Restaurants & Bars

Excellent Four-Course Dinner at Market

nosh | Jan 21, 200803:26 PM

Really enjoyed Friday night's meal at Market, which is in North County in that Del Mar-Encinitas-SD intersection about a mile or so inland from the 5 on Via De La Valle where El Camino Real takes a jog. It took over the old Prime 10 where we had a hilariously memorable meal for all the wrong reasons a few years ago.

Carl Schroeder, the chef and proprietor most recently at Arterra, offers a seasonal menu featuring a "tasting menu" at $68 for four courses with an amuse and an additional $39 for wine pairings. It is much more of a prix fixe with two and sometimes three choices per course (with some supplemental charges) than a tasting menu. While it provides an excuse to sample an extra entree and order individual desserts, it is not a discount and when I return, I'd rather order an additional starter to share instead.

The first course, as so often happens, was the standout. I had the hot and sour mushroom soup, which surprised me. It was a clear dark vegie mushroom stock, ladled very sparingly over some al dente mushrooms with some tofu squares and a couple of shrimp. Delicious. Earthy, piquant, texturally interesting. Wow. I also loved my bite of my dad's local grapefruit and goat cheese salad -- this grapefruit was so sweet and juicy it almost hid any tartness. Great sourcing.

The next course was good but the one I could have jettisoned. I had the cajun spiced local grouper, over a sort of jambalaya. Tasty and well-executed, it was tasty and interesting but didn't blow me away. The alternative, a striped bass over a forest mushroom ravioli, was rated better by my dining companions but I thought the ravioli pasta was tough.

My main selection of braised shortribs was superb -- rich, tender, attractively presented on a long rectagular plate, two shortrib chunks on potato-onion puree with a tender, savory cipollini onion in between. Really delicious. The alternative was a bison fillet paired with a bacon-wrapped "meatloaf" that I considered (love anything meatloaf) but after sampling I was even happier with my choice.

The dessert was extraordinary. A small meyer lemon tart with huckleberry topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut, with a buttermilk sorbet to the side. Perfectly executed tart shell -- delicate, a bit crisp, light, beautiful with the light lemon curd and huckleberry filling and sauce and light topping... just the light, tart, cold, refreshing finish I needed and wanted after I was so satiated by the richness of the shortribs... Very pretty too, with a spun sugar spiral... I inquired and there is an exec dessert chef somewhere planning these items, but Rachel Going, who is the assistant pastry chef actually producing this, she's got wonderful talent and skill.

Enjoyed the evening. Good service from our waiter, Chris, and a number of supporting players. As we were leaving, I noticed that the bar seems to have a separate sushi chef, as well as some sports on TVs that you have no hint of within the main restaurant.

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