Another book club dinner post! Yay to books and bites! For July, the girls met at Urban Plates, a farm fresh restaurant located in the huge shopping/dining plaza off El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights. You move through cafeteria style, pick out your main plate, salad, sandwich, etc then select from an eye-catching medley of hot and cold sides. As a heads up, there are two lines, one for salads and one for other dishes so make sure you go in the correct one, especially if it's shorter! Payment is made at the end before you seat yourself.
The urban plates ($10) come with a choice of meat and two sides or four sides with no meat. I ordered the medium rare Grilled Steak Plate on a previous visit. The beef strips looked gorgeous but weren't as tender or flavorful as some other places. It was accompanied with simple rectangular bread and I was curious if I would have liked it better as a sandwich. I picked lightly sauted brussel sprouts and an interesting mushroom squash medley for my sides.
San Diego to Play Host to the Largest Latin Food, Wine & Spirits Event in the U.S.
¡LATIN FOOD FEST! transforms San Diego’s Embarcadero into a showcase for 200 restaurants, chefs, foods makers and renowned wine, beer and spirit purveyors.
This upcoming September 11-13 2014, ¡LATIN FOOD FEST!’s premier culinary extravaganza will take place in downtown San Diego with some of the world’s best chefs, distillers and vintners, and the region’s top Latin restaurants. ¡LATIN FOOD FEST! (www.latinfoodfest.com) will once again educate palates and entertain patrons in high style at six events, which will include an Opening Party, Educational Seminars, Cocktail Parties, Chef Dinner, Chef Demonstrations on the Celebrity Cooking Stage, Silent Auctions, Culinary Grand Tasting Event, and Wine Reception.
Grand Tasting Village, presented by The Lincoln Motor Company, will be held on September 13 at the Embarcadero Marina Park North, San Diego Bay and feature 100 tasting tents, cooking demonstrations, a live music stage, book signings and thematic brand hosted pavilions, including “Latin Wines of the World” Presented by Henry Wine Group, “VIP Playa” Presented by Stella Artois, “Spirits of the Americas” Presented by Constellation Brands and “Taste Baja” Presented by Mexico Tourism Board.
An Italian restaurant called Cucina Basilico opened within the last couple of months in the Serra Mesa area. I had been eyeing it as a dine-in alternative to our favorite take-out deli, Mangia Mangia and grabbed two coworkers for a trial lunch run.
The restaurant is cozy in size and provides booths, tables and bar seating. The left side was darker than the right side due to a single large window next to the entrance. I didn't realize this until uploading pictures but the right wall looks unfinished! Or that's some kind of wacky decorating style.
Our waiter promptly provided us menus and explained the restaurant concept: for pasta dishes, you pick one of their three homemade pastas (selection changes daily) and you choose the sauce, which is where the prices varied. For example, that day we had a choice between gnocchi, fettuccine and one other I couldn't quite catch.
After placing our orders, the waiter brought out some complimentary appetizer bread accompanied by vinegar and oil to dip it in. This bread was fluffy and simple in taste and the sweeter basalmic was great with it.
For my entree, I ordered the Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce ($8.55).
I've been meaning to visit Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ with Dennis and we finally made it there this week. Our friend David joined us for dinner to check out the Monday all day happy hour. It was busy at 8pm and I provided my cell to be texted when a table opened up (estimated 45 minutes). To pass time we strolled through the nearby Trader Joe's. I’ve been thinking of late... wouldn't it be awesome if Oh-SoYummy had our own minion (similar to This Tasty Life) I looked at our friend David curiously… but no, he preferred “consultant”!
20-25 minutes later, we checked back at the restaurant and a table was available within a few minutes. After sitting down, I pointed everyone toward the containers of dipping sauces, consisting of sweet soy, spicy, and ponzu. We prepared our sauces but noted the thicker sweet soy required more *shakes* to get it out! The sign behind the sauces showed that a membership card costs $1, and each $250 you spent earned $25 off your next bill – essentially a 10% 'earnings' ... not too bad of an investment.
The grills here were round and a little smaller than some of the other restaurants I've been to. The grates are smaller too so food wouldn’t drop through the holes as easily! We were hungry and ready to order meat! In fact, there was a whole menu dedicated to the happy hour items, 4 pages worth!
The first item to arrive was our order of Harami Skirt Steak ($8.50), accompanied by the instructions of "30-45 seconds per side." They told us cooking times for all the meats, which was very helpful! They definitely did not do that at Tsuruhashi!
We were recently invited to dine at the new Richard Walker's Pancake House in La Jolla. Instead of our usual sleep-in weekend mornings, we were out of bed early to beat the crowds. Hello 8AM breakfast! And as they say, the early bird gets the worm - we scored parking right around the corner and didn't have to wait to be seated. The outdoor patio area was uncrowded and perfect for us to enjoy a breath of fresh and early morning air.
There were plenty of options including omelettes and pancakes but I wanted an eggs benedict. The menu here offered two versions but the canadian bacon won over the turkey patty version. Sometimes I'm left hungry after this dish but the English muffins were generous (used to be smaller from what I heard) with toppings sized to match!
A couple of years ago, Dennis and I ate at Saigon on Fifth with some friends and enjoyed not one, but THREE delicious sea bass dishes, all differently prepared! We had been meaning to revisit and after a tasty sample during Taste of Hillcrest 2014 and some birthday celebrations, we finally made it back!
The first birthday was for Dennis (a few months ago). The first entree was the 360 Beef, moist morsels of cubed beef. It reminded me of the beef dish we had at Pho Ban Mai, but less oily and at a slightly higher price. They were accented with crispy fried onions and plated on lettuce with rice on the side. The meat was all gone before long.
The second entree was the Creamy Basil Fish, which is the full size dish of the sampler from Taste of Hillcrest. We chose the sea bass version over the salmon when given the choice by our waiter. The fish was fall apart tender and satisfying with the flavorful curry sauce. The rice was put to good use to soak up every last bite of the yummy sauce!
Dennis and I were invited to try out Solare Ristorante for a taste of Southern Italy. We rarely dine in Point Loma area so thought it was the perfect opportunity to do so!
For starters, we were brought Focaccia bread which was fluffy and adorned with tasty heirloom tomatoes. Olive oil with oregano and sea salt was served on the side. If you're a big dipper like Dennis, you'll pick up a heavier dose of salt if you hit the bottom. We loved this!
We selected the Pere & Gorgonzola Salad which was split in two (one half is pictured). The salad had slightly crisp bartlett pears, candied walnuts, stronger gorgonzola cheese and a sweeter balsalmic reduction glaze. I appreciated the balanced composition of this salad and would totally order it again.
I picked out a newer place called Santo Sushi for a post-workout dinner. Santo Sushi is located east of I-15 off Clairemont Mesa Blvd on the left side of a plaza that also housed a Vons grocery store. The place isn't too big and has approximately 9 or 12 tables/booths. The woman who was our server was very friendly and helped answer our questions on the different rolls available. She beamed that they used real crab meat mixed with imitation crab meat in their rolls. We finally decided on two of the special rolls and one off the regular menu.
The first roll we received was the menu special Del Mar House Roll. Inside was their advertised crab meat mix which we thought was nice and tasty, speared through with asparagus for a bit of texture. What was different about the roll was the seared beef on top. We thought the beef itself was soft and easy to chew but still not quite the same effect as fish in a sushi roll. It was decent but I'll always prefer fish sushi over beef sushi.
Our next roll was one of the house recommendations, the Santo Roll...