Wednesday, April 29, 2009

D.Z. Akins (San Diego, CA)

Before I went on my pescetarian diet I had myself a few beef filled adventures. I've been hearing about a Jewish Deli "around" (15 minutes away wtf!) my place that served a killer pastrami sandwich. I asked around and was told about D.Z. Akins, THE "local" delicatessen. Serving 134 different sandwiches, D.Z. Akins has been a staple of the San Diego community since 1980.

Located in East San Diego, DZ Akins has your standard Large Jewish Deli Fare, cheese blitzes, potato pancakes, "Jewish penicillin", pastrami sandwiches, tongue.. you name it. A take out counter for carved meats and preserved seafood (shudder)

Baked goods just like your momma used to make them, that's if your momma loves using a lb of butter per cookie.

And of course a gift shop, selling all the necessary D.Z. Akins souvenirs, trinkets, and other.. completely random accessories that really fit more at a truck stop than at a full service restaurant. The menu is like a tome of food. Each page results in more and more sandwiches, entrees, desserts, fountain drinks and appetizers... I'd probably be sitting there flipping through the menu for a good 20 minutes if this was my first time there with no idea what they are "famous" for.

Since I did know what I was going to order, I decided to nom on some house cured pickles while I waited for the waitress.

A crisp pickle with a hint of brine, the pickle has yet to "erode" into the mucus color exterior that we all know and love. I actually prefer this type of pickle, that hasn't had the opportunity to "ferment" and still has the light crunchy texture that I love so much from raw cucumbers but have a slight kick of sour from the brine.

Of course, if you dig deeper into the giant pot of pickles, you'll find some that are really hitting their pickly stride .. if that kind of stuff floats you boat.

Now on to the sandwiches! All Sandwiches are served with fries and radioactive coleslaw.

Look at this thing, I thought someone had spilled slime into my coleslaw when it first appeared. Isn't this the same stuff that mutated 4 normal turtles into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? Is Coleslaw supposed to be scary neon green?

If you think the slaw is scary looking, check out the sauce

I am now 100% sure that someone dropped OOZE into my coleslaw. So far I haven't grown ninja powers so I think it's pretty safe. Obviously, I finished the coleslaw.. so it was pretty good =P. Finely shredded cabbage with a sweet tangy sauce, I enjoyed it, it's no KFC coleslaw but it was good enough for me.

If you want to add the coleslaw into your sandwich, it costs $1.50 extra. Or you can be like me.. save yourself $1.50.. by stuffing it in yourself.

First up , French Dip Sandwich.

Typical well done thick sliced roast beef. *shrug*. Jeff didn't think it was anything amazing, decent sandwich.

I'm going to combine the next two sandwiches, since the ingredients are pretty similar.

Next up, Corned beef and beef tongue sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

And a tongue, corned beef, pastrami sandwich.. with no lettuce and tomato.

What I expect from tongue, is a very rich concentrated meaty flavor mixed with a metallic after taste. What I got here, was a piece of salted beef. It had the rough and thick texture of tongue, but none of that dense flavor that I love cooking over an open grill.

The pastrami had a light smoky flavor with a hint of the salty cure. I wish it were thicker cut, the thin cuts I don't think give you the opportunity to taste the meat and the cure, no matter how high they stack the thin slices up. You need those fat slices of meat interlocked with fat and skin to really get that deep cure.

Corned beef was alright, a bit salty. Didn't stand out.

The rye bread was dry and un-unique (is that a word?). So thinly sliced that the beef mushed into the sandwich. Yet the crust was so hard that I ended up leaving the 3/4th of the crust cause it made the sandwich so difficult to eat.

The best part of this meal? The deception by the restaurant. Usually when you're at a Jewish deli you get those fat stacked sandwiches that are filled to the BRIM with meat. You can't even finish the meat cause it's stacked so high up you can't grasp your hands around it. In this case, buyer beware. The meat is double folded in the front so it looks like they give you a huge bulging portion.. but if you look in the back half of the sandwich there is almost NO meat. I ended up laying the meat out evenly and it was a pretty standard deli sandwich.

All in all a pretty average experience.

