Brooklyn Girl Eatery

>> Thursday, June 28, 2012

Date of Dining: 6/16/2012
Price: $7-12 appetizers, $15-25 entrees
Location: 4033 Goldfinch St, San Diego, CA, 92103

The Quick Bit:

+ great variety of dishes
+ great wine alcohol selection of cocktails and wines
+ great interior space
Δ tables were very small and felt cramped
Δ dish seasonings could be more attentive

Since opening about a month ago, Brooklyn Girl has been one of San Diego's most popular restaurants. According to the manager, reservations must be made a week to ten days in advance. Luckily, I was able to squeeze in with a reservation to start off the evening on a Saturday to see what all the hype is about.
Brooklyn Girl is the creation of owners Michael and Victoria McGeath. The McGeaths are veteran San Diego restauranteurs; perhaps they are best known for owning Trattoria Acqua in La Jolla. While their restaurants have mainly been Italian, the McGeaths decided to try a different concept for their newest restaurant. As Victoria was originally from Brooklyn, the restaurant was named after her and the concept was to mimic a comfortable neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn.
To realize their vision, the McGeaths brought on Chef Tyler Thrasher, who previously worked in San Diego restaurants Jsix and Oceannaire Seafood room. Chef Thrasher's vision is to create food typically found in New York City, but to only use sustainable local products to realize the vision. While this is not possible in the beginning, Chef Thrasher hopes to use all local products to create his menu.

The Food

popcorn - sweet chili
All meals start with complimentary popcorn instead of bread. The popcorn was great when it was freshly made, but it got stale relatively quickly. Still, the popcorn was a tasty treat and the chili had the perfect balance in sweet and spice.
on board - (left to right) point reye blue cheese, saint angel cheese, duck prosciutto, soppressata, chorizo
After hearing that all the cured meats were done on premises, I decided I had to try out some of the selections. The selection of cheeses was nice in that there was versatility to the choices. I personally enjoyed the saint angel. The duck prosciutto was great and a complimentary addition - it was full of rich duck flavor. While I wanted to like the soppressata, the cut diameter and slicing width was too small to really derive any flavor. The chorizo was a big hit as it contained big bold flavors backed up with aggressive chorizo spices - easily the favorite of the table. The only downside to the board was that the flatbreads that came with the board seemed either too stale or just were too difficult to eat.


gnocchi and short rib - yukon potato, oven dried tomatoes, beech mushroom, chianti au jus, pecorino gremolatta
The gnocchi was recommended to our table as one of the restaurant's signature dishes. The short rib was braised to be perfectly tender and a knife was not even needed to cut it. Unfortunately, the gnocchi seemed somewhat overcooked and the combination of the pecorino and salt cause the dish to be overseasoned.
fijiian ono - white bean cassoulet
This dish was one of the specials of the evening. The ono was cooked perfectly and the cassoulet was perfectly al dente. The peaches added a nice sweetness ot the dish that didn't overpower the rest of the dish. Overall, this dish was very well-balanced.
14oz brined duroc pork chop - crispy brussel sprouts, hot mustard oil, sweet soy
This was my favorite entree of the evening. The shallot and brussel sprout bed was cooked to perfection and the flavors complemented the pork very well. While the pork was tender and juicy, it did have a crust of salt;  coupled with the soy reduction and the dish seemed overseasoned. However, I still felt that this dish was the most balanced dish of the evening.


bourbon bread pudding - bourbon reduction
This was my favorite dish of the evening. The bread pudding was very warm and really captured the essence of the bourbon. The dish was not overly sweet and it was the perfect way to end the meal.
strawberry rhubarb crisp - rolled oats, ginger gelato
The rhubarb crisp was also excellent and the only downside to the dish was that it was overshadowed by the bread pudding. There was a large amount of rhubarb so the dish was not overly sweet, which gave it a good amount of complexity. If I had a minor complaint, it's that the ginger gelato was lost against the balance of the strawberry and rhubarb.


