04 September 2006

Yet another snobbish restaurant review

Ever since arriving in San Diego I have been on the search for new and interesting food and restaurants that do different versions of the favourites I have enjoyed back home. This has been a touch problematic as the food in California is considered by most gastronomes to be what you scrape off your shoe after walking through a dog park. Either way I thought it would be worth trying out. I am now in a much higher tax bracket, which affords me a few additional luxuries. So far the results have been mixed. While the Mexican food has been fantastic, with Fidel’s in Solana Beach clearly leading the way, there are only so many times in a day when I crave authentic Mexican food. I also don’t feel that in general it is a very broad cuisine.

Saturday night we went to the Wine Sellar and Brasserie. We have gone to the Wine Sellar very frequently but most for wine tasting on Sundays and picking up a few choice bottles of wine. The staff has always been phenomenally helpful and have rarely steered us wrong. As a result I am finding myself becoming something of a wine snob. They have yet to really steer me wrong and I have enjoyed quite a few tasty wines as a result.

Now Michael and Jennifer had told me that the Brasserie portion was something of a French restaurant. This had me very excited as I had yet to eat at a French restaurant since arriving here and I love French cuisine. This was not something I held out a lot of hope for finding in San Diego as no one here truly takes food seriously. But trusting to my friends and the reputation they had built by my experience I was excited to try it out.

The restaurant itself is actually above the wine shop and you walk directly through the shop to get to it. Michael picked up a bottle downstairs to bring upstairs. I don’t remember the name of it but it was of an upper range of white wine and quite enjoyable. The setting itself is posh if not slightly dated. Brass accents and frosted glass should give you an idea of what I meant.

We were quickly seated and our host managed to find a chilled bottle for us. The menu is limited which is always a welcome sign, it means they have determined what they do very well and limited the menu to fit only that. There were a few options on the menu the piqued my interest but I think it was always clear that the filet mignon was always on the list. With a cut like a filet mignon you always order it rare so that the superior cut of meet is allowed to stand alone on your pallet. I also ordered the summer squash ravioli. Michael and Jennifer are always limited when easting out as it is very hard to find a lot of kosher options but luckily they seem to manage.

My first course the ravioli arrived. The presentation was well done. The flavour of the ravioli seemed to be buried too much in butter and salt, which is unfortunate because it ruined the natural contrast of flavours. It was not entirely without merit but I think the most disappointing part of this was the fact that it could have been easily improved by simply limiting the amount of butter and salt put in the meal.

The second course made it to our table very shortly after we had finished. The pacing of the meal was kept brisk without feeling rushed, which I appreciated. My filet arrived sitting on a medallion of potatoes and caramelized onions, surrounded by gravy. The filet was perfectly prepared and the cut was perfect. The meet melted like butter in my mouth. The medallion was very nice and quite a compliment to the filet. The gravy was again a little bit more salty than I would have liked but on the whole not exactly terrible.

In the final analysis a meal is roughly $50 a person and up. The food itself is good but lacks the artistry of an excellent restaurant. However, there is something to be said for safe restaurants in San Diego where there are so few to be had in the first place.


At 8:56 AM, Blogger Marc said...

Fidel's in Solana Beach is probably the best Mexican restaurant I have been to in San Diego. Although I do have a place in my heart (and stomach) for Bahia Don Bravo in La Jolla, too.


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