Thursday, July 9, 2009

Prado Restaurant (San Diego)

Please forgive my complete lack of posting, I haven't stopped eating, but whenever my fingers find the keyboard it ends up being all California Bar study material ;). UNFORTUNATELY this is the end of an era, I will not be doing regular San Diego Restaurant posts anymore cause I've moved back to smoggy Los Angeles. FRET NOT DEAR READERS, if you find me whimsical and aren't looking here for food suggestions in solely San Diego , please continue reading on... I will not stop talking about food in Los Angeles and Orange County!

Lived in San Diego for 8 years, loved the food, loved the people but now it's time for a new culinary experience! So here is one of my final meals in San Diego.. subsequently final post of San Diego.

My final "regular" post of a San Diego Restaurant is Prado in Balboa Park. Located in beautiful Balboa Park the restaurant is surrounded by art, nature, and hoards of wandering tourists. Sitting smack dab in the center, where better for the Cohn Restaurant Group to put their "crown jewel" then in the middle of one of the most scenic places in San Diego. Unfortunately, all the pretty scenery in the world doesn't make up for pretty average food.

This is my second visit to the restaurant, I've come here previously for dinner and was unimpressed but it was the only decent place serving Sunday Lunch opposed to brunch for a large party.

We promptly sat down in their open courtyard dining area. It looks out to a set of wedding grounds (subsequently someone was prepping for a wedding that day) with nicely trimmed grass and tall bushes.

After taking our orders the server dropped us off their "bread basket"

A novel concept of hummus and crisp flat bread. The flat bread is heavily seasoned with spices and pepper so if you're spice adverse you might not be a fan... but it's free... so what's there to complain about? ;)

We started off with their most popular appetizer

Calamari Fries

tossed in a sweet & spicy korean soy bean chili sauce, napa cabbage slaw

I've had this before and my opinion has not changed. I wonder if it's the most popular dish cause the restaurant keeps insisting to people it's the most popular dish? Rubbery Calamari with overly sweet sauce. What more do you need to say? Oh... the breading is neither crunchy nor soft.. so wtf is the point of it.

seared kobe beef sushi roll
with charred asparagus, wasabi cream, braised hijiki & a roasted garlic ponzu dipping sauce, tobiko aioli

This appetizer I enjoyed greatly. Even though I don't eat meat, the roll was well made and the cream sauce was light yet packed with a complexity of herbal flavors that went really well with the asparagus inside the roll.

After a fairly average appetizer course, our entrees came out.

prado's pressed salad
organic baby arugula, shaved asiago cheese, strawberries, candied walnuts & figs dressed in sherry shallot vinaigrette

I'm a big fan of arugula, Asiago cheese, strawberries, and sherry vinaigrette, that being said it's pretty freaking hard to mess up a salad ... which lucky for them they didn't do. Decent salad, wish the vinaigrette wasn't so powerful but otherwise not much to complain about.

Braised Short Rib Stuffed Pasta
home made pasta stuffed with braised short rib and topped with goat cheese and cabernet reduction
I didn't get a bite of this, but not a single person at the table liked it. The pasta wasn't cooked well, the ribs were too stringy, and as you can tell in the picture, the sauce is just a heavy layer of oil. I applaud you Prado for messing up something as flavorful as braised short ribs. *CLAP CLAP*

marinated skirt steak panini
fried tomatoes, organic field greens & horseradish-cheddar on house-made roasted garlic shallot roll

Those who ate it liked it. No strong opinions either way. What they did like a lot were the crisp home made taro chips. Earthy chips with that bitter sweet taro flavor.

Now for disappoint central, my dish

maine lobster pot pie
new potatoes, english peas, white corn & carrots, baked with a lobster cream sauce, spinach salad tossed in a dijon-truffle vinaigrette

What do you think of when you think of pot pie? A creamy thick luscious soup that's piping hot... especially when the menu says "CREAM soup". There was nothing thick, flavorful, creamy about this dish. It was watered down soup filled with vegetables and some lobster claw meat. About as un-deserving of the price as you can get.

What you don't see here is my brother's dish. He ordered the

prado grilled kobe burger
snake river farms kobe beef on a hearth oven baked ciabatta roll, chipotle aioli, and a choice of tillamook cheddar, gorgonzola or jack cheese

It was ordered as Medium Rare.. both times came Well Done. So at that point I didn't wait to take a picture of the food since... everyone was pretty much done eating. He said the burger was okay. Too bad you paid $17 for Okay.