As Brooklyn Girl is still a new restaurant, I am willing to cut the restaurant some slack as it finds its stride. The variety of dishes on the menu were very interesting and there were some great flavor combinations. Additionally, the desserts were enjoyable and the restaurant has a great cocktail and wine list. If that wasn't enough, the restaurant also has coffee pour-overs. With all of these things going for the restaurant, I can't wait to see how this exciting new restaurant develops over the coming months.
I tried to bring in a bottle of Curran Grenache Blanc and was surprised to find the wine on the wine list. Looking at the rest of the list, there really was a great selection of wines and they were not overpriced. As such, Brooklyn Girl receives the oeno-byte award.


Launch of Guides

>> Sunday, June 24, 2012

Instead of a new feature this week, I decided to begin launching one of the promised new features from earlier this year. While I do my best to cover restaurants for the blog, there are hundreds of restaurants and I'm unable to cover them with any reasonable speed at the pace of 2 posts per week, especially if some of those posts digress.
However, I do have knowledge of many San Diego restaurants either from going to them without the camera, going to them before I started blogging, or just hearing about them from trusted colleagues. Thus, I have decided to debut the new guides feature.
The first guide is a large overall guide to San Diego where I try to make a quick hit of the bests of lists.
My next guide (expect it this week) will be a list of restaurants to visit when visiting a convention.
I will create more guides over time and I hope you all enjoy them. As always, comments are appreciated.

You can find the guides by the new menu option up top. You can also follow this link.


Ariccia Italian Market

>> Thursday, June 21, 2012

Date of Opening: 6/15/2012
Price: $9 per panini
Location: 7441a Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037

The Quick Bit

+ high quality product selection
+ extensive selection of hard to find rare ingredients
+ high quality imported goods
+ friendly service
+ fresh made flavored pasta
Δ customers may not realize the quality of product they are purchasing
Δ could be greater number of items on sale

I've covered Ariccia Italian Market in the past, but last week marked the soft opening of the market. It is to be followed up with a Grand Opening in the coming weeks, but the market is off to a nice start as they try to figure things out and get things going.
I first attended a pre-opening party where many of the products sold were on display for sampling and then followed up by visiting on the actual opening day where I tried a famous porchetta panini and bought some fresh made pasta.

Pre-Opening Party

The porchetta was available for sampling. The crispy skin was a very nice contrast to the moist flavorful pork center. Ariccia is named after the city that produces porchetta in Italy, so it is only fitting that they serve a great porchetta.
jamon iberico
This was actually the first time I've had iberico directly off the leg. It had a very nice and deep flavor that contained a lot of umami along with rich pork flavor.
selection of cheeses
left to right - candied hazelnuts, candied walnuts, valencia almonds
I really enjoyed the nut selection. Aside from the large ticket meat items, the almonds were perhaps my favorite item available for sampling.
duck salami
duck prosciutto
berkshire pork sopressata
venison and berkshire pork salami
black truffle and berkshire pork salami
berkshire pork salami
The selection of salumi was a very nice spread. My favorite of the bunch was the duck prosciutto, but the black truffle berkshire pork salami was a close second. The duck prosciutto contained a real depth of duck flavor and the fat from the duck really enhanced the flavors of the meat.
foie gras torchon
With such a large stock of foie gras, it appears that Ariccia will be selling the product right up until the impending ban. The quality of the torchon was very nice as there was a nice crunchy crust to the outside.

Products at Ariccia

I took the opportunity to snap ome shots of the products I found more interesting at a quick glance
fresh pasta
Of course there were some fresh pastas on sale including the beer pretzel pasta that I sampled earlier.
I ended up taking some of the squid ink pasta home and creating my own dish with it:
I used a preparation with only a light sauce so that the flavor of the squid ink would come through. I succeeded in my preparation and I was extremely happy with the pasta. I definitely recommend the flavored fresh pastas. And don't be afraid to ask for recipe recommendations using the pastas as the owners are well versed in several tasty preparations of the product.
preserved seafood
In Spain, the preserved seafood actually sells for more than fresh seafood. The preservation process is of high quality and the process of preserving the seafood actually marinates the flavors and allows them to shine even more. I was excited to see that Ariccia was carrying some of this product.


porchetta panini - ciabatta, grilled onions, arugula, porchetta
The porchetta panini was a simple preparation of fresh ingredients. The flavors really came through and the sandwich was extremely enjoyable. Further - the size of the sandwich was enormous and I was more than full after just eating the sandwich.


