Ah the French, with their beautiful language, wonderful food, and deliciously intricate wine. Since i love food, especially wonderful food i love me a French restaurant. So for my brother's 21st birthday i took him to the The Winesellar and Brasserie in Mira Mesa, San Diego. Truly a place for YOU to be pampered.
This restaurant is truly a hidden gem. Located in the business district of Mira Mesa in a myriad of Biotech firms a very inconspicious wine store is hidden in the back end of one of the districts. When you get to the store a simple sign says "WineSellar". You walk in and its a nicely lit wine store, not so bright to make you feel like a fish market yet just bright enough where you feel a calm while you shop. The wines are lined by region as they litter the whole store. A simple sign with "Restaurant" is pointing to a set of velvet stairs. As you walk up the stairs you see award after aware from Wine Spectator as well as their abnormally high food rating of 27 out of 30 from Zagat. Inside is a nice little restaurant, dimly lit for that romantic partner (or 5 other guys in my case) that you intended to wine and dine, with plush booths scattered around.
The host/waiter/sommelier at Winesellar & Brasserie greets you upon entry. Slightly witty , some may say a little overtop (some as in Matt and Joey) he takes you to your table as a flurry of busboys (vastly outnumber the amount of other help there) quickly set up your table.
First the waiter sits you down with the menu, two heavy leather bound books, a very very long and intricate wine menu and the dinner menu. A handful of appetizers and salads mixed with seafood and meat dishes.
Before you can even finish reading the menu the busboy #1 places a small plate of Chef's treats. Light and flaky biscuits with a delicate cream cheese spread with a dallop of pesto sauce and a small roma tomato. A quick and crisp crunch and the cream melts in your mouth. A wonderful bite size starter to the coming meal.
The waiter lightly hovers, at the smallest hint of readiness he springs into action. We order our wines: a 2003 Neo, a spanish wine from Ribera Del Deuro, earth with a nice body, could be a little stronger as either fruitier or earthier, but it does well to mix with the forthcoming spiced meats and a 2004 Tandem Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir, quite possibly one of the best Pinot's i've had in awhile. Slightly fruity with nice cherry and cola flavors, wonderful finish with a great dark ruby red color. Just wonderful! Perfect with the lighter meats we had. Pinot Noir truly is the most versatile wine out there! Then on to the dishes.
First appetizer of the night was ordered by my sibling, a Grilled Lamb Salad (15). Spinach and endives sprinkled with feta cheese and dressed with a warm mustard dressing. The salad is then generously topped with peppered slices of medium rare lamb.
A stunning dish. The feta cheese and endive help blunt the naturally gamey flavor of lamb which would normally overpower a standard salar.
The next appetizer was ordered by yours truly, a Yellowfin Tuna Tartare (14) the speciality of the house. Served with very crisp bread the Tartare is mixed with chives, tomatoes, and onions and served raw. Its topped with a Creme Fraiche, a slightly richer version of sour cream.. less on the sour more on the rich. Surrounding the TarTare is an herbal mix. A delictible dish for any fish lover. Very very soft fish, the yellowtail really works well with the sauces. Eaten with warm bread as well as crisp bread, think of it as an enhanced can of tuna (if one was to degrade such a dish like this) . Tuna's with crackers...on crack.
First entree of the night is the Filet Mignon with Roasted Shallot Fondue , Potato Gratin and Bordelaise Sauce. ($36). Medium rare, no resistance from the knife, yielding like a gentle lover (haha). The owner of the mouth that ate this dish was surprised at the tenderness of the meat, practically melted in his mouth. The flavors of the sauce helped accent the already juicy meat. An amazing piece of meat, he stated probably the best he's ever had.
The next dish was Duck prepared two ways, Leg and Grilled breast served with roasted turnip, sweet potato Puree, and a basalmic vinegar orange reduction. (32)
The breast was the one marginal disappointment of the night. The taste was not bad, but it was not good. If one was to word it perfectly, it tastes like a pan fried chinese dish of stir fried duck. But its friend the leg fared significantly better. A soft yielding duck breast, spiced with a light reduction of orange. One stroke of the knife, back then forth allows your fork to pick up the meat that your mouth so eagerly waits for.
The next dish was the Black Pepper Roasted rack of Venison with a Red Port reduction sauce (35). Served at a wonderful rare to medium rare, the venison is crusted with peppers and other dark spices. Thick pieces of venison run along the bone, as with all meat shown above it yields to your gentle butter knife. The port reduction adds a tinge of sweetness to the gamey venison, perfectly complimenting the spice of the pepper. Scrumpiolicious. Wonderfully pared with the Neo.
Final Entree is the Colorado Lamb (36). A light pack of spinach hides beneath the generous rack of lamb with rich Porcinni mushrooms littering the dish, intermingling and making friends with the potato puree.
The lamb is cooked to a perfect medium rare. A thin line of fat which has dispersed its juices lines each piece of lamb. Perfectly spiced, the tinges of pepper mix with the natural flavors of the lamb. Not gamey like your standard run of the mill lamb but a version of rich yet meatier veal. So delicious one would go to an expensive restaurant and POTENTIALLY (not saying anyone did) gnaw at the bone secretly to remove all of the succulent meat. This dish, is my premium selection, if you do find yourself up the store's velvet stairs, make sure this is the dish that greets you.
Next is the dessert, a trio of the specialities of the W&B. (9). Creme Brulee with vanilla bean, Banana Cannoli filled with a rich cream, and a dark chocolate confection.
The Creme Brulee's sugar was burned to a thick layer. Underneath the hard exterior lie a creamy mix of vanilla that glided onto the spoon. I love Creme Brulee so i'm very bias, but it was amazing.
The Chocolate confection is two pieces of dark chocolate sandwiching a small mint and powdered like 1st day of snow with milk chocolate. Wonderfully rich for dark chocolate lovers..
Finally the biggest surprise, the wonderful Banana Connoli. Crisp Connoli pastry that folds underneath the pressure of your teeth. So well constructed nothing but the area you bite falls into your mouth. A rich Banana Caramel cream covers the pastry, light caramel with hints of banana. The cream is a cloud like morsel of delight. A combination that would put a smile of satisfaction on the coldest of hearts.
And finally the last dish, a complimentary dish for the birthday boy, fresh organic strawberries with a milk chocolate syrup with 3 generous scoops of fresh vanilla ice cream. (9).
Think of the best sundae you've ever had. Now multiple it by the amount of digits that appear in Pi. That is the flavor of this dish. Not as sweet as your standard ice cream. Not so heavy that you walk out of this glorious restaurant unsettled and cold. The two extremes of syrup and ice cream are a perfect yin and yang of hot and cold. The strawberries are the best strawberries hand picked and then filtered even more thoroughly for only the most perfect shapes.
As you finish your dinner another conffection from the Chef arrives, Chocolates and soft Madelines.
As you walk down the steps of the Winesellar & Brasserie you look once again at all the awards and you understand why they display them so proudly. As you leave the store the Cashier looks up and asks how your meal went, what else can you say but Amazing, absolutely amazing. You climb back into your car with a settled feeling, a nice buzz from the great wine, and a sense of contentment from the rich food and you zoom away back into the business district of Mira Mesa , away from this diamond in the rough, waiting for another person who stumbles upon this restaurant and is blown away.
Bon Appetit. Espèrent que votre repas était grand et nous espérons vous revoir.
Winesellar & Brasserie