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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Roger Gets Published

Nothing too fancy, but Desserts Magazine featured my photos in their fourth issue. Check it out here.

Neat-o! I wish people would hire me to take food photos. Hell I'd do it for free as long as they pay for the food...

Punjabi Tandoor

Yeah I know. It's been awhile since I posted something or browsed around other SD food blogs. And no the economy ain't affecting how much money I allocate to eating out. There's just too much on my plate right now. (Ha? I think I just made a funny!)

Really, though. Big life/career decisions coming up for me. Yeah okay none of you care about that. Let's see what I've been eatin':

There's an Indian take-out place called Punjabi Tandoor in Mira Mesa that's been on my To-Dine list for about a year so. I've consulted a few Indian friends about the authenticity/taste of the food, and they gave me the thumbs up.

First visit there, I went with the Combo-for-Two ($21.95), which really oughta be renamed Combo-for-Three:

Veggie Samosas

Naan (w/ butter)

Half of a Tandoori Chicken

HEAPING mound of rice and two large bowls of meat/veggie curry of your choice

Not pictured: Really good Kheer

Like I said. It was a lot of food. I honestly don't even know where to begin when it comes to describing the various tastes and aromas in Indian cuisine, so I'll just post what most Yelpers post: It was yummy. Actually, "yummy" doesn't even do this place justice. Let's go with "mind-blowing".

Dinner was such a great experience that over the next two weeks I made quite a few revisits for lunch. I did not snap photos of each visit, however. Food doesn't look nice photographed in a to-go box.

Here's one of the many Combos:

Even a big eater like me could not finish it all. $7 buys me both lunch and dinner! Sweet.

The only "bad" thing I can say is that the lamb chunks in the Rogan Josh (and possibly other lamb curries) were a tad tough to chew. I have yet to order lamb a second time, but I'll update this post when I do.

Getting here is quite a drive, and the traffic is g'damn irritating. But trust me. It'll be worth it.

Punjabi Tandoor

9235 Activity Road, Suite 111
San Diego, CA 92126

M-F: Lunch 9:30am-3pm Dinner 5-10pm
Sat: 11am - 10pm
Sun: 5 - 10pm

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Studio Diner: Pigout #2

There are two reasons why I love Studio Diner:
1) The food never disappoints, unless you're fickle like me.

Here's my 3am pigout five hours before I had to submit a paper. I can give Jack Donaghy a run for his money when it comes to stress eating.

Fish 'n Chips
"East coast-style" Icelandic Haddock, beer-battered and deep-fried until golden brown. Served with Studio Fries, cole slaw, tartar sauce & lemon.

Studio Diner's got their batter recipe down. Light with the fragrant aroma of beer, it's even better on their onion rings, which I subbed for the mundane frozen fries that would have otherwise accompanied the huge slab of Haddock. Haddock is a pretty lean fish, a fact that sorta off-sets your possible guilt over ordering a fat/calorie bomb. Mm..well...maybe not.

Pastrami Sandwich: Piled high & served with deli mustard on a roll

Good pastrami, so-so sandwich. Uh..Hey Roger, you idiot. You just contradicted yourself.

Nope. Allow me to explain. The pastrami, though small in portion, was delicious: peppery, juicy, and tender. The roll was a plain ol' hot dog bun. The problems are quite clear, no?

It's a small sandwich.

Samson's Steak Sandwich
Sliced & Marinated Prime Rib, grilled with cheese, spinach, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and onion on a toasted roll.

This...was amazing. The combination of all those flavors, oh-so-tender meat, and gooey cheese gave me a mouthgasm. Here's my O-face: :O I highly recommend this sandwich. Your cardiologist might not, though.

In totally unrelated news, Will of Eclipse Chocolat is having another themed dinner. Check it out.

Studio Diner
4701 Ruffin Rd.
San Diego, CA 92123

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

1500 Ocean

It's been awhile since I've reviewed a renowned fine dining restaurant. The original plan was to visit Market, but it seems that Charlie beat me to the punch. Next up on my To-Dine list was 1500 Ocean, the signature restaurant of Hotel del Coronado.

