Had family in town over the last few days which resulted in a number of meals out. For the most part they were pretty good
Fireside at Liberty Station
We stopped in for lunch on Friday. Since it was still a little overcast we decided to sit inside rather than on the patio. Inside, which is actually the bar, was quite nice and the music was, thankfully, low enough that we could carry on a conversation without yelling. I had the kale salad and my sister and BIL both had the broccoli and shaved cauliflower salad. I added shrimp to my salad, my sister added their “fish” to hers and my BIL went with the chicken add on, all of which were cooked over their wood fire grill. The shrimp, tho’ a tad over cooked were a great addition to the kale salad and added a nice smokey element. The fish was barramundi, and while the restaurant recommends their smoked trout with the broccoli salad, the barramundi paired well too.
Service was fine for lunch, a little on the casual side but not inattentive.
We buzzed through Liberty Public Market and ended up in the Grape Smuggler where we each had a glass of wine. They are really nice in there and provided tastes of their by the glass wines before we made a final selection. I tried a wine that was new to me, Croatina, and like it well enough to purchase a bottle.
Service was friendly and efficient, they really wanted us to like our selections before they poured a whole glass and were engaged and patient in explaining each wine about which we were inquiring.
Given the amount of really great word-of-mouth I’d been hearing about this place, I was anxious to give it a go. Ended up with a seriously good, good meal. Trust is on the ground floor of the Mr. Robinson building at Park & Robinson. This is a modern glass, steel and concrete building and so is the restaurant, you probably don’t have to use your imagine to know what the noise level is like. Yep, L-O-U-D. We didn’t have to yell across the table, but we did have to raise our voices to carry on a conversation. The restaurant was 2/3 to 3/4 full the entire time we were there with the number of guests dropping towards the end of our meal, and along with fewer guests came less noise. Yes, the noise was mildly annoying, but it was more than offset by the food.
The bulk of the menu are dishes that are meant to be shared, so we went with the shishito peppers and the shrimp and andouille sausage with garbanzos. The portion is generous and the peppers addictive. I think all of us were surprised at how remarkably good the shrimp and sausage dish was. The flavors melded together to great a dish that was savory and very satisfying.
The entrees were spectacular. I had the branzino. The grilled (with some charring) whole fish arrived perfectly cooked and on the bone. Probably one of the best fish dishes I’ve had in SD in a long time. The mild white fish was perfectly tender, moist and utterly succulent and the skin crisp enough to eat as well. It was a bigger fish than I had bargained for but I did manage to get around the whole thing. If there was something else on the plate - other than the grilled lemon half - I don’t recall what it was. My sister had the halibut which also was cooked to the correct degree of doneness without going over the edge in the dry halibutlandia. The plate presentation was a gorgeous play of pale yellows and greens from spring vegetables. Trust is just transitioning from their Spring to their Summer menu and my BIL chose one of the new Summer entrees, a bacon chop. It’s essentially a tomahawk cut pork chop (bone unfrenched) with the pork belly portion still attached. Stunning piece of meat, not to mention substantial.
For dessert my sister and I shared the milk chocolate custard with espresso ice cream. It was creamy and crunchy but the fried basil didn’t work with the chocolate all that well.
Service was fine, could have been a little more attentive but I counted only 2 waitstaff for inside and outside and they were busy but not slammed.
Trust is a hit and I look forward to going back and trying more of the menu.
For me the KC always seems better than it really is. Service is casual to spotty and food is average to okay. But…when you’re looking for an easy early morning breakfast it’ll fit the bill nicely.
Yesterday was my aunt’s 99th birthday so we took her to AR Valentein for lunch. If you’ve never been it’s a beautiful venue with great views of the torrey pines, the golf course and, of course, the ocean. Lots of rich, dark wood done in Craftsmans style.
The food was artfully done. My sister and I split a light and flavorful citrus salad composed of spotted romaine, orange and grapefruit supremes, shallots and toasted pine nuts. The minestra soup was full of spring vegetables and a huge mound of Tuscan kale. Chicken under a Brick was 2 crisp skinned chicken thighs and more of that Tuscan kale. The roasted swordfish with minted quinoa was a hit as was the seared albacore and spinach salad. The most interesting dish was their take on a crab Louie. The crab came encased in two perfectly round spheres of thinly sliced avocado that were set atop the rest of the Louie ingredients.
They brought my aunt a ginormous slice of strawberry rhubarb cake for her birthday and I ordered the frozen pistachio parfait. The cake was a miss but the parfait wasn’t and it was worth every single calorie.
I am always a little surprised at the food at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. The dishes always look so simple and often times plain, yet they (mostly) deliver on flavor and taste.
Service at AR Valentein was a miss. It was uneven and not particularly attentive.
I’ve eaten extremely well over the last 3 days and now it’s back to my regular routine My BIL deals with RA but has been able to control a lot of it through diet. He has gotten good at making menu choices and is not particularly demanding of substitutions. At Fireside, no substitutions were need. At Trust his pork chop was supposed to come with blue cheese potatoes. Since nightshades are trigger for him, his request for double veg rather than the potatoes was accommodated. The Kensington Cafe was happy to sub in cut fruit for the breakfast potatoes and AR Valentein had no problem subbing vinaigrette for 1,000 Island on the Louie salad.
As a group we here tend to be overly critical of some of our local restaurants. Some of it may be deserved, but by and large, our local restaurants are doing a lot of things right, a good job and they are oriented towards making the guest feel at home. Now if they’d just do something about the noise levels…