Del Mar Rendezvous – SDRW 2012

ImageDisclosure: Our meal was complimentary, but I was not compensated for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

San Diego Restaurant Week is here, once again. If there was a restaurant you missed the last time, now’s your chance to visit. If there’s a favorite spot you’re looking to score a deal, now’s the time to make your reservation. If you’re a fan of honey walnut shrimp, boy do I have the place for you.

Del Mar Rendezvous invited us to preview their SDRW menu, which is happily full of dishes on their regular menu plus a couple of extras.

Because I wrote about the tasty, tasty food before, I tried to pick out some different dishes to try.

While we both absolutely love the eggplant, I wanted to try the honey glazed spare ribs and the dumpling sampler.  Make sure you ask for fresh ginger and vinegar for the dumplings if it’s not offered! The dumpling sampler comes with vegetable dumplings, shrimp ha gau, and xiao long bao (XLB), those tasty little soup dumplings that are scarfable by the dozen.  The shrimp dumplings were plump and tender, while the vegetable dumpling wrapper had a bit more heft and chew to them. But, my heart (and stomach) belongs to the XLB, dunked in a little sauce, nibbled to let the soup broth out, then eaten with strings of fresh ginger on top. Because I wasn’t as huge a fan of the shrimp or vegetable dumplings, I’d probably order the eggplant for my appetizer and come back for a regular order of the XLB. The ribs weren’t as sweet as I thought they’d be, but they were every bit of fall-off-the-bone tender as I’d hoped.  It’s a meaty appetizer and a good start to the meal.

The honey walnut shrimp (see top of post) and the five spice braised beef are both on the regular menu; the three cup chicken is a special SDRW dish. Normally, I wrinkle my nose at SDRW menus that offer you things you can’t order outside of Restaurant Week, but because everything else on DMR’s menu is fabulous, I wouldn’t feel cheated at all with the regular dishes.  We’ve eaten their honey walnut shrimp before, so I justify this pick by saying I was just testing for consistency and making sure they were still as good as before. They are – piping hot with a crisp batter, just sweet enough sauce, and huge three-bite tender shrimp. At least, it takes me three bites. It might take you two, but definitely not one. The braised beef is a dish perfectly suited for chopsticks since the meat shreds easily at the slightest touch. Meaty, savory, moist, and delightful, it’s a really good dish. Equally delightful was the bok choy that was crisp yet cooked through. Sometimes I end up gnawing my way through bok choy, but not here.  I could eat the honey walnut shrimp all the time, and I’m definitely keeping the beef dish in mind in case I ever find myself wanting something with the substance of short ribs but without the fatty mouthfeel.

The three cup chicken is a dish the chef usually makes just for the staff for family meals, but he was coerced into offering it for Restaurant Week.  It’s made in limited quantities, so if you want to enjoy it (and I think you should), make sure you request it when making your reservations.  If you’re not a fan of eating around bones, you may not love this dish, but you’ll be missing out on some good eating.  The chicken is tender but not falling apart, completely absorbing the sauce and flavors during its cooking stint. And definitely don’t skip the gargantuan cloves of garlic in the bowl. They are magically delicious.

Always save room for dessert. It pleases me to no end that the dessert menu here is worth exploring.  I’ve been wanting to try the banana cheesecake rolls for some time and made Travis order the mango sorbet. Personally, I think they make for a good pairing – the banana cheesecake is light but rich, while the mango sorbet is smooth and refreshing.  The sorbet is like eating a mango… in sorbet form.  And the portion is about the size of a mango, too.  I recommend sampling the sorbet while waiting for the fried cheesecake to cool off a little.  I tried cutting the rolls with the spoon, but eventually gave up and just picked it up with my fingers and nibbled on it.  I’m not sure which method ended up being messier.  I like bananas and I like cheesecake, but I find the rolls aren’t prominently banana-y or cheesecake-y.  They’re not dense like cheesecake, and not heavy on the fruit.  Just enough of both, I guess.  In any case, I’d definitely order them again, hopefully with someone to eat the other piece so I don’t feel so gluttonous. While we’re not a fan of the “whipped topping” that accompanies the desserts, I had no problem finishing off my cheesecake rolls.  And half of Travis’ sorbet.

Many thanks to Dan and Kami for inviting us to dinner.  The food was outstanding as usual!

I have a giveaway for one of you lucky people – a gift card for dinner for two at Del Mar Rendezvous!

If you dine at Del Mar Rendezvous during SDRW, you can contact the restaurant for a $30 voucher to use Uber for a ride to and from dinner.  We were treated to a ride (details to follow) and I can see how it would be quite handy, especially if you take advantage of the wine/beer pairing specials with your SDRW meal.

Also, if you dine during SDRW before 6 pm, you can order the upgraded entrees (rack of lamb or crispy sea bass) for only $6!

Giveaway details: Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’d order with your gift card. Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm Friday, September 7th, 2012.  I’ll pick a random winner and e-mail you to get your mailing address, so make sure you leave a valid e-mail with your comment.

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17 responses to “Del Mar Rendezvous – SDRW 2012

  1. I’m all over that five spice braised beef!

  2. I would upgrade to the rack of lamb tout suite!! Yum!!

  3. I’d love to try the 3 cup chicken :-)

  4. I would get the rack of lamb and fried cheesecake!

  5. I want to try the Eggplant – YUM!

  6. I want the lamb and more walnut shrimp! The ribs are an excellent appetizer too! :)

  7. Rack of lamb! Yum!

  8. spicy eggplant tofu in clay pot–soft, crispy, flavorful–I envision a party in my mouth!

  9. Thanks for the Uber mention! :) We’re excited about partnering with such a fab restaurant for this promotion!

  10. I’d order the three cup chicken. Sounds delicious.

  11. Three cup chicken! It’s hard to find a restaurant that does this dish justice :)

  12. The shrimp in lobster sauce sounds yummy!

  13. The rack of lamb! I love lamb :)

  14. I’d love to try the Honey Walnut Shrimp!

  15. Eggplant and honey walnut shrimp!

  16. I <3 dumplings! I want them!

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