I'm getting more and more confused with San Diego. So many "institutions" of San Diego have disappointed me. Why are these places even popular? Is it because people can't bring themselves to criticize places like this? The places their parents/grand parents took them to as kids? Or is it that so many in San Diego are devoid of taste and just follow people like sheep?

I can understand people liking the restaurant. It's not bad, the prices aren't horrible.. if you want some pastrami I don't know of too many places in San Diego. But to believe this is one of the best Jewish delis out there is a fallacy and an insult to places like Langers who are true institutions .. not just average restaurants trying to create a "Jewish dining" feel to bring in the target clientele. I felt it was such a gimmick, walking in and seeing a gift store there.

So if you want to try it yourself and tell me I might have been there on an off day here's the address

D.Z. Akins
6930 Alvarado Rd.
San Diego, California 92120


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Trying to be Web 2.0 savvy

So I'm trying to be a little Web 2.0 savvy so I've incorporated a couple of things to my blog.
  1. On the top right, you can see that I put in a category of "What/Where I am eating". It's updated via twitter and integrated into blogspot. Not everything I eat is "blog posting" worthy, so I figure that'd be kind of fun, to let you take a sneak peak into what I'm eating at any given point of the day. (LOOK i'm just like clayfu! I also eat those grapes!)

  2. I finally signed up for sending picture through my phone to the blog, so if I'm eating anything interesting or unique, I can send a quick pic here and you can all see it! =)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mission (San Diego, CA)

Once in a blue moon I'll have the craving for a full on breakfast meal . Once in a blue moon my most cherished dining companion will also have such a craving. Once in FIFTEEN blue moons both of us will want to eat go out and eat breakfast. Of course being the incredibly slow waking person I am on the days I don't have class, breakfast tends to be eaten around lunch time.

After browsing the web, we came upon a coupon from for a breakfast special at The Mission . The Coupon is valid M-F 7am - 3pm and is good for TWO blackberry pancakes, TWO pieces of bacon, and TWO eggs for a recession proof $6. Since I've never heard of Mission I wanted to do a little reading before I dropped some hard earned cash. Who knew if this was another Denny's-like restaurant... fortunately for us.. it wasn't.

The restaurant specializes in creating simple but focused breakfast and lunch entrees filled with fresh fruit, herbs, and veggies. They have their own unique take on Mexican breakfast cuisine for a few dishes. The portions here are large, but not so ridiculous you couldn't fathom the possibility of not consuming it all. The dishes are well prepared, not oily and sloppy like many popular breakfast eateries in San Diego. Not only is flavor a key part in their dish preperation but so is plating. If it looks good, most of the time it tastes good =P.

I was torn between the Plata Verde Con Huevos, sweet corn tamales with eggs and tomatillo sauce, and the Mission French toast. I finally settled on the Mission French Toast, I was looking for a sweet and filling dish and the savory element was complimented by a side of eggs and potatoes.

Mission French Toast

Fresh baked Cinnamon Bread on a palette of berry puree, accented with fresh fruit

The cinnamon bread is used as a base for the french toast creating a very deep earthy richness in the toast. The bread itself is buttery and soft, the thickness of the toast just adds into the "sponge" like texture that I mostly find in Chinese toast. The powdered sugar adds a sweeter taste to the french toast, but isn't completely necessary. It's like eating a really good cinnamon bun that isn't too sweet, doesn't stick to your mouth, and doesn't require a gallon of milk to wash down.

I was kind of indifferent to the berry puree, thought it was a bit too tart for my taste.. especially with the depth of rich and sweet layers of flavor.

I ordered a side of two over easy eggs and their Crispy Rosemary potatoes ($3 more)

Perfectly cooked eggs, I love having the warm thick yolk spill out over the potatoes. I could put an over easy egg on rice, noodles, potatoes, fries, pancakes.. it doesn't matter.. I love it either way. Add in a bit of Tabasco sauce and you're golden.

(good transition)

Golden like the crispy pan fried rosemary potatoes. The potatoes are first cooked in a large pan on a giant metal cooking surface then tossed into a small pan with oil , rosemary, and salt to infuse it with the necessary flavor and create the crust around certain areas of the potato. If you read my blog enough (thank you if you do), I am not a big potato fan. I really like my fries extra crispy.. and devoid of potato. But I really liked this. The potato was not overwhelmly starchy and had just a hint of rosemary and salt that gave it the necessary flavor to not overwhelm the sweetness of the french toast. I particurarly enjoyed the crisp edges.

