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