Ariccia Italian Market is off to a great start - carrying a large selection of high quality gourmet ingredients. Even more, it is a great place to stop by for a panini during lunch or pastry and coffee in the mornings. I really look forward to seeing how the store evolves over time and will be making several visits myself for all those special dinners.


Wich Addiction Breakfast - Flash

>> Sunday, June 17, 2012

Date of Dining: 6/15/2012 
Price: $6-9 per dish
Location: 6625 Flanders Dr Suite B, San Diego, CA 92126

The Quick Bit:

+ now serving breakfast (all day)
+ free delivery
+ sausages made in house
Δ breakfast service could be faster

Since the last time I covered Wich Addiction, they have gone through a number of menu changes. The most noticeable menu addition has to be an entire breakfast menu available all day.
The primary menu attractions seem to be a number of hashes and a number of benedicts based around different proteins. While all the breakfast options were available with free delivery, I decided to stop by to check out the new menu.

The Food:

charred jalapeno and pepper jack benedict with house sausage
The eggs were poached perfectly, but the real surprise was how well composed the dish was. The sausage was made in house and contained some caramelized maple flavor to give it a nice sweet finish. To contrast that sweetness, the grilled jalapeno I received contained a real kick in spice. The combination of sweet and spicy with the homemade hollandaise to tie the entire dish together was a huge winner.
The side of potatoes was a good breakfast potato side as well. The potatoes were well-seasoned and well cooked. The perfect complement to the hearty proteins.


With coffee from Cafe Virtuoso, pastries from Bread and Cie, and their own selection of house-made breakfast, Wich Addiction is a great stop for breakfast on weekdays or brunch on weekends.


Jake's Del Mar - Happy Hour

>> Thursday, June 14, 2012

Date of Dining: 5/18/2012
Price: $6-11 happy hour
Location: 1660 Coast Ave, Del Mar, CA 92014

The Quick Bit:

+ great coastal view
+ discounted happy hour food
+ fast friendly service
Δ cooking temperatures could have been more accurate
Δ drinks could have been discounted

Jake's Del Mar is one of those restaurants that gets mentioned when people want to dine at a place with a great Ocean View. Generally, this means that the money you pay goes more into the rent than the food so the quality suffers. It also generally means you're paying a lot more than usual.
Enter happy hour - with discounted food at happy hour, Jake's becomes an affordable option for dining with a great atmosphere. "Bistro" dishes are discounted 40-50% and range from $6-$11. I decided to check out this happy hour option.


ahi poke rolls - chili and soy dipping sauce
This one the one item we ordered that wasn't on the bistro menu. I imagined getting a roll that was more like a spring roll filled with the freshest and most succulent raw hawaiian poke. The photo speaks for itself as to what the result was.
grilled prawns - basil, prosciutto wrapped, melon vinaigrette
This was my favorite dish of the evening. The prosciutto wrapped prawns were cooked well and the crunch and saltiness of the prosciutto highlighted the prawns. On top of it, the melon salad was very refreshing as was the sauce.
layered seafood cocktail - shrimp, lobster, avocado, orange chili sauce
While I enoyed the seafood in the cocktail, the entire dish was missing a glue element to bring it together. The orange chili sauce really didn't work for me as it drowned out all the great flavors of the cocktail.
carlsbad mussels - coconut lime broth, tomato, cilantro, seabeans
The mussels were well cooked and flavorful. I really enjoyed the mussels and there were a great addition to the happy hour.
crispy calamari - macadamia nut crusted, sweet and sour glaze
Surprisingly, this dish really worked for me and was my second favorite of the night. The calamari was cooked to be perfectly tender and the macadmia nut in the crust came through to add a rich nuttiness. While I usually hate sweet and sour sauces, this one (used sparingly) seemed to provide that tiny bit of counterpoint to the fried crust.
jake's bistro burger - grilled onions and tillamook cheddar
To finish off, there was the standard burger. To their credit, I ordered medium rare and got a medium rare burger. The fries were fried well and were very crisp. Overall, I thought it was a great value for a $6 burger.


Jake's is not going to be winning a michelin star anytime soon. That said, Jake's does not set out to accomplish culinary perfection; ultimately this lack of pretentiousness works heavily in their favor.  What Jake's offers is american food with a Hawaiian twist with a drop dead gorgeous ocean view. 
Taken at happy hour pricing, this entire experience comes at an affordable price with a few nice dishes. Overall, it was a great way to spend an early Friday evening, and I encourage others to stop by as well.