My breakfast partner had the Coupon special of Two Blackberry pancakes, two eggs, and two pieces of bacon

Two generous flaps of buttermilk pancakes liberally stuffed with slightly cooked blackberries with a hefty coating of powdered sugar. The pancakes were light and fluffy with a soft texture that kept composed in your mouth without becoming mushy when you bite into them. The blackberries were so fresh and sweet that I didn't even need syrup or butter to add exterior flavors to the pancakes.

This was a particularly good deal at $6. Fill you right up with fresh fruit and large well prepared portions. Everything you could want for a breakfast. Or you could have an overly greasy breakfast like this for the same price.

Do yourself a favor, use the coupon (or don't) and drag yourself to some breakfast at Mission. If you're lazy like us, you can even eat it at 12pm! They have 3 locations around San Diego so no excuses if you live south of La Jolla aight?

3795 Mission Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92109
Daily 7:00am-3:00pm

2801 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

1250 J Street
San Diego, CA 92101


Monday, April 13, 2009

Alchemy Restaurant (San Diego, CA)

Alert Alert!~!: Found great new restaurant that has entrees for under $17 that doesn't taste like over-sauced garbage like most restaurants in North Park (cause.. it's in South park!). They serve deliciously inventive cocktails, have spot on service, and most importantly gives you a good meal without ruining your wallet.

Our friend Joey came from out of town and we were looking to get a few drinks and get our chow on . I first looked at Tractor Room, but my lifestyle change to a pescetarian diet wouldn't let me eat ANYTHING there. Starlight was closed for Easter Sunday. After browsing the web for a bit, I fell upon Alchemy in Southpark. Opened 7 weeks ago, the restaurant has an urban ambiance, it'd fit right in place in West Hollywood with the clean art decor and soft warm colors of the walls/floors/counters.

The restaurant's focus is on creating well portioned dishes with quality ingredients at recession proof prices. A generous wine by the glass section as well as a by the bottle wine list (corkage is $15) accompany a specialty cocktail list. The restaurant walls are adorned with modern photography/art as well as a giant tree sculpture in the middle of the restaurant. The name Alchemy is rather fitting, taking ingredients from all over the food/drink pyramid and combining them into an attractive and appealing concoction.

If I overheard the owner Ron Troyano correctly they worked the restaurant around this sculpture to make it the center of the restaurant.

After being seated, a couple of my friends and I ordered a few cocktails while waiting for the rest of our party to arrive.
I'm so tired of drinking rum&coke, 7&7 .. where you have some random bartender make you a drink that's either far too strong or far too sweet. I just want a drink that's well made, that I can enjoy. I believe Alchemy hits the spot. Btw I am not a booze hound, I just tasted a few sips of every drink to get an impression =P

I ordered a Keeps Pleasure

Skyy Vodka, Tangerine, bing cherry, and fresh mint.

Vodka is a great spirit to use as a blank canvas. It does its job of matching whatever flavor surrounds it. In this case you get really bright sweet cherry with hints of mint. The cherry has a wonderful fleshy flavor to it that is accented by the tangerine flavor. I was first curious why they didn't mash all the mint into the drink, but it was perfect the way it was. The mint didn't overpower the layers of flavor the cherry and tangerine imparted. I hate to use a comparison to a Mojito, since the only thing similar is a mint... but the drink was refreshing and a great start to the meal.

Allen ordered the Red Derby

Michters rye whisky, grapefruit, honey

For me, this was without a doubt the star of the night for the drinks. Normally when you have a drink you don't sit there pondering the finish or what's on the mid palate like you do wines. But in this case, the finish was sweet honey and a bit of bitter rind that just sat on your tastebuds for 20-30 seconds. It was incredible! The rum itself was a bit strong at first (who's complaining about a little bit more alcohol?) but I really enjoy the inclusion of grapefruit juice in any drink, that bitter sweet citrus adds a certain tang to alcohol. The drink got better as you got to the bottom of the glass as the honey and juice settled and mixed perfectly with the rum.

