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I first noticed Red Card Cafe when they followed our Oh-So Yummy Instagram. I peeked at their account and saw they were opening soon in San Diego. A few weeks later, they popped up again for San Diego Restaurant Week with a $20 dinner. A visit was ripe for the picking. Their San Diego Restaurant dinner menu included a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert for only $20 and is attached at the end of the post.
Other than a visit to Isabella Pizzeria, we use Morena Blvd in this area strictly for Costco shopping. I was cruising through idly and barely caught sight of the restaurant. There was parking along the street but google maps indicated a back parking lot with an entrance north of the building. I somehow missed that.
My friend Cisco (i.e. headcinema) joined me for dinner. He takes creative eye-catching photos so I like learning tips from him. The strung lights, red umbrellas and natural light enticed us to sit outside before the last rays of sunshine disappeared over the horizon. Picture op!
Candy Stripe Beet Salad | burrata, mix greens, pickled fennel, fennel vinaigrette, fennel fronds, toasted hazelnut
Beets have been in my radar after a tasty test kitchen version from Sababa Kitchen (opening winter 2017). The beets in this salad were firm yet giving, plus slightly sweet without a strong beet flavor. Luckily the fennel wasn't overpowering the spinach and other mixed greens. I believe there was a light vinaigrette over this uncomplicated salad. The silky burrata was adored but I have never met a burrata that I didn't like. *crosses fingers*
Kale Caesar | BBQ kale chips, romaine, house caesar dressing, shaved parmesa, capers
There was something magical about the crisp BBQ kale chips, nice and salty and contrasting against the creamier dressing caressed lettuce bites. Cisco added that it "offered that toasted/sweet flavor to the tongue." It was a solid choice as a starter.
Crispy Salmon | furikaki cauliflower, rice, seared baby bok choi, mushroom trio, sake/soy/mirin glaze, chili flake, scallion
I continued the meal with a healthy salmon, cooked through but still flakey and moist. The skin was seared to a thick crust and seasoned with enough chili flakes that tickled my tongue spicy. A bed of sauted mushrooms loomed into view after I dug into the fish. The cauliflower rice was fun with the furikaki mix but was a bit mushier than expected. I thought it would be similar to fried rice texture. The vegetables were grilled maybe a minute too long and slightly withered.
Cubano Sandwich | lemonade brined pork, hot house pickles, dijonaisse
Cisco went with carbs, i.e., hefty sandwich. He politely cut off a small section for me to sample. The savory pork is brined in house and sandwiched between lightly toasted buttered bread with a layer of gruyere cheese and a sweet pickle. I expected mustard but there was a hint in the mayo-dijon spread labeled "dijonaisse". He proclaimed "sauce is boss" and asked for more. Agreed.
Crispy fries filled out the rest of the plate, as well as our stomachs. I thought it could have used a touch of salt but still ravaged through the leftovers. I believe the chef said they tried seven different types before deciding on these. This entree was enough to feed my very hungry friend.
It was getting dark outside so we took a look around for different seating. Besides the patio, there's this back room that looked perfect for a private party. A few tables and a bar were in the front areas.
Guajillo Vahlrona Chocolate Truffles | chili powder, powdered sugar
On to dessert! These chocolate truffles were rich and melted on your tongue. I also remember having this strange feeling of spicy. My friend didn't believe me until the chef confirmed a spicy chili powder as an ingredient. So looks like my taste buds were functioning, but perhaps just a little more sensitive than my spice loving friend!
Housemade Strawberry Scones | white balsamic glaze
I'm not much of a scone person so I only took one nibble. I thought it would to be more sugary due to the shiny glaze but it was a mellow sweetness. Friend and I agreed that it could have been a little more moist on the inside.
The restaurant had been open for little over a month at this point. They challenged themselves to take on potential SDRW crowds for additional exposure. The owner Justin was helping the staff during service and checked in on guests. We also ended up meeting Chef Drew who had 16 years of experience. Drew verbalized his ideas of fresh ingredients and how most foods were made from scratch. He also took constructive criticism from us. We had found some items were done well while others needed a little finesse. I expect things will only get better with feedback as the business grows.
Disclaimer: The owner comp'ed our meal for this visit but the opinions are strictly our own.
Red Card Cafe
4140 Morena Blvd
San Diego CA 92117