The staff lineup is impressive. Though Chef Jason Shaeffer is no longer at 1500 Ocean, his replacement Brian Sinnott hails from Molly's right here in San Diego. With over ten years of fine dining experience under his belt, you can bet your ass that Sinnott's able to whip up some great Californian coastal cuisine. But what would a restaurant be without a good manager? Claud Renner was once the General Manager of Il Fornaio! Furthermore, the servers of 1500 Ocean are very knowledgable not only about menu items, but also cooking and the restaurant's history as well.

These aqua-blue leather chairs are the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in.

The cheese-bread is not to be missed. Those little round biscuits are so buttery and cheesy it's hard to stop eating them. I downed a basket and a half of those babies before realizing I had sacrificed stomach space reserved for a third starter I wanted to add to my order.

Amuse Bouche:

First Course:

Hudson Valley foie gras torchon: rhubarb compote, artisan salts, peppercress, dried strawberry, brioche

"The pleasure of eating foie gras is sanguineous and carnal. It's like pornography for the palate, and you feel naughty for loving it."

Couldn't have said it better myself. I've never met a hunk of liver I did not like. Here, three different sea salts sitting in each corner of the foie gras lend their very subtle flavors as you work your way through this starter.

Second Course:

Carlsbad squash blossoms: sheep's milk ricotta-basil filling, mache salad

Lightly battered squash blossoms are stuffed with ricotta + basil bits and fried. The result is a sweet, fragrant sensation in the mouth. It was as if I were tasting the ingredients and smelling the flower at the same time. A solid starter.

Third Course:

Duck confit: black kale, garlic sausage

Muscovy duck confit is a signature creation of Shaeffer's that was so popular it remained on the menu after his departure. It isn't hard to see (taste?) how this dish gained its reputation. Underneath the soft yet crispy skin lies meat so juicy and tender that a gentle nudge with a fork is all that is required to tease the meat off the bones. The flavor is rich and very satisfying; however, I found it too salty for my taste. Underneath the confit is a peppery bed of beans, kale, and two large slices of sausage. Extremely enjoyable.

Fourth Course:

Chocolate blueberry honey slump cake: milk chocolate & blueberry sorbet, blueberry cointreau coulis

My heart skipped a beat when I first saw this on the online menu. A dessert whose description featured four of my favorite things--chocolate, blueberry, honey, and cake--is a default must-order item. Apparently, this creation is in celebration of the hotel's 120th anniversary. I wish someone would create a sugary masterpiece for my birthday...

Sorry Will, but this is probably my favorite dessert of all time. The milk chocolate sorbet was light and as smooth as silk. Delicious, but it was the blueberry sorbet that blew me away. Words can't even begin to describe my childlike glee as I wolfed it down. Then there was the warm cake oozing dark chocolate that surprised my palate with an occasional blueberry hidden inside. As if all this decadance isn't enough, dip a bite of cake into the drizzle of blueberry honey to really light up your
nucleus accumbens.

I was not too enthused about the slab of chocolate-covered blueberries, though. Tastes good, but I personally do not like mixing chocolate with the chewiness found in raisins and dried berries. On my next visit, I'm going to ask if I can substitue this item with a scoop or two of that mouthgasmic blueberry sorbet.

Thank you Lauren (Public Relations Director), Claude, Brian, and the staff of 1500 Ocean for an unforgettable dining experience and accommodating me and my photography equipment. The personalized service and attentiveness I received made me feel like a valued customer as opposed to just another wallet. As I mentioned to Claude, some reputable fine dining establishments have brushed me off and would rather attend to older, more affluent customers. (I'm looking at you, Jack's La Jolla.) I experienced none of that kind of discrimination here. The high level of professionalism found in 1500 Ocean and Hotel del Coronado creates a warm and welcoming environment for patrons to relax and unwind. I expected no less from such a respected luxury resort and will be looking forward to future visits.