Frank ordered the Rosemary Negroni

Tanqueray 10 gin, Rosemary, Campari, Cinzano sweet vermouth, blood orange

A slice of blood orange is dripped over the cocktail which adds acidity to the bitters from the Campari. I like the inclusion of the vermouth that adds a primary herbal note to the drink that then becomes accented by the Rosemary. The drink is floral and fresh with just a touch of sweetness.

Also enjoyed a bottle of 2005 Sojourn Cabernet Sauvignon Home Ranch

Slim notes of blueberry and vanilla appear on the nose with slightly pronounced heat. Dark rich fruit mixed with very prominent blueberry and black berry and still has the toasted oak mouthfeel. Still a big tannic wine, might need some time to settle in and let the tannin integrate with the fruit.

The rest of the party arrived so we chomped down on a few appetizers.

Started off with Ceviche of fresh sea bass $8

pickled mango / toasted coriander seed/ plantain chip

I really enjoyed this ceviche. The fish was fleshy and light, not overly saturated with citrus. The sweetness of the mango mixed with the spice of the coriander made for a playful salsa flavor that permeated through each of the bites. You can then scoop some of the ceviche with the crisp plantain chip to add that little bit of pottasium we all need =P.

We also ordered Parmesian fries $4

shoestring potato fries / parmesan cheese garlic aioli

Good fries, not as crispy as I'd expect with shoestring fries. The aioli was teetering on the fine line between flavored aioli and mayo. Someone at the table said these were like high end McDonald fries, it was meant as a compliment. Personally, when I think shoe string I think thin fries that are super crispy and almost well done cause they are so thin. These have a good amount of potato/starch still in them, so unless you fry them in oil for 10 minutes (yuck) they won't get that crispiness that I love.

I enjoyed the flavor of the fries, just the right amount of parmesian and herb on the fries. Some places (Oceanaire) are heavily seasoned and it detracts from the fries itself.

Next up the San Diego Sliders $8

three grilled mahi tacos / shredded cabbage / salsa verde americana / corn tortillas

I have read complaints about this dish on Yelp, this once again shows the craptastic taste of many many users on Yelp, but this dish was SPOT ON. This is an appetizer, it's meant to be small. Three tacos just the right size, three bites per taco. I like the use of Mahi Mahi in tacos, they are light and delicate and do not have a strong fish flavor so they compliment well with whatever condiments are served with it.

Shredded red/purple cabbage that has more of a bite than your normal raw green cabbage with a flavorful salsa verde and a dallop of sour cream.

Everything about this appetizer screamed light and filling. All the ingredients were perfectly sized to give you the most flavor in the small manageable bites.

cocktail break: Alchemy Margarita

Cuervo 1800 tequila, orange, lime, agave, black salt

I liked the smokiness from the use of the black sea salt along the rim of the margarita. I really really like the inclusion of fresh citrus juices in the drink. I hate concentrated juice.. it adds an odd sour flavor to the drink but the lime and orange worked well to balance out the bitter spice that comes from the tequila. One of the better Margaritas I've had.. but I'm no expert on Margaritas =P.

After watching "she who shall not be named" break a wine glass and the very attentive wait staff clean it up like MOP in Wall-E We got our entrees.

I had the Pacific Halibut Sous Vide $15

Carmelized brussel sprouts and toasted walnuts are layered within a herb oil and walnut reduction mix with a piece of sous vide halibut on top. Sous vide fish is done in a vaccuum sealed bag at a low heat for a long period of time. It creates a very controlled environment for the meat to cook in. The fish was prepared in the bag with a slice of lemon to add acidity to the fish.

The halibut was cooked perfectly, flaked right off but the best part of the dish was the walnut "sauce" that was at the bottom of the dish. It mixed perfectly with the Halibut and Sprouts. At first the fish itself didn't have much flavor, but when eaten as a complete dish it was astounding, it was nutty and sweet with some nice bitter sprout to balance it out.

Allen ordered the Crispy Skin Jidori half chicken $16

This was easily the best dish of the night. The chicken was perfectly cooked, crisp skin and tender moist meat, served with bokchoy, shitake mushroom dumplings. There are few chicken sources that restaurants provide that give the same consistent quality and excellence of Jidori. It's always flavorful and tender and the restaurants that make good food end up putting forward astonishing pieces of bird. The rest of the dish has a heavy Asian influence. A "Ma La" pepper spice mixed with a sweet reduction with flat Shitake mushroom dumplings. The Shitake mushrooms were diced into the dumplings and you have a very rich earthy mushroom flavor.

