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Restaurants & Bars

Vive la Tapenade: road trip report

Mr Grub | Apr 9, 200203:15 PM    

The Grubs ventured south from LA to San Diego for some r&r. Experienced powerful good luck in the chow dept. First & foremost, Tapenade (Fay, nr Girard, in La Jolla) continues to be IMHO the singularly best French restaurant in southern California. No kiddin’.

On this nite, the $58 prix fixe included a silky foie gras terrine w fruit chutney, a lobster salad featuring large pieces of the divine crustacean on a bed of crisp winter greens & a “gazpacho” sauce, seared scallops in a fennel & parsley sauce, & rare sliced ribeye in a bordelaise reduction sauce accompanied by pureed squash & polenta sauted in truffle oil.

Other courses: phenomenal seared scallops on roasted corn risotto ($14), robluchon cheese in phyllo packages with a touch of vanilla sauce accompanied by mesclun salad with a caramel/pepper dressing ($10), wild boar ($24) in a burgundy reduction sauce on hand-thrown egg noodles (more a classic boar than Josie’s soaring & gentle Texas boar), chocolate fondant dessert – flourless choc cake with black cherries & vanilla crème anglais topped by rich & creamy pistachio ice cream.

With nice zin, whole meal totalled about $150. Great great – make that great -- value for wonderful meal served with care & knowledge in a comfortable, fairly quiet modern space.

Also dined at Café Pacifica (San Diego Ave, Old Town adjacent). Nicely prepared seafood. La Grubba had grilled sea bass with papaya salsa ($18). Sea bass perfectly done. Salsa a little short in the papaya dept. Mr Grub’s bouillabaisse ($22) also excellent with a little crunchy brown rice added as a pleasant & welcome surprise. Started with splendid Malpeque oysters & champagne.

Breakfasted at 222 Café. A bit of a disappointment. Even tho not crowded on a gloomy day, food was below expectations. Scrapple with sausage polenta not successful at all. Service leisurely, resulting in barely warm food. Fun little spot, but not great.

Lunched at the rough-around-the-edges Waterfront Bar. Terrific hamburger – crunchy outside, red inside – topped with pastrami, also crunchy, & served on a squishy roll with condiments o’plenty. Far superior to, say, the Shack, the Apple Pan & just about every other burger in LA. Mighty fine fish & chips also – nicely seasoned breading. Great cold beer on tap as well. Definitely a keeper.

Last lunch at an Irish bar & grill in Carlsbad, on Grand Avenue. Name escapes me. Again perfectly turned out fish & chips in a light beer batter this time & a passable Reuben sandwich. Langer’s it ain’t. But it made pushing the Grubmobile thru I-5 traffic more bearable.

Thanks, San Diego. Your apparently self-imposed rep as a culinary wasteland is ill-founded. Some great grub is there to be ferreted out.

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