Monday, December 29, 2008


If you've been to the Grand Hotel Del Mar but never eaten at Addison, I think you missed out. Some say Addison is a rebuttal against claims of our city's lack of good fine dining options. Others say it's our answer to fine dining on the East coast. (I came across such sentiments while browsing my holiday dining options.) Naturally, this screamed for my attention.

The initial plan was to order the holiday special (must be ordered for entire table), but at the last moment I decided to go with the normal menu items instead. This way I would be able to taste a wider array of Chef William Bradley's creations. I hope you guys will enjoy my review as much as I enjoyed dining at Addison.

Before I begin, I would like to thank General Manager Mark Steenge and his staff for not only impeccable service but also attending to all my needs and graciously allowing me to use a full tripod in the restaurant. Mr. Steenge's table selection for me was also very considerate, offering privacy, ample room to set up, and terrific lighting. Without his considerations, some of these photos would otherwise have not have been possible.

The meal started off with an amuse bouche that got me and my brother into a discussion into how the heck apples could be pureed into something this smooth and silky. Acidity from the green apple and the crème fraîche really got my stomach growling. As the Chinese would say, it was really "kai wei," or hunger/appetite inducing.

First Course:

Crevettes Rouge - salted peanuts, chives and black truffle jus

My first bite into the flesh of these succulent prawns pretty much set my expectations for the rest of the meal. I expected no less than perfection and Addison did not disappoint. The springiness of the meat is a testament to the skill and quality/freshness of ingredients you would find here. I'd be content just eating the prawns alone, but dabbing each bite into the black truffle jus takes the dish to a whole new level. The flavors compliment each other very well.

Yes, the truffle jus is delicious. I love that earthy mushroom taste so much that I tried mopping up the remainder with the fabulous brioche set on the table but the two just don't taste all that great together. Trust me on this one.

La Jardinere - fine herbs, candied quice, and parmigiano-reggiano

What? A salad? Yup. I (almost) never order salads on account that there are usually other menu items that interest me. Addison's seasonal menu, however, puts me in a very irritating position I rarely find myself in--I wanted to order everything. This salad features 15 different lettuces lightly drizzled with olive oil and some sort of cab-based dressing. The verdict: Damned. Good. Salad. Sure it does not have the *bang* on the palate like the prawns did, but the subtle differences in flavor among the various leaves was a fun experience for my tastebuds.

Second Course:

Confit of Porc Sale - ruby red beets and black licorice-balsamic glaze

Pork belly has found its way onto many restaurant menus, so obviously I had to try Bradley's version. It's been about five days since this dinner and every time I look at this picture I fantasize about how "melt-in-you-mouth"-good the fatty portion of the cut was. Yes, the leaner bottom half is very tender, but we all know the tastiest part is the fattiest part. The balsamic glaze lends its delicate flavor to the meat to make every bite nothing short of heavenly. Just don't forget to eat the beets.

Warm Potato Gnocchi - ricotta fondue, arugula and preserved lemon

It was hard to choose between this and the butternut squash/foie gras ravioli. It was at this point that I seriously considered ordering another set of four courses. I don't remember the last time I've felt this way about a restaurant. Such tempting menu items executed with Chef Bradley and Durfield's is awe inspiring.

Though the photograph may suggest otherwise, this is not necessarily a "heavy" dish. If you do find yourself experiencing palate fatigue, the ricotta fondue and preserved lemon will freshen you right up. My brother who is a pasta and gnocchi fanatic gave this dish two emphatic thumbs up.

Third Course:

Spring Lamb Persille - toasted pistachio puree, date and sauce chevre

In some cases, a picture declares everything that needs to be said. I believe this photo to be one of those pictures. You hardly need me to tell you how juicy and delicious this slab of meat is. The pink center and dribble of juice tell the whole story. But, the date and toasted pistachio puree is not to be overlooked. Once again I am impressed by the pairing of flavors. "Pistachio butter" and the date work so seamlessly with each other, as does the goat's milk cheese and lamb.