Joey had the Burger $10

Big fat juicy burger , Joey said "very good". Sorry for the lack of info, I didn't try the burger.

Frank had the Cocoa Rubbed Niman Ranch Pork Tenderloin $17

Slices of pork tenderloin that was roasted and rubbed with cocoa powder served with sweet potato/yam (not sure which, website says SP, owner said yam) mash and asian pear Mostarda. Incredibly tender and flavorful the pork had a great partner in the cocoa spice rub. The sweetness from the cocoa was matched with two very good sides. Poached then diced Asian Pear and a pureed yam mash. The yam mash was exciting, just a smidgen of sweetness from the sappy yam with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg(?). I just kept reaching across the table to scoop from Frank's plate.

Finally, Sharon had the pan roasted local seabass $14

Fennel and EVOO with a cherry tomato sauce accompanies the Sea Bass. I love the use of capers in a dish, it adds a certain amount of saltiness that enhances the flavor of the fish and fennel. The EVOO tomato sauce was light but full of flavor. I enjoyed the flavor of this more than my halibut but I enjoyed the preparation of the halibut more. I thought the fish could have been cooked better, it was a little rubbery at the center but I found the taste of the fish well executed with laser focused flavor.

After letting our bellies rest we ordered two desserts to share.

Spice Roasted Pineapple Brulee $6

A dallop of fresh pineapple sorbet sits on top of the pineapple. The pineapple is made in the "creme Brulee" fashion. It's first spiced and then coated with sugar and then seared to create a hard shell around the top of the pineapple. This was a good dessert, it was fresh and airy.. also made me feel healthy since it was a piece of fruit right? (hehe). The problem with this dish, is it had to come along with one of the best desserts I've had in awhile.

Cranberry Bread Pudding $6

Served with a very generous scoop of Vanilla Gelato and a caramel pistashio sauce. First, the bread pudding was perfectly executed, I was initially afraid that the cranberry would be overwhelming but it was a nice compliment to the soft moist bread pudding. Full of sweet cinnamon flavor, the bread pudding was outstanding. The best part of this dish? The Gelato. Creamy and dense and packed full of vanilla bean flavor. *yummmmm*. Everyone at the table was raving about the gelato.

I really enjoyed this restaurant, I'm glad that they opened. I feel they are still working some kinks out, my fish was a little below warm but everyone elses dishes came out spectacularly. I can see this place being an absolute STUNNER by the end of the year. The service was spot on, quick and attentive but not hovering and Ron's wine service was superb.

I can't wait to go back!

And... I didn't wait long to go back. 6 days later

Had a couple of new things here. (sorry no pictures)

roasted california almonds: Like eating little bites of healthy bbq fritos. I love bbq frito twists. I was nibbling at these all night.

"cabernet" marinated local olives: don't like olives =( Everyone else liked them.

berkshire pork piquillo relleno:Couldn't eat the pork, but the part everyone liked was the vegetables under the pork. Edamame with Mustard green with some sort of Parsley/Herb Oil infusion. Very tasty. I picked all 3 plates clean of the veggie.

Ravioli: I was a bit worried when this was ordered, cause I dont' usually have good experiences with Ravioli at non-italian restaurants. These are two very very large Ravioli's stuffed with Goat Cheese Ricotta. The rich sweat cream like sauce from the beet mixed splendidly with the sharpness of the Ricotta. The ravioli was appropriately thick in which it didn't detract from the cheese and sauce with too much dough.

I was utterly amazed by the sauce.

duo of cypress island salmon: An interesting play on Negi-Toro. Instead of Tuna Belly they used Salmon belly mixed with green onions. Served alongside house cured salmon. I've always liked the thick consistency of Negi-Toro and this was similar but with a silkier salmon taste. (not as fatty as Negi-toro of course)

Japanese 75: Plymouth gin, yuzu, sparkling wine: Yuzu juice is one of my favorite additions to food and drink due to its complex citrus flavor. Added in with the lightly woody gin and the acidic and sharp minerality from the sparkling wine it created a thick textured mouth coating drink that stayed in your mouth sip after sip.

