Everybody who is interested in food in San Diego knows about Market and it is often claimed as one of the best if not the best restaurant in San Diego. Yesterday we finally made it to Market to find out if it is true what we have heard so much about it.
We both choose the tasting menu and tried to cover as many different dishes as possible. (We haven’t made any written notes and so the descriptions are not very detailed about all ingredients.)
The amuse bouche was very nice – a large prawn with some vegetable puree.
As the starters we had the curry squash soup which had unfortunately way too much curry taste which covered everything else. The soup also included a very good crab cake. The second starter was the foie gras tasting with seared foie gras on a blueberry cake which was outstanding and foie gras au torchon which was ok (I still prefer the version at Cavaillon) but not really good which was served on the pistacchio bread which was old, stale and very hard (The guest at the table next to us where also complaining about that).
The fish course was for my wife Halibut with a ravioli (filed with pea puree), homemade sausage and different vegetables. The problem with this dish was that the chef used too much lemon/vinegar in the sauce which made it very sour/bitter. The second fish course was black seabass with a rice cake, braised portbello mushroom and fava beans. The fish and the portobello mushroom were very nice but the fava beans very hard and the rice cake absolutely tasteless.
As the meat courses we choose a lamb dish – rack of lamb and lamb filet. Unfortunately the chef used again way too much vinegar in this sauce which was again very bitter/sour. The second meat course was the braised beef ribs with whipped potatoes, cipollini onions and grilled vegetables. The meat was clearly browned too long (large dark brown/black spots) before it was braised and had a strong burned aftertaste. In addition it could have been braised one/two hours longer.
One dessert was a caramel/peanut butter tasting which contained peanut butter milk shake, ganache cake, and caramel popcorn. All three were ok but at the same time very boring. Nothing what we couldn’t have made easily at home. The second dessert was very disappointing (even though it was highly recommended by our waitress) which was a deep fried tapioca pudding. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear from the menu description that the tapioca pudding was deep fried otherwise we wouldn’t have choosen it. The taste from the deep frying covered everything else.
The evening ended with two sad jokes – the worst cappuchino and espresso we ever experienced in an upscale restaurant. The cappochino was very thin coffee with a little bit of badly made foam and the espresso lacked any crema and taste.
From other reviews we were afraid that the the service would be bad at Market but the service was very good and one of the best we experienced in SD.
So overall Market is definitely a good restaurant and we will also most likely visit it in the future but at the same time it is far from the best restaurant in SD. It is not enough to always claim that all of your vegetable are from Chino Farm and your meat is from Brandt etc. It is more important the kitchen knows hwo to use this ingredients in a clever way to create outstanding and unusual dishes. For a restaurant at this level (and price range) most dishes had surprisingly many flaws in the execution and often the ingredients didn’t really fit together.
There are many restaurants in SD where we had better meals (dinner or lunch) as The Better Half (still for us by far the best restaurant in SD), Arterra, 9-10, Farmhouse Café (we recently visited for the first time and had an outstanding dinner), Cavaillon (the service sucks but the food is outstanding), Café Chloe (their menu is very short and doesn’t change much but every evening they have two specials which show their great creativity and quality of the kitchen again and again).