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Lately in San Diego, it's been raining a bit. This kind of weather temps me to morph into my homebody self, safe and dry from the rain, but a little drizzle couldn't stop us from a San Diego Restaurant Week preview at Parc Bistro Brasserie. This restaurant took over the Banker's Hill spot of the well known Croces (4+ decades of live music and dining between here and gaslamp). I'd been having good luck with picks in the Banker's Hill area (Azuki Sushi, Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant) and hoped to keep the trend going!
We checked in at the front and were shown to our seats in the cozy back area. A huge wine rack display caught my eye and other guests seemed quite content, enjoying a glass or two with intimate company.
We felt like we were on a date night with the romantic French music filling the air plus we could read our menus (I prefer this over darker 'ambiance' lighting)! For the San Diego Restaurant Week $40 dinner menu, there were between 5-6 choices for the appetizers and entrees, making it hard to choose. Everything sounded so good! We were informed that their best dishes were available as part of San Diego Restaurant Week!
Since we hardly dine at French restaurants, we wanted to go for the Escargot, a well known French specialty. Six snail bites came on a plate surrounded with a parsley butter sauce. We thought the snail meat itself was very lightly salted with no surprises on its texture but noted the strong garlicky flavor was key to our enjoyment (we don't mind). In fact, the crusty bruschetta on the side was perfect for dipping up the saucy remains.
French Onion Soup
The broth was more mellow and quite nice, not too oily as some I've tasted. We found the caramelized onions as well as little bits of soaking croutons beneath the gruyere cheese top and thought it to be a pleasant all-together. This french onion soup was extremely hot in temperature! Dennis dipped his spoon to mix and it heated up just from that! Be careful not to burn your tongue!
This month was the first time I've seen the word "branzino" AND it had popped up in several different menus, which of course piqued my curiosity. Our waiter Gerry explained that it was a mediterranean sea bass and more of a flaky flesh than steak type. As soon as it came out, I was already anticipating the deliciousness. The porportions were plentiful with two large filets, which were as moist and flaky as he had promised. Tomatoes and katamata olives worked together to give it a playful balance between acidic and saltiness. Underneath was a bed of brothy orzo which I absolutely loved but Dennis thought was too slippery. The green beans were just cooked with a nice sprinkling of salt to them. I'd highly recommend this dish.
We originally ordered the Orange Glazed Duck but found out later it wasn't ready. The orange glazed duck is a specialty prepped ahead of time and served on Sundays but would also be available throughout SDRW... we were just a few days too early. Instead, they substituted Duck Confit, which sounded just as delicious, but is not part of the SDRW menu.
That duck meat though! Slightly crisp skin on the outside but perfectly succulent and incredibly tender inside. It was a nice smoked reddish color and wasn't heavy in bold flavors. Greens were buttery and nicely salted while the mushrooms underneath tasted as if they were taken from a bourguignon stew. The only downside were the potato bits, which were plenty garlicky and cooked to the right tenderness but a tad too salty. We could not finish those.
I had trouble deciding on a dessert and finally landed on the chocolat mousse. I think the best part turned out to be the dark hazelnut chocolate piece protruding out the glass. Dennis exclaimed that the mousse itself tasted like chocolate ice cream but not as cold and creamy. The mousse felt too heavy at the end due to the filling entrees plus Dennis and I were only mildly interested in very deep chocolate profiles.
On the other hand, a brulee was more of our style and we went at it like crack addicts. The top was wonderfully crystalized, and the insides were more custardy if you have a preference for that. The strawberries were that fresh tarty sweetness to tone down the rest of the creamy sweet.
Our waiter Gerry took very good care of us that night and his best line (about the branzino) was something similar to "If you don't like it, I'll finish it and get you something else!" But after a bite of that fabulous fish, he wasn't getting ANY scraps from me! We went gaga over the entrees and are now even more curious about the ones we haven't tried! I'm no expert on French food but we thought our dishes were very good. Parc Bistro Brasserie seems like another great secret spot in the Banker's Hill area so we hope others have a chance to check it out as well. San Diego Restaurant Week goes on until Sunday January 22 so there's still time to book a table!
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and our meal was complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are our own.
Parc Bistro Brasserie
2760 Fifth Ave
San Diego CA 92103