Service was spot on as usual. Around 8:00pm the place was packed. Not an empty seat in the house with 3-4+ tables waiting to be seated.

Alchemy Restaurant
1503 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92102


Friday, April 3, 2009

Haiku to Kogi Taco Truck (Los Angeles)

Wait was two hours
Little meat, plenty of sauce
Why so popular?

Seriously, 2-3 bites done, scattered bits of meat drench in marinade. A pointless cabbage slaw that just tasted like vinegar. Cold corn tortilla. What's up with that? Really $2?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Oceanaire (San Diego, CA)

Three years ago while watching Top Chef I saw that one of the contestants was the Executive Chef somewhere in San Diego. I really didn't pay it much attention cause I had no clue how far the guy was going. But when Brian Malarke made it to the final 3 that season I thought I should do some research on the restaurant he worked at.

After dabbling in some google search I found out he worked at the downtown seafood restaurant Oceanaire. After browsing through the site I found out it was a chain restaurant. There were numerous locations throughout the United States. Not wanting to spend my "hard earned" bucks at a fancy chain when so many new exciting restaurants were opening in San Diego, I put it on the backlog and didn't think about it again.

Now fast forward 3 years *vroooom* .
My friend Joseph Wu was visiting from out of town and asked if I wanted to get dinner. He has a specific restrictions on what he eats, but what he does eat plenty of is shellfish. I racked my brain for food that would meet his specifications.. and my mind just kept jumping to clams, mussels, oysters... where can I get fresh clams, mussels, and oysters? Finally I remembered Oceanaire. Seeing as they had a very large assortment of fresh oysters I called Frank, picked up Joe from his hotel and we found our way to the Gaslamp.

We were seated promptly by the Maitre D in big lush burgundy leather booths... right near the restroom. Show dem young boys where we put them, not in the main dining room with the folks with money *wink*. As promptly as we were seated we were well met by the waitress. Let me tell you, I was impressed by the service. The waitress and the bus boy were attentive to our needs, came by frequently to check on us, and answered the barrage of questions I delivered. It's also only the 2nd time I've brought wine to a restaurant that the waitress/waiter actually opened it and served us the wine throughout the night. The waitress and busboy were always around and casually observed their area like a mother eagle watching their chicks.

During the start of the evening, Monday through Friday 5pm-6pm they have happy hour at the bar.

They have a couple of $1 oysters (any oyster on the main menu that is $1.95), $6 Fish & Chips, $3 Clam Chowder, and some other delicious deals. We came we ate and we conquered a dozen oysters last happy hour.

The dining room menu centers around fresh daily seafood. Their menu changes daily (especially the oyster list) with whatever they get in as a shipment. So an oyster you like one day, might not be there the next. =(. They do have some "common" fish staples that they always keep on the menu, they are routinely labeled as fresh that day, but not always.

So to start off your meal they give you a bit of a palate cleanser. A complimentary Relish tray.

Pickled Herring, radish, celery, carrots, onions, peppers... freshen up your mouth for the ocean assault that would come before us.

The herring had a nice bite with just enough sweet meat to balance out the sourness, I asked for more and the waitress gave me a plate of it. FREE SEAFOOD? GOTCHA SUCKAS.

After owning the free fish we started off with a round of oysters.

Blue Point : These are incredibly popular oysters in NY. They started off in Long Island and apparently it has been all the rage there since they came around. I think these are very good "beginner" oysters. They have a low level of brine, a good amount of meat to fat, and they are mild and medium sized.

Sister Point : Found in Washington @ Hood Canal, these were oddly briny, they had a very exciting meaty consistency that I didn't find in the other oysters but without the aid of vinegar or lemon it was like drinking sea water.

Fanny Bay: Found in British Columbia, this was probably my favorite oyster. It was smallish medium with a hint of crisp dill and salt water with a touch of metallic flavor without the fat of some of the other oysters. Pure decadence, simple.. to the point. Tray grown and very popular and abundant. I'm a cheap date.. what can I say?

Hama Hama:Found in Puget Sound, Washington the oysters are a Medium sized oysters with a fat sack of rich brine that bursts from the oyster. This might be more distracting for a noobie oyster eater due the oyster having more scattered flavors of some bitter green without the meatiness of the blue point.