Roasted Veal Tenderloin - jus de cepes and smoked potato puree

Admittedly, I did not taste much of the veal, as this was my brother's entree. Furthermore, the lamb fully occupied my attention when Sommelier Jesse Rodriguez poured me a wonderful glass of Cabernet. The two bites I did have, though, were just as impressive as my lamb. The nice thing about ordering this entree is the inclusion of an absolutely amazing bowl of mashed potatoes. I don't think you will easily find a restaurant that can top Addison's smoked potato puree. It is that damned good. Who knew such a simple comfort food with a twist would taste so good?

Fourth Course:

I neglected to bring a pen to take notes. Consequently, there are a few items that remain nameless in this review, such as the cheeses featured above. I apologize. As for the flavors, again I apologize. I lack both the experience and vocabulary to fully detail the various tastes and aromas offered by cheese. If any readers can help me out, I would be most grateful for the opportunity to learn.

Tip: Mix the two layers.

Cheese is very enjoyable, but the palate needs a brief respite from its overwhelming heaviness before continuing to taste other items. This little sorbet offered just that. I've forgotten what composes the top layer, but the bottom is surely a concoction made with lemon/lime.

Fifth Course:

Lemon-Lime Tartelettes - red cranberry confiture

A series of treats concluded the night:

"Blown away." is what I'd use to describe my first impression of Addison. Service and hospitality? Stellar. The food? Glorious. You don't find this level of professionalism and attention to detail in many of San Diego's upscale restaurants. There is a reason why Addison is San Diego's first AAA five diamond restaurant--it is a cut above all the others.

As weird as this may sound, dinner at Addison was my highlight of 2008. While some of you may playfully (or not so playfully...) scoff at my pathetic life, I truly hope all the patrons to my blog can pencil in an evening on their calendar to enjoy an unparalleled dining experience here. It might not be your highlight, but I assure you, you'll be talking about it for months.

Once again, thank you Mr. Steenge, Chef Bradley, Chef Durfield, and staff for such a memorable dinner. I hope to visit you all soon again.

5200 Grand Del Mar Way
San Diego, CA 92130

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Dining

I have some tasty posts planned right after I face The Moment of Truth next week. Seriously, there has been way too few posts on here and I gotta make up for lost time!

I'm reorganizing my To-Dine list, which is...quite an extensive list. I wish my wallet and waistline could afford them all. If things go well next week, I should be able to. teehee!

One thing is certain, though: Xmas dinner at Addison. I've already made my reservation but they said they'll have to get back to me concerning my photography equipment. So keep those fingers crossed...

I've also started examining a few New Year's Eve options. A lot of restaurants have something going on. To list a few:

The Oceanaire
Four-course prix-fix with eight choices for starters and entrees. That means you and seven other guests can each have something different! Oh man I'd love to photograph that event. Of the available entrees, I am having a hard time deciding whether or not I want lobster thermadore, duck breast (w/ foie gras), or dugeoness crusted seabass. Then again the bigeye tuna also sounds good...

Also, If you guys remember Cpt Jack's review, these guys have a pretty sweet oyster bar that I intend to check out.

The Prado
Three-course prix-fix. The menu can be found on the link I provided. I have very fond memories of this place tied to my years as an undergraduate, so I always consider it as a restaurant for any event. Good place for lunch too if you have a date in Balboa Park ;D.

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine
Three courses. Menu on the link. Again with the seafood and oysters! Cpt. Jack had a pretty good experience here as I recall. Now to decide: Ahi duo vs. pan seared scallops (same item as from Jack's post) vs. the lobster crusted seabass. Damn I hate choosing.

If they are open for dinner, then it is for sure another contender. Charlie has had some really great things to say about this restaurant.

Obviously there are a gazillion more restuarants open for dinner or offering special menus, but to list them all right now would distract me from work. Oh wait...this post already did! I'll try to slap on a few more on here, but so far these are just a small handful of choices running through my head. So hard to decide on one...

As always, I welcome suggestions, opinions, etc.