1500 Ocean
1500 Orange Ave.
Coronado, CA 92118

Monday, September 29, 2008

World's Best Pizza

There's nothing like hanging out with friends and kicking back with pizza and beer. The typical go-to pizza chains are just a no-go for me. This is where World's Best Pizza steps in. These guys are pretty cocky to call themselves the best, but they are definitely not all talk. World's Best boasts great quality ingredients for their pizzas. Let's take a look:

World's Best's pepperoni stomps on all the pepperoni pizzas I've ever tried. The guys here are extremely generous with toppings and really heap them on. While the picture above looks like nothing but a gooey mess of cheese, you will find that the topping-to-crust ratio is balanced. The pizza is kinda deep and with a moist, chewy crust. None of that stale, dry Papa Johns stuff.

Don't shoot me for bagging on pizza chains. I've just had too many bad experiences with them in college. Example: Finals week. I'm exhausted and hungry. Papa Johns delivers me a pizza with so little sauce, cheese, and toppings that I can see patches of dough.

I'm not a very forgiving guy. :D

Chains have nothing on this:

The Hawaiian tastes better than it looks. You can make this pizza taste even better by sprinkling on some red pepper flakes.

Too bad I can only enjoy World's Best when I visit LA. They oughta open one here in San Diego...

World's Best Pizza
3142 Colima Rd
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

Thursday, September 18, 2008

UCOP Inquiry

It has come to my attention that the University of California Office of the President has been probing this blog for information concerning the BIBC 103 post I made awhile ago. I want to take this opportunity to declare my intent for that post.

I have never posted academic material from BIBC 103 on this blog. What I offered was a chance for undergraduates to learn from my lab-writeup mistakes. I had originally planned on offering my labs in the form of digital media and provide tutoring over phone or instant messaging. However, I ultimately decided that tutoring in-person would be far more effective and rescinded my original offer. Students who wanted help with their first upper division lab were required to contact me for tutoring. The labs have never been available without first meeting me in person.

As many of the academic crowd know, composing a scientific paper for the first few times is a very daunting task for students who do not even know where to begin. Often, they fail miserably. Though no student has contacted me via this blog for help as of this date, I wanted to guide these first-timers through the process because I personally had a tremendously difficult time when I took this course. All UCSD lab write-ups are required to be submitted to Thus, the possibility of plagerism has never been an issue. My goal has always been to help students understand and become familiar with the proper formatting, depth of content, and general content outline required for writing a scientific paper.

The original post I made offering my guidance for BIBC 103 has been taken down for the time being. If the UCOP has any questions or comments whatsoever, feel free to contact me via email. I would like to discuss this matter in the open and be involved in your inquiry as to speed up the process and more importantly, demonstrate that there has been no breach of the UC Academic Honesty Policy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

POMx Iced Coffee

I have no idea how POM got a hold of me, but I replied to their email, filled out a survey and BAM! Now I have four cases of this stuff.

First impression:
The ingredients are good nutritionally, with the exception of added sugar (not high fructose corn syrup). The main ingredient is reduced fat milk, which reflects the seven grams of protein in each 10.5oz (one bottle). In terms of calories, there is only 170kcals. A mere 30kcals more than a cup of reduced fat milk. This is a pretty healthy beverage. Good alternative to a soft drink.

The main selling point of POMx Iced Coffee is POMx, an "ultra-potent, 100% pure polyphenol antioxidant extract." How silly. Eat your fruit and vegetables and you'll have all the antioxidants you need. Advertising to the general (uninformed) public is all too easy.

POMx iced coffee tastes like coffee flavored milk. I'd like more coffee in here, but flavored milk is fine by me. There is 20 grams of sugar in here, but most of it comes from lactose. The drink is only lightly sweetened. Not bad, but if you want coffee, you're better off looking for another brand.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I've had my eye on Bite for a long time now after reading about Chef Walsh's credentials. Tonight I finally made a visit for the Tuesday four course prix fix dinner ($20) to get a feel for Walsh's talent. Rush hour traffic be damned.