Evolve - Explore Your Senses

>> Sunday, June 10, 2012

Date of Dining: 6/2/2012
Price: $79 for 8 course tasting
Location: 9340 Dowdy Dr, Suite 102, San Diego, CA 92126

The Quick Bit

+ very fun dinner
+ great innovative tasting combinations
+ exciting atmosphere and ambiance
+ well thought-out menu
+ foie gras protestors
+ no corkage fee
Δ foie gras protest

Before we begin, I figure I will explain the absence. Unfortunately, right after the previous post, my computer decided to get sick and ultimately die. Being a resourceful tech person, I attempted to rebuild my computer myself, but received some defective parts the first time through. Subsequently, when I re-installed all of my applications, I had some difficulty with syncing all of photos. Hopefully all the issues are resolved and we can get back to regular blog updates.
I've previously covered Evolve Cuisine Forward twice in this blog. While I had been hoping for more dinners, all good things come to an end, and this dinner was announced as the last for some time. The reason was that Chef Daniel Barron has some personal obligations to handle and would not be free to explore this culinary artistry for the foreseeable future.
However for the final Evolve dinner, Chefs Barron and Bonilla along with Mixologist Mike Yen decided to go for broke and finish with a big bang. The premise of this dinner was an "explore your senses" event. While we have five senses, we usually dine primarily with just the taste and sight senses. I've mentioned several times in my blog that when dishes incorporate smell, I usually come away impressed. While some experiences go dor sense deprivation (see Opaque), Chef Barron decided that he would create dishes that highlight each sense for this dinner.

Molecular Cocktails

I've been extremely impressed with the creations of Mixologist Mike Yen, and I was really looking forward to what he would have ready for this experience.
fig allagash - tequilla, clove, orange lemon foam, lemon juice
The flavors of the clove and citrus really came through in this beer cocktail. I really enjoyed the refreshing quality of the drink as it got me prepared for the small bites to precede the meal.
rapsberry cosmo - stoli rapsberry, white cranberry, gellan, lime, quantro
While I'm probably going to take a lot of heat making this comment, this cocktail was perhaps my favorite cocktail from Mike Yen. First the striking visual quality of the drink set it apart from the others. However, it had a gamut of flavors from sweet to tart to sour to refreshing. The pearls were similar to the tapioca balls, but much easier to chew and much tastier. The drink was a triumph on all levels.

Hors d'oeuvres

Chef Barron announced a voting contest on the hors d'oeuvres; each was prepared by one of his sous chefs.
Sheena Villegas - yellowfin, mustard aioli, yuzu
The yellowfin dish was reminiscent of a crudo. It was aggressively seasoned and contained some edible flowers. The philosophy of the dish seemed to focus on letting the taste of the tuna itself shine through, but to supplement it a little to highlight those flavors. The dish succeeded on those levels.
Tiffany Senin - duck confit ravioli, spicy strawberry sauce
The ravioli was fried to extreme crispness and there was a large crunch as I bit in. The duck confit filling was aggressive and complemented by the sauce. The spicy strawberry sauce had a great balance of sweetness, tartness, and spice.
Alex Emery - roasted duck breast, shiso powder, bing cherry, spicy coconut emulsion
The duck was cooked perfectly on this dish. The inclusion of the cherry, just coming in season was a great touch as well as the sweetness really added to the duck. The shiso powder was a great touch and really glued the dish together as everyone at the table really appreciated it, but was unable to come up with the component right away.

First Course - Smell

crab consomme,  sweet pea, truffle, sprouts
The first course really hit on the smell with the crab consomme. After pouring:
The sweetness of the peas was really top notch as they really contrasted the crab broth. Once poured, the hot consomme really combined with the gelee to give an added aroma of truffle. The crab consomme was prepared beautifully as the smell of the crab really shone. As an added plus, the consomme came out extremely hot, which was really needed to make this dish work.

Second Course - Sight

sculpin, honeysuckle, red chile, garlic chive, asian scallion pesto
For the sight course, Chef Barron chose a fried sculpin filet plated to be visually striking. On the visual appeal, I would say he succeeded. The garlic chive and the scallion pesto really brought out the flavor of the fish. The added spicy kick was reminiscent of the Chef Barron I knew from Blue Point, and it was really appreciated to get that amount of spice in the food. 

