Restaurants & Bars 3

Parallel 33 - A First-Timer's Report (long...)

Beth - The Zen Foodist | Sep 19, 200511:46 AM

After lurking on this site for months and hearing countless great things about Parallel 33, I finally enjoyed an evening there on Friday. In case you're interested, here's my full report:

With our stomachs properly empty and eager, my husband Daniel and I arrived at Parallel 33 in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood promptly at 8:30 on Friday night.

At the Bar

While we waited for what the maitres d’ assured us would be a prime table, Daniel and I tried two unique and delicious drinks in the bar. He got a Pomegranate Martini also known as a “Tears of a Prophet.” The cocktail was a beautifully deep rose color with just the right amount of sweetness - similar to a Cosmopolitan but better.

I savored a “Golden Buddha” which consisted of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Ginger Beer with crystallized lemon rind pieces as a garnish. Since Daniel and I are seasoned drinkers, it’s hard to find a drink that’s truly unique to us. But these two cocktails were definitely new to our palettes, and so our visit to Parallel 33 was off to a promising start.

In the Booth

Although the wait in the bar was quite a bit longer than the “3 minutes” we were told when we walked in, the fantastically cozy booth was worth it. Daniel and I felt like we were in our own little Moroccan-Japanese-Indian fusion world!

The menu traumatized me. Everything sounded like a “must-have” and yet we had to remain practical. After all, there’s only so much room in our stomachs. Although Daniel wanted to try their Crispy Curry Calamari with Asian Slaw, Yuzu Dressing, and Minted Mango Salsa, he chivalrously acceded to my choices, which were:


House made Warm Flat Bread with Three -Region Dipping Sauces – Daniel liked the Eggplant & Garlic Hummus best, while I obsessed over the other two sauces: Red Pepper/Mango and Kalamata Olive.

Amiko’s Ahi Poke with Asian Pear and Mango, Spicy Wasabi Dressing – Thanks for the recommendation, Candice! The Ahi Poke held together a wealth of fresh flavors and fascinating textures, shaped into a cube and served on a crispy cracker. It made me feel badly for people who refuse to eat raw fish. Oh well – more for the rest of us, right?

Off the Vine

Since Daniel knows more about wine than I do, he chose what we would drink with our entrees – lamb for him and fish for me (more on those in a moment!). For me, he selected a 2003 Monticello Chardonnay. For himself, he decided upon a 1999 Schweiger Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were perfect accompaniments for the meal to come…

The Main Dishes Were “Insane”

After wavering between the Udon Noodles with Spinach, Eggplant, Kalamata Olives, Oven Dried Tomatoes, Feta Cheese and the Baquetta Seabass on Roasted Vegetable Couscous, Japanese Eggplant And Charmoula, I finally decided on the fish special. I don’t know the official name because it’s wasn’t on the menu, but I would call it Locally Caught Rock Fish Served on Green Tea Udon Noodles with Sweet Corn and Many Other Vegetables. I’d never had Rock Fish before. Daniel declared it some of the best fish he’s ever eaten. He’s right – the fish was outstanding, beautifully presented with a radicchio garnish and plenty of corn, carrots, slivered red bell peppers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and a fairly spicy red sauce that was a little too fiery for my admittedly wimpy tongue.

Daniel chose very wisely, indeed, with the help of KirkK’s glowing recommendation. He chose the Persian Style Lamb Shank, Basmati Rice with Dill, Fava Beans, Carrots. I hardly ever eat lamb, but I was thoroughly enchanted by this dish. It was one of the tastier things I can ever remember eating, with the lamb served on a Moroccan-inspired bed of couscous and potatoes with figs, pine nuts, fava beans, carrots, and hints of Indian spices. The lamb was tender and irresistible – more than once I had to ask for a deposit onto my bread plate from Daniel’s plate. Despite our best efforts to consume every last crumb, we left with a happy little doggy bag of leftovers that survived well into Sunday.

We Couldn’t Skip Dessert

While Daniel and I almost always opt for dark chocolate confections, we forced ourselves to eat outside of the box and get Madeleines of Medjool Date Cake with Vanilla Rose Gelato. I’m so glad we did. The ice cream was the perfect garden-fresh accompaniment to the delectable little date cakes. I even ate some of the precious little rose petal garnish decorating the plate.

I Just Realized… Fusion Is My Thing

As much as I love traditional cuisines or a classic American steakhouse, our most memorable meals have been at the hands of chefs who presented us with tastes we never even contemplated before. In San Diego, that might mean meals at El Agave or Indigo Grill. On the road, it’s definitely Nobu in Tokyo or Las Vegas, or Mesa Grill in New York City. I’m so glad to have another phenomenally innovative restaurant right here in town that can blow our minds and our taste buds every so often.

Thanks again for raving about this place so that I felt compelled to try it!

Link: http://www.zenfoodism.com/

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