San Diego Restaurant Week is coming up again (September 20-27, 2015) and in preparation, we were invited to the SDRW Launch Party hosted at Go Green Agriculture in Encinitas. Wineries, breweries, and (let’s be honest, what I was really interested in) participating restaurants would be offering up sips and bites.
It was pretty warm that day, even up in Encinitas, and the humidity was causing me to melt into a puddle, so we didn’t linger too much. We hunkered down under a patio umbrella and alternated walking around to gather samples for tasting.
Clockwise from top left: ahi tuna crudo from Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, ahi tartate from… somewhere?, gazpacho from Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, and more tuna tartate from Stake Chophouse
The crudo from Tom Ham’s Lighthouse was paired with some grapefruit and an olive-y paste (you can see the tiny dollop in the corner) and made for a refreshing first bite. I admit I haven’t been in love with Tom Ham’s, but now that they’ve renovated and revamped the menu, I’m tempted to check it out.
There was a lot of fish right when you walked in, which I’m okay with, but now I see that I essentially ate tuna, tuna, and more tuna, albeit in various forms with very different flavors. The gazpacho was cool and not too spicy, and you have to love the presentation of the crostini with gorgeous veggies on top.
Clockwise from top left: a farro salad from Solare, heirloom tomatoes and corn from Croce’s, compressed watermelon and pork belly from Parq, and sous vide flat iron steak from The Patio.
T really enjoyed the farro salad, but I wanted a little less grain and little more salt? The tomato, corn and cucumber salad was a nice veggie dish… I should have tossed it together with the farro salad!
I had no issues eating Parq’s watermelon and pork belly again! This time, the pork belly was thicker and meatier, but so tender. With the heat we were sitting in, I could have eaten a mountain of that watermelon, too.
While I appreciated the meat offering from The Patio, my piece of the flat iron steak was pretty chewy. The flavors were great, but I would have liked either smaller pieces or a thinner slice so I didn’t have to work so hard to get it down.
Clockwise from top left: cold pepper soup from Sbicca, pork sopes from D Bar, porchetta with avocado and taco sauce from Double Standard, and Park Hyatt Aviara’s fig cake with peanut butter and jam and a s’mores tart
While the pepper soup was also cool and refreshing, I preferred the gazpacho. The pork in the sopes was delicious – not dry or stringy, and not mushy – but I felt the sopes itself was a little too doughy. I only ate the porchetta from Double Standard, as the bread was really thick and too chewy. The porchetta was good, it just suffered from the unfortunately grey-colored foam on top. I think the foam was where the “taco sauce” flavor came from (which was spot on, by the way) so if you just didn’t look at it, you were fine.
Finally, I really love when someone does a dessert offering at these events. The s’mores tart was perfectly warm, chocolatey, and sweet (not too sweet!) and the fig cake with peanut butter frosting and (I think) strawberry jam at the bottom was really, really good. If I hadn’t been so hot and lazy, I probably would have gotten another one.
Because I was literally dripping, I was in no mood to drink wine or alcohol, although I did have a teeny tiny sip of some vodka. On a cooler day, I probably could have put up with a little boozing. There were plenty of water bottles in ice buckets set up, which was greatly appreciated, both for the hydration aspect and so I could go dunk my hands in a bucket of ice water periodically.
Now that I’m sitting in an air-conditioned room (whew! don’t ask me how much our SDG&E bill was last month!) I’m more appreciative of the bites we enjoyed and I think SD Restaurant Week will have some delicious menus to offer everyone.
Disclosure: I was invited to the SDRW Launch Party, but received no compensation for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.