Second time I've come here and the second time I've been disappointed. I guess if you can keep attracting tourists and charging stupid prices for average food go for it. But if you my dear reader are looking for GOOD FOOD at the prices they are asking for, you're better off elsewhere.

Prado @ Balboa Park
1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA


P.S. Now with that horrible review out of the way I'd like to say San Diego has been a great culinary journey. I've had great opportunities to have wonderful friends who were willing to try every hole in the wall or fine dining I could think of in the last 8 years.

My do not miss restaurants when you visit san diego

El Pascador
Mien Trung
Super Cocina
Izakaya Sakura

and I'm sure many many more.

Hopefully you my dear readers will follow me as I continue into finding fun foods in Los Angeles and Orange County. In the coming months my dearest dining companion and I are going to embark on a month-long whirlwind trip to South East Asia, I'll be going on one of the most decadent food/wine trips of my life in Napa in mid August (be on the lookout for some STUNNING wineries and GREAT food), and other shenanigans...

So be on the lookout and thanks for taking part in this chapter of my life!


KirkK said...

Hey Clayfu - Good luck! Hope to read about some great dining in the future!

cabcooks said...

Hi Clayfu! Good luck in LA and your prosperous road ahead. Thanks for all your great reviews of SD eats. I'll miss them but also looking forward to reading about new and exciting places you'll find in LA and OC.

kirbie said...

I'm sad to read you are leaving SD. But there is so much food in LA and Orange County, so I'm excited to see those posts!
Wait, are you studying for the bar and still having time to post and eat? That's impressive!

sharon said...

Awww, I'm sad that you've left San Diego but excited to read about your upcoming eating adventures with Kathy. Let me know if you're ever in San Diego and we'll go hit up Mien Trung! :)

Frank said...

Dude. You left out Wings 'n' Things as one of your can't miss San Diego Restaurants. What's wrong with you.

Charlie Fu said...

kirk: Thanks! Btw, thanks for taking me to Mien Trung for the first time!!! Every friend I've taken there has you to thank for it ;)

Cabcooks: Thanks CC! I'm hoping my time talking about LA restaurants will be as enjoyable as SD. I think all the niches have been filled admirably by people in LA.

Kirbie: Multi tasking ;)

Sharon: Don't be sad, you aren't the only one who has been crying about me leaving and you not eating well (see below)

Frank: You're right, i should have put radioactive chicken parts as #1 *shakes head*

cathy said...

Thanks for your posts clayfu, good luck in LA and keep the reviews coming!

Anonymous said...

i love the frames on the photos...

caninecologne said...

hi clayfu - i'll miss your sd posts but look forward to your future posts, especially the southeast asia ones! good luck with everything! i truly enjoy your posts and your funny comments. :)

i also recently blogged about prado (your pix were better than mine) and i liked their pressed salad as well. but the vibe is so touristy...

Zhi said...

I look forward to you posting about meat dishes you can't eat :) I will never stop!

Stop going on the wine boards when you have bar exam soon!

Justin said...

Good luck on the bar.

Found your blog on wine.woot, I thought it was humorous.

One comment on the Kobe burger. Real Kobe should always be prepared medium to well done, to allow all of the fat to render and flavor the rest of the meat. It should not be dry, but a consistent color. Otherwise the overly fatty Kobe (the fat is what we pay extra for) is just unrendered, chewy and less flavorful.

Then again, it may not have been real Kobe, and when that's the case I order medium rare too!


Tracey said...

I'm sad this is your last SD post. But I hope you get to enjoy all the LA/OC has to offer... like the Vietnamese food in Westminster! It's my fave; try Song Long restaurant. Good luck on the bar...

Charlie Fu said...

Cathy: Thank you! I'll try =)
Anonymous: so do i!
CC: I agree, caters too much to the tourist. Why I went is beyond me.
Zhi: i hate you
Tracey: I will put it in the food rolodex!
Justin: I will have to respectively disagree with you. I do not believe the fat is thick enough to require such long cooking times. Great A-5 Wagyu Steak has excellent marbling with great thin veins of fat that melt quickly when the meat's internal temperature rises.

That being said, "kobe" burgers are usually american kobe from basically the "waste" of the cow. Low marbling. I rarely order it cause I think it's a rip.

Roger. said...

Ah yes the Kobe beef sushi roll. Greatly enjoyed each time I go.

Better dining options are available in SD, of course but it's just so convenient when you're in the park...

Don't ever get the meatloaf, btw. You'd consume enough salt to last you through the week.