Valentine's day has got to be the greatest boon for high end restaurants since the credit card. What other weekday can you charge over $100 a person for a meal and have people be happy about it? Mind you I'm not talking amazing top shelf 2 months ahead reservation kind of restaurants, I'm thinking more along the lines of typical 30-40 dollar dish restaurants. What a blessing for these restaurants! They can make tons of money on a THURSDAY! Absolutely packed on a Thursday with people willingly throwing down cash.
So like all other love struck fatties (or foodies, whatever you want to call yourself) for our Valentine's day restaurant celebration we went to 1500 Ocean in the Hotel Del (San Diego).
Now why is it called 1500 Ocean?
- By the ocean?
- Serves Seafood?
- dreaming of a planet with 1500 large bodies of water?
"Hey guys! Come play poker at the 1336 Brunner!" Not gonna lie.. that's pretty awesome.
Honestly I thought it was a seafood restaurant. I love fancy seafood restaurants. If I had to make a choice I'd pick a fancy seafood restaurant over anything. Btw if you are EVER in New York City and you love seafood do yourself a favor and go to Oceana. (By far the best seafood restaurant in New York. Not the best restaurant.. but when it comes to seafood its pretty up there).
But I was disappointed to find out it wasn't a seafood restaurant. There was definitely seafood flair which seems to be a pre-req for all restaurants in Coronado. But the prix-fix menu had a mix of seafood and non-seafood items. You had your choice of an appetizer, a seafood dish, a poultry/beef dish, and dessert.
The girlfriend and I make sure to get different items from the menu to give YOU the viewing public the most variety possible to see just how splendid (or.. not splendid) a restaurant is.
BTW, there was one HUGE atrocity committed here. The bread is horrible. Its incredibly stale, cold, and just sub par. I don't think I'll ever meet another bread basket like Market's corn muffins *tear*.
First up for me, is the foie gras pate appetizer. Pate with pomegranate sauce, almond infused toast, and wild greens.
I'm not a huge fan of the pomegranate in my food, but it has a nice mellow sweetness to go along with the toast and foie gras. But this is probably one of the best pieces of foie gras I've ever eaten. Most of the time foie gras is so rich and occasionally salty that its almost a necessity for me to drink some sort of piercing wine to go along with it. But the flavor on this was very light, it matched the small amount of sweetness from the jam and the sweet tinges of almond from the toast. It was so smooth and light, just a joy to eat. Oddly enough the very best part of this dish was the toast. I need to find my own infused almond toast somewhere, the background flavoring of almond adds a smile to my face as a gentle sweet surprise!
For Kathy's appetizer she had the chilled crab salad with grapefuit.
Chilled shredded crab with a parsley-olive oil blend. Kathy commented that it was a bit salty, but I think the bitterness of the grapefuit helps balance it out. But they were really fresh chunks of crab inside and it seemed like a good starter to clean up the palate. The flavors were light and summery, perfect for an appetizer.
Up next were the seafood dishes,
Kathy ordered the Diver scallops,
Two very large and generous scallops cooked perfectly. Absolutely no resistance whe you slice into it with your fork. The scallops were covered in plantains with some stewed carrots and mashed potatoes. The only problem with the scallops was the obscene amount of pepper put on the scallops. I understand adequate amounts of pepper for searing but woo... my nose was itching just being near it. If they used half the amount of pepper, it'd be an amazing dish.
My appetizer: Pan fried Grouper
The Grouper, same illustrious class as the famed Sea Bass. The Grouper is a pretty large fish, it can actually get to 20 feet long and 4 feet thick!
The quality of the fish was just how I like it. Like Chilean Sea Bass the Grouper is a slightly flakier/oily fish. If you like your fish with the consistency of Tuna then Grouper is probably not for you.
This dish was also a bit peppery on the skin. They made the skin a bit crunchy and peppery, but the great thing about this dish opposed to Kathy's scallops is that you can actually just peel the skin off and never have to worry about the pepper. =) Otherwise it was a decent fish dish. Its hard to really wow me when it comes to fish preparation, you'd have to cook it perfectly and the flavors have to be just right, not to light and not too heavy.
I actually really liked the pickled vegetables below the grouper. The sourness played really well with the pepper on the fish. Not sure if that was their intention, but I'll give them kudos none the less.
On to the entrees!
Kathy had the New York steak with mashed potatoes (medium well.. yuck!) Kathy's opinion: it was good. (nothing else dear?) um it was good.
my take: I haven't had a piece of steak past medium rare in ages, but the quality of the meat itself was top notch here. Even though it was medium well it wasn't that dry. The meat had a nice give to it and the sauce was good on the side. It's almost like port reduction with beef gravy, can't quite explain it.
For myself, I had the Sonoma Duck breast with a pinot noir reduction and risotto.
Ah duck breast how I love you. I could eat duck breast all day when cooked properly. I had a few qualms with this dish and it has less to do with its overall taste but more to do with its preperation.
First, do you see how thick the skin is on the duck breast? Its almost like I'm chewing fat. Hey, don't get me wrong I love fat but it makes the already oily duck breast even oilier. As well, since duck breast is a pretty tender meat, the skin just makes it difficult to chew.
Also, the slices of duck were just too thick. I'd say its about .75 inches thick per slice, where I find does not lend to savoring the duck breast properly. I'm a huge fan of thinner sliced duck breast, so you savor the richness and fattiness.
Otherwise, the flavor was excellent, the sauce was great, and the meat was cooked to just right about where I like it.
First up is the TOWER OF POWER (named so by the waiter) which is essentially chocolate fudge mousse, with a chocolate cake underneath, and caramel in the middle.
I can whole-heartedly say that this is one of the best desserts I've had in awhile. I was initially hesitant to get the chocolate mousse because when I hear mousse I think whipped cream. But this.. oh my oh my this is almost like fudge. Not nearly as sweet as fudge, but the consistency was similar. (slighly softer). The flavor profile is a light chocolate, with just a tinge of bitterness from the dark chocolate. When you get to the very center there is delicious gooey caramel.
But of course the real star of the dessert menu was their Creme Brulee.
Now I know it looks like you're average creme brulee, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Underneath the creme color interior is a layer of warm dark chocolate. I never even thought of having chocolate with creme brulee before but wow this dish has rocked my world.
PERFECT consistency , neither too liquidy or too structured the creme brulee had the perfect texture on your spoon and in your mouth. The sugar on top was just enough to add to the sweetness but thin and brittle to the touch, perfectly underwhelming.
As you can see, there's a layer of dark chocolate under the creme brulee itself. The creme itself is not that sweet, which I believe they do on purpose to balance out the sugar and the chocolate. But if you get all of it on your spoon in one bite, you will absolutely be blown away.
So hopefully you enjoyed my extraordinarily long post. I'm slightly disappointed that we had to get the prix-fixe menu since I had other items on my mind but I wasn't disappointed by the quality of the food. $100 is pretty expensive tho, stupid Valentine's day... but worry not, the restaurant is not that expensive normally. I would have happily paid $60-70 a person for this meal!