After popping down those decadent treats we proceeded on to our next course. Frank and Joe ordered a bowl of their Clam Chowder while I patiently waited for my dinner.

After taking a spoonful of Frank's, I promptly flagged down the waitress and told her how outraged I was that she didn't tell me they were serving Ambrosia today. Or... I flagged her down and asked for a cup of CHOWDA as well.

I do not like thick chunky clam chowder. In fact, I HATE thick chunky clam chowder. I refuse to drink thick chunky clam chowder, and I say *PHATOY* as I spit in the face of chunky clam chowder. This bowl of CHOWDA was not thick chunky clam chowder. Generously loaded with oysters and herbs, it was creamy but with a more brothy texture. You can smell the smokiness from the bacon that was rising from the soup. Toss in a few oyster crackers and you got yourself a treat.

Both Joe and Frank ordered Mussels. Joe had the Steamed Mussels A la Mariniere while Frank had the Prince Edward Mussels Diablo.

Their plates were LOADED with mussels. They each had a small town's worth of mussels on the plate.. at least 25 mussels a piece. The standard Mussel preparation (ala Joe's) was a steamed mussel with a chardonnay broth. The sauce had a citrus, light vanilla, taste mixed in with the saltiness of the mussel. Classically done and excellent. The mussels were plump and tender.
Frank's was cooked in a hot pepper sauce with lemons and onions. Didn't have the richness of Joe's mussels but it worked well in it's own way. The mussels themselves were meatier but not as large as Joe's. The dash of hot pepper in each bite mellowed out the salt and meat that came with the mussel.

For my dish I ordered House Battered Fish and Chips.

The fish is battered in Karl Strauss Red Trolley Ale which resulted in a puffy, soft, with an almost sweet malty flavor. They used Mahi Mahi as the base fish.
The angle of my picture is midly deceitful. There were 6 pieces of 5-6 inch fried fish and probably a pound of fries (I think Kathy wants to go here now). Each time you bit into the fish a mound of steam would bloom from where you bit. The fish was flaky, tender, buttery, and full of flavor. My only complaint about the fish, was that the batter wasn't sturdy enough, as you picked it up (both times I ordered this) the fish pieces would just split in half. I'm thinking the batter was just too thick.

The fries are thin fries sprinkled with what I think is Parmesan and chives. If you grab a handful and put it in your mouth, it tastes like you're eating Lay's Sour Cream and Onion. It was kind of weird. When I go again, I'm asking them to go light on whatever powder they put on the fries. On the other hand, the fries are nice and crisp.

The food was far and away better than what I expected. Frank and I both want to come again to try their fresh fish selections to see if it'll really put the restaurant over the top. The service was great, the restaurant was nicely appointed, and the noise level was enough for us to converse, enjoy some fresh seafood, and drink some lovely wine.

What wines you say?

2002 Jadot Louis Gevrey Chambertin Clos St Jacques: A beautiful nose of a fresh french strawberry picked out of the dirt, sweet but smooth with a touch of violet. A very pure wine with light red fruit, brown sugar, a hint of fresh forest floor.. a little bit fruit forward but VERY enjoyable in a pop and pour. The finish is medium length/acidity. Tannins start to come out as the night wore on showing the stuffing of this wine

Red Label NV Krug: The wine was showing it's age, easily a 15-20+ year old wine at the point. Deep golden color with racey caramel, yeast, with an earthiness you don't find in N.V. Krug anymore. A large amount of acidity matches the citrus and spice. *yum*.

Now to end the post, I want to take you to the restroom.

NOTHING shows high end dining *smirk* than actual cloth towels opposed to paper towels in the restroom. Also in case you need lotion, face wash, toothpaste, shaving cream, and mouth wash it was all available around the sink.

And finally as any fine gentleman needs, a shoe buffer.

We didn't ask to see Brian, he would have known the moment he saw me that I was a Hung man all the way. =P. Hopefully you'll be able to visit Oceanaire and enjoy it as much as I did. If you just want to try the freshly shucked oysters, the Bar is always there. If you don't make it to Happy Hour their oysters are $1.50 at the bar opposed to $1.00 during happy hour.


The Oceanaire
400 J Street
San Diego, California 92101