Third Course - Sound

pork jowl, lavendar, mustard greens, pop rock mustard, pork tenderloin
The pop rocks in the mustard "sauce" gave this dish the sound aspect as the pop rocks continuously popped throughout the course. The playfulness of the dish really fulfilled the theme.

Fourth Course - Touch

"chicken liver", ahi, pumpernickle, peach
Note: While I'm not an expert from just pure taste, I'd wager the chicken liver was not really chicken liver
 In this dish, the "chicken liver" that resembled the more classic torchon preparation was actually a panna cotta. There was also an accompanying "chicken liver" cookie. This dish was the touch course because the "chicken liver" was supposed to touch our hearts.
The highlight of the dish was the panna cotta; it really carried through a nice pure flavor while having the expected texture of the panna cotta. While the ahi was remarkably fresh to the point I thought it was going to jump off the plate, I didn't understand how the freshness of the ahi was supposed to go with the richness of the chicken liver.

Fifth Course - Cocktail

acid rain - cotton candy, vodka, cardamom, lemon, lemon bitters, lemongrass straw
The fifth course was another creation from Mixologist Mike Yen. In this course, we got more to "play" by pouring the cocktail over a dried ice drink.
the rocks were actual rocks
The cocktail had a nice lemony sweetness and was an excellent palate cleanser. Not only was the drink a palate cleanser, but the smell from the dry ice effect served as a sinus cleanser as well. The drink was very fun.

Sixth Course - Taste

beef cheek, uni, fiddleheads, pumpernickel hominy nitrogen grits
This was my favorite course of the evening. The uni was used with a mix of eel bones, sugar, and other ingredients to create a very rich sauce. The effect of pouring the sauce over the grits was an extremely decadent surf and turf. The beef was cooked perfectly tender and contained a great deal of grass fed beef flavor. While the protein was excellent, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the grits. Make by freezing hominy and pumpernickle and then grinding it down, the grits were very creamy and served as the perfect bed for the beef and sauce.

Seventh Course - Sensory Overload

As all the senses had been used, Chef Barron prepared a final dish that was supposed to bring all of the senses together.
duck confit, spot prawn, blackberry, horseradish, charcuterie sausages, blackberry
The duck confit was stuffed into the prawn:
The dish was suspended over some liquid to create some additional smells
This dish brought together many of the elements of the all the previous dish in one grand finale. There was a lot going on in this dish - the surf and turf theme was revisited, every part of the duck was utilized in the dish, there were smells coming from under the dish. As the dish set out to overload the senses, it really did succeed in that regard. I was extremely happy to get a dish like this to finish out the meal - as the final Evolve dish from Chef Barron.

Eighth Course - Dessert

To round out the meal, Chef Bonilla took over
watermelon, proscuitto, basil, love & break dancing - caramelized goat cheese, watermelon semifreddo
olive oil grilled corn cake, candied prosciutto, clarified watermelon fluid gel, whipped cream
While my senses had been overloaded from the previous course, I still had some space to finish out dessert, especially from Chef Bonilla. As with the trend of Evolve, Chef Bonillas desserts just keep betting better. He didn't disappoint with this one. While the biggest star was the corn cake, the candied prosciutto really brought this dish to another level. The savory, yet sweet element of the pork really contrasted well with the sweetness of the semifreddo and the denseness of the corn cake. Every element on this plate was extremely tasty and made the dish better.


I'm very sorry that Evolve is finished for the next few months. While they started at a high level, each successive event and crescendoed even higher. Now at the coda, the Explore Your Senses Event was not only the tastiest event, it was also the most fun event and experience.
I wish Chef Barron well on his next venture and hope he will still be able to bring is culinary creativity to the restaurant.
I plan to visit Chef Bonilla and Mike Yen for some future meal.
Until the next Evolve event....
Oh yeah, Evolve gets the (long overdue) gigabyte award.


About This Blog

gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
None of the reviews are meant to dissuade you from trying anything by yourself, but simply to provide information for you to make a more informed choice.
If any special treatment is provided to the blogger, full disclosure is presented at the beginning of the post.

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