Bite's decor is amazing. If I were a real writer I would be able to describe it for you, but alas, I am only proficient in writing biology/medical papers. Ya'll gotta see Bite for yourselves. The dining area is chic and modern without being cold or pretentious like other restaurants. The golden Os splashed across the wall really liven up the place. Lighting is a tad too dark for my taste, though.

Yeah of course I'll complain about lighting. YOU try hand-shooting at ISO800, f/4.5, 0"4. From now on I will lug my tripod into a restaurant for dinner. Inconvenient? Yes. Awkward? Totally. Worth the hassle? Hell yeah. Tonight's epic photo-shoot failure was the last straw.

Alright on to the food.

First Course:

Honestly I don't know what the spread and sauce are made of. But, my tastebuds tell me the amuse bouche tastes like strawberries and cream cheese/chives? Yummers. I could be wrong about the spread, though. Kinda hard to concentrate when I haven't eaten for six hours... Walking around the ICU is pretty taxing.

Champagne happy hour means cocktails for $4.50. Not too shabby!

Second Course:

Chicken liver mousse

Like Cpt. Jack, I go bananas over foie gras. Naturally when I spotted liver on the menu I had to order it. Yeah I know this is a far cry from foie gras, but I take what I can get. But where's the mousse? Oh you'll find it under that thin layer of dark mystery-jelly that tastes kinda like the mousse. Next time I'm gonna ask Walsh what it is. All in all, a good appetizer. However, as with all rich foods, this got old real fast. The acidity of the fruits do offer your palate some relief, but I just couldn't finish all that liver.

Lobster bisque

Okay if any of you see this on the menu, order it. It is rich and velvetly with a delicate sweetness. Great comfort food. How good? Well it could offer me fleeting consolation if I were to ever drop out of medical school. That good.

Puff pastry carmelized onion tart w/ nicoise olives

This was a really delicate, flaky pastry topped with sweet carmelized onions. Kind of a relief after the previous two heavy appetizers. I dig it. I don't dig the clearly evident camera shake though.

Third Course:

Scalloppini of chicken breast picatta with roasted red potatoes

My tastebuds sent me a flash of recognition after tasting the succulent chicken. The chicken tastes exactly like a Chinese rice-noodle dish. If you have ever ordered chow-fun in a Chinese restaurant, you would be familiar with that strangely delicious lightly-burnt taste. Walsh, I don't know how you pulled this off, but I want to shake your hand for making chicken taste like my mother's chow-fun. Very interesting.

Lamb meatballs in a rich & spicy tomato sauce with grilled polenta and arrugula

Walsh left me crying for more after I scarfed down this plate. The meatballs are really satisfiying but the tomato sauce totally steals the show. Lightly spicy with a hint of smokiness, this sauce is simply amazing. I mopped up every bit of sauce with the crispy polenta. Best entree of the night. My only complaint, however, is the fact that there are only four meatballs. C'mon Walsh! Don't tease us like that. This entree is like a crack rock. After it's gone, you just want more and more...

Pot roast

I really should have asked to keep the menu. I forgot what exactly goes into the glaze, but there is red wine involved. Loved it. The glaze is sweet and complex. Complements beef very well. I wish the meat could have been more tender and fatty, but in terms of flavor this dish delivers it well. Not as good as the lamb meatballs+sauce, though. Teehee!

Fourth Course:

Chocolate mousse

Dark, rich chocolate mousse. Good consistency and not too sweet. Dig in deeper and you'll find berries and part of a banana. I approve!

Grand Marnier Gelato

The silver medalist of the night. I can't ID the light citrus flavor...I've tasted it before but the words just aren't comin'. Very refreshing way to end a meal. Best dessert of the bunch, I think.

Berry cobbler a la mode. That means it comes with ice cream!

I love pie. If I ever cheat on my wife it would be with a pie. During holiday seasons I go through three pies a week. No joke. Bite doesn't serve pie, but cobbler's the next best thing. Lots o berries, good crust. Doesn't top the aforementioned gelato though!

All in all, a solid deal for $20. With some minor tweaks, Bite's prix fix menu would be a KILLER deal. I dig Walsh's style and will definitely be checking back with some friends and of course, a tripod.


1417 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103