>> Sunday, July 29, 2012
Price: $5-12 appetizers, $18-25 entrees
Location: 3382 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
The Quick Bit
+ great selection of seafood
+ technical execution of seafood was excellent
+ sustainable seafood sources
+ nice relaxed neighborhood atmosphere
Δ you pay for the bread (but it's Sadie Rose)
While I was digging through some of the old photos I haven't written a story about, I noticed that I left out my visit to Sea Rocket Bistro. This should be considered a capital offense on my part (or maybe it's calculated since it won't be as crowded).
While many who visit San Diego seem to think it should be a great destination to eat seafood, the quality of the seafood restaurant usually doesn't live up to expectations. Sea Rocket Bistro sets out to buck that trend by providing well prepared and unpretentious seafood dishes - it's the equivalent of the farm to table concept except for seafood. The seafood is sourced locally and comes from sustainable sources.
Sea Rocket Bistro is headed by Chef Tommy Fraioli, who previously worked at Bing Crosby's. However, I was introduced to Sea Rocket by fellow food writer Rodzilla and from my meeting with previous chef (and still part owner) Chad White. While Sea Rocket gained some fame from Chef White's obsession with uni, Chef Fraioli has really taken the concept to heart and raised the execution to a higher level.
Sea Rocket has a daily happy hour and special events on certain nights. We were able to catch the tail end of happy hour prior to the meal.
|country bread - Sadie Rose country bread with ramp butter|
One important note is that in order to get bread at Sea Rocket, it has to be ordered separately. While this keeps costs down, it may come as a shock to others.
While Bread and Cie gets all the publicity, I've secretly come to enjoy the breads from Sadie Rose, so I was happy to find that the bread served at Sea Rocket was Sadie Rose. At least for the money, I knew I was getting a great bread.
As one of the more publicized dishes at Sea Rocket, I knew I had to try this. This ended up being a nice amuse as the uni was very fresh and had a great flavor. The bubbly soda water brought out some of the flavors and lended some acidity to smooth out the dish.
|fish tacos - yellowtail, mackerel|
This was my least favorite dish of the evening. The skin of the mackerel was charred to the point where it overwhelmed the flavor of the fish, and I don't think the tortillas were warmed before plating. While the slightly spicy sauce was nice, it didn't really go well with the otherwise raw cabbage.
|local oysters - carlsbad luna oysters, citrus honey mignonette|
The Luna oysters from Carlsbad Aqua Farms speak for themselves in terms of quality and value. We are truly blessed to have some of the best oysters in the world available locally to us. The no fuss mignonette was a nice way to highlight the quality of the Luna's without overwhelming their flavor
|local steamers - clams, mussels, white wine|
I thought the plating of this dish was a little weird with the bread laid around the plate, but since bread doesn't normally come with the dishes, it does make some sense. The clams and mussels were cooked perfectly and really allowed to shine.
|pan seared corvina - bok choy, mushrooms, mustard|
This was the best dish of the night. The corvina was cooked to perfection with a crispy skin, but a moist and tasty meat. The accompanying veggies really emphasized the meaty flavor of the fish. The mustard was a bit unnecessary, but it was nice to have for some variety. Overall, I was very impressed with the technical execution of this dish as well as the flavor combinations. Sometimes something prepared simply is the best way to enjoy it.
|uni ice cream - shiso leaf|
No visit to Sea Rocket is complete without the uni ice cream. We were instructed to use the shiso leaf along with the ice cream, but I found that I enjoyed the ice cream fine on its own. For all the hoopla, this really worked as a person who enjoys uni. However, if someone is not really a lover of uni, it will probably seem strange (similar to a bacon ice cream). The best way I can describe the flavor is that it is the sweetness of the uni flavor with a tiny bit of the bitterness. It is also not super sweet, so it wouldn't function in that capacity of a traditional dessert.
With a constantly changing seasonal menu and well executed technical cooking, I was very impressed with my visit to Sea Rocket Bistro. When people ask me for a seafood recommendation in San Diego (not sushi), my only recommendation will be for Sea Rocket Bistro. This is truly the one seafood destination in San Diego worth mentioning.
For the great menu selection, technical execution, and simple preparations that allow the flavor of the seafood to shine, I award Sea Rocket Bistro the gigabyte award!