing middle?
Well…how should I start off? The brownie was probably the winner of the two. It was a DENSE chocolate brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drenched in fudge. Definitely quite delicious. I had a bite and loved it. The cobbler on the other hand…it was nothing specially about it. I’ve had much better cobblers and given that my ice cream was FROZEN solid turned me completely off. One of two, 50/50, those aren’t bad odds at all. I’ll take that any day!
Red Door is definitely worth a revisit, with different orders. I would stick with my appetizer choices, but I would try something else on the menu for my entree. Would I recommend this restaurant? Yes – I would just stay away from the chicken and scallops…you can get much better elsewhere.
The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar
741 West Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
Last month was San Diego’s 2011 semi-annual Restaurant Week. For those who aren’t familiar with Restaurant Week, here is the quick break down: for a week, restaurants all over San Diego county have 3-course (sometimes optional 4th course) prix fixe menu showcasing at times the restaurant’s best-sellers and/or customer favorites for dinner. However, this year’s fall round of RW included lunch prix fixe menus of 2-course options at certain restaurants! Some restaurants will also extend to a second week, but they don’t usually announce that on the website til the day before. For those wanting to dine at the 5-star restaurants, but don’t have the pocket change to spar, this is a great way to get the full experience of the restaurant at a discount!
This time, I made it a mission to hit up at least one restaurant…and ended up going to TWO restaurants with CP. Granted, it does get expensive if you’re going to more than one restaurant, but reading ahead of the menu choices and you could be walking away with a steal.
Our first restaurant of the week was a restaurant CP and I had already visited before, but I love – Whisknladle. The best part of their menu during RW was: their ENTIRE menu was part of the event. You could select any appetizers for your 1st course, any entree for your 2nd, and any dessert as your closer, all for $40. Now if this is not a deal…then I don’t know what is!
Caesar Salad – whole romaine lettuce dressed in “made-to-order” dressing (according to their menu), topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and croutons. Nothing special, just a refreshing salad for CP and always a favorite for him.
Potato Gnocchi in a brown butter-ale creme, finished with a gratinee of Brie de Meaux and chives. Luscious! Wait…is that even an adjective to describe food?? Not sure, but that’s how this felt. The little potato pillows were just firm enough. with a little chew. to give you a bite, but somehow still remain light feeling. Then the rich, brown butter-ale creme that coated each and every single pillow was ridiculously rich and guilt ridden, but you couldn’t care. No, you couldn’t get over how smooth, a touch of sweetness, and creamy it felt in your mouth. Then that brie! Oh that brie…sweet, tangy, more oozing of creaminess. Man…this appetizer made me ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ as I devoured it. Needless to say that I enjoyed my appetizer very much!
Taglietelle with house made spicy pork sausage sugo, pepperonata, and a light sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Beautiful, wide, ribbons of pasta cooked just perfectly to uphold the even more amazing sausage sugo. That sauce held itself could have held its own against a battle of sauces. The weak, basic “bolognese” of tomato sauce and crumbled pork would cower in fear of Whisknladle’s sugo! I cannot keep myself from shouting, “SUGOI!!!” (sorry…I know…very cheesy >.<)
Seared Maine Scallops in a chilled green curry, roasted squash, tinkerbell peppers, spinach & capelin roe. What can I say? Can I ever escape ordering scallops when given the choice on the menu? Very, very rarely (if ever) would I pass up scallops. Whisknladle did not disappoint in preparing my favorite shellfish. Perfect sear to give the nice, crispy, caramelized crust, without overcooking (too many times that has happened to me). Sweet, salty, cripsy, soft, buttery, bitter (from the peppers), and light.
Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme topped with a layer of salted caramel and served with roasted banana cake. Ok this pots de creme was magical, but cloyingly sweet after your second or third spoonful. I suppose that’s why they had the banana cake, but I almost wanted something something salty on the side. However, I would have taken some ice cream to go with it, or whipped cream to just help break that sweetness. Still delicious, although it was the first time I had to leave a dessert unfinished (*GASP!*).
Oh look! There’s the vanilla ice cream that I needed! Except this was CP’s dessert and even though I had a little bit (to go with my dessert), I didn’t want to take more.
Our server was great – helpful, friendly, and attentive where needed. Again, Whisknladle remains on my top list!
1044 Wall St.
La Jolla, CA 92037
2. Crab Catcher
Now this is one restaurant I have never been to and had been in my “maybe” list of the Restaurant Week choices for several years. This time however, CP did not partake in the RW prix fixe menu since he did not find pairings that suited his taste.
Crab Bisque – roasted red bell pepper broth, Meyer lemon crème fraiche. This was not mind blowing, but I did enjoy the bisque. I could have used some more crab, but the bisque was thick and rich, and citrus from that lemon crème fraiche did help enhance the flavors. Although, I will say this bisque went great with the complementary foccaia they provide as part of the bread service.
CP’s Caesar Salad….told you – it’s a standby fave of his :). Different presentation (pre-cut for the lazy), same concept – romaine lettuce, croutons, parma, and dressing. “All hail Caesar!”
Dungeness Crab Pappardelle with sweet heirloom peppers and lobster mushrooms, in a creamy Thai basil garlic sauce. Man, oh man, where do I begin? Let me count the ways this was a fail for me: 1. Not nearly enough crab, 2. Pasta was cooked a little more than I like, and 3. This was the weakest sauce on pasta I have had in a REALLY long time. When I see “Thai basil garlic sauce”, I expected to get basil (I barely), garlic (not sure if there was any), and flavor – this was definitely NOT there. This pasta made me so sad. So very, very sad. The crab mound on top was the best part of this plate and I ate it all up. Everything else…I wanted to return.
Sea Bass with Maryland lump crab stuffing, fingerling potato, Haricots Verts, with a lemon thyme mustard sauce. For once, I was seriously jealous of CP’s entree – I WANTED IT FOR MYSELF!!!!!!! The sea bass was tender, falls to the slightest pressure of the fork, and the perfect sear. The crab added that extra natural sweetness, and I wanted it! *Sigh*…but next time, I’ll just order this one for myself!
Warm Chocolate Torte with candied macadamia nuts and topped with Tahitian vanilla gelato. This dessert should come with a warning: “You are about to enter chocolate nirvana!” I think this torte has to be, hands down, one of the richest, chocolatey-est, dessert I’ve had in town. They got it right by giving you a giant mound of vanilla gelato because you DO need it. Also, in the center of the torte is a mountain of oozing, warm, lava pool of salted chocolate. The only thing that could have made this better?…ANOTHER scoop of ice cream!
I would come back for the sea bass and the torte. Those are a must! Everything else…I can live without it again.
1298 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
Dungeness Crab Pappardelle locally grown sweet Heirloom peppers, lobster mushrooms,creamy Thai basil garlic sauce