One fair spring night before the onslaught of finals I joined in for a night of wine and fine food at Molly's Restaurant in downtown San Diego. If you've never been to this restaurant, it's actually located in the Mariott Hotel next to the San Diego convention center. The restaurant is geared toward being a very wine friendly venue with a small wine store located in their restaurant. The store has a small selection but has pretty decently priced wine. As well their wine list has some nice gems for a very decent price.
The restaurant is located right next to the pool and is lined with floor to ceiling windows so you can see outside to their very well decorated pool area.
Luckily for us we had a large party so we were put in their private dining room which sat us right next to the pool. The room is their Terrace room, an extension to the restaurant that was recently built. Soft lights, nice chairs, and good sound insulation, we were able to stay for hours on end and not be disturbed. When you have 18 bottles of wine to go through, it takes awhile =). Since I like to keep this as primarily a food blog (and I don't have tasting notes for the wine) I don't have any notes on the wine. But what I do remember was the 1966 Pichon Longueville Baron that Kevin brought. Remarkably vibrant for a wine older than me by almost 2x, an absolutely joy to start off with to match the amuse.
They also have great wine service here. They set out multiple different varietal stems for us and were always happy to bring more when requested. This probably means nothing if you're not bringing your own wine.. but for those that do... it's a nice service that they offer.
I only took pictures of my food and the person sitting directly to the left of me so unfortunately I don't have a large variety of dishes.
A quick Amuse Buche, Smoke Duck Breast with a dab of mustard and cured beans.
Smokey and fatty a perfectly fine amuse to tantalize my taste buds. Beans were chilled and flavored almost like pesto, high in parsley and olive oil.
Next up was the Forbidden Torchon. Foie Gras Torchon with wild arugula, poached pear and smoke sea salt.
Sorry this picture came out odd, I was taking a picture of someone else's dish =). I'm becoming a huge fan of smoke sea salt on foie. I think it balances out the normal rich saltiness from foie with a more sharp and precise flavor. You then add in a nibble of the bitter arugula and your tastebuds are in for a real treat.
Japanese Kobe Filet Carpaccio.
The beef is raw and topped with a horseradish aioli, truffled cheese. The one good thing about the dish was the sauce. The Aioli has light kick of horseradish and is perfectly creamy with hints of sea salt. Of course the problem is.. if you have Kobe beef.. what are you doing seasoning it with such a strong sauce?
The beef itself was the problem. It didn't come apart easily, was incredibly lean, and didn't have the fatty flavor I expect from Kobe. One of my dining companions requested the Kobe certification and it was an A5! (Kobe is graded A1-A5, A5 = best) I was shocked cause if not told it was Kobe I would have guessed USDA Choice.
Avoid this dish at all costs.
My main course was the Porcini crusted Branzino.
Branzino is a European Sea Bass, it's more along the lines of Chilean sea bass which is flaky and oily opposed to normal sea bass which is meaty and thick. Porcini is a type of Shroom, large wide caps that weigh at it's largest 2.2lbs.
A parsnip reduction and pea sauce are on the plate, as long as large cooked Porcini and fingerling potatoes. The reduction was sweet with celery, carrots, and onion notes. Goes well with the fish which easily soaks up the flavors of the sauce.
The problem was that without the sauce the fish couldn't stand by itself. It was utterly flavorless and unfortunately luke warm. The temperature was more a problem with the kitchen having to deal with serving 13 people at the same time if anything. But there was no taste on the fish and it really wasn't prepared all that well because the texture was almost mushy.
The texture could be from the length of time the fish was sitting there waiting to be served, so who knows... but the flavor or lack there of was unforgivable!
The best part of the dinner was the dessert. They make Banana Fosters table side.
Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, butter, rum
Heated and flamed in a pan by the waiter the seasoning melts and gets caramelized with the alcohol. Then bananas are chopped into the pan and cooked for a little while.
Finally the freshly cooked bananas are topped over the vanilla ice cream.
Distinctively flavorful vanilla bean with strong bursts of cinnamon and sugar make you gobble it up and hold your bowl out like Oliver Twist for seconds. Its greatness lies in the simplicity of the dessert, just a few fresh ingredients put together for a refreshing dessert.
I also ordered some green tea and I just wanted to show you what it came with.
Heavy cream, brown sugar, sugar sticks, and milk (the chocolate is for the espresso next to me)
And it comes in a very delightful green tea bag.
An enjoyable dinner.. although the food wasn't terribly exciting the service was good, the ambiance of the room was great... and having great wine and good friends always makes a dinner significantly better.
333 W. Harbor drive
San Diego, CA