>> Sunday, December 9, 2012
Price: $10-13 appetizers, $15-20 entrees
Location: 2202 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
The Quick Bit:
+ high quality local food at more reasonable prices
+ good portion size
+ among the best desserts I've had at any restaurant
Δ it was difficult to carry a conversation due to the acoustics
Δ unnaturally dark room
About three years ago, James Beard finalist Chef Carl Shroeder opened Banker's Hill Bar and Restaurant to expand his culinary empire out of Del Mar. The concept of the restaurant was that it should serve as an everyday neighborhood restaurant where people can go to enjoy some drinks and get some good food at affordable prices. I actually visited Banker's Hill about a month into its opening and enjoyed the food, but thought the portions were too small to follow up the "affordable prices."
Within the ensuing three years, Chef Shroeder was a finalist for the James Beard Award and has made some changes as owner of Banker's Hill while still remaining head chef of Market Restaurant and Bar. Chef Ted Smith heads the kitchen of Banker's Hill. Prior to Banker's Hill, Chef Smith served under Chef Shroeder at Market. Meanwhile, at Banker's Hill, Chef Smith has carried out Shroeder's culinary vision.
As Banker's Hill also serves as a local watering hole, it is vital that the drinks are good. The #5 was a spin off of a mojito infused with cucumber. I really enjoyed the freshness from the drink and it served as an excellent palate cleanser in between courses. I did feel that the cocktails were a bit expensive as they seemed to retain the Del Mar pricing.
|coriander spiced albacore tuna tartare - sesame seed crackers, serrano chili vinaigrette, lemon aioli|
The quality of the albacore was top notch, and the quality of the fish really shone through in this dish. The serrano vinaigrette was had a nice touch of heat to really liven the dish. The sesame crackers worked out really well as they contributed a hit of umami to unify the flavors within the dish. While I did enjoy the coriander, I did feel that it was a bit strong for a more delicate fish such as albacore. However, it did not take away from the overall enjoyment of the dish.
|roasted beet salad - citrus vinaigrette, shaved fennel, marcona almonds, caprasan goat cheese|
The beet salad was extremely refreshing and extremely satisfying. The beets were cooked to perfection, while the almonds added a crunch, the goat cheese added a savory flavor, and the fennel brought in much needed freshness. The entire dish was extremely well rounded and enjoyable in every way. While it was "just" a beet salad, this particular salad was executed to perfection.
|bone in pork chop - brussels sprouts, sweet potato, homemade apple sauce, maitake mushrooms|
For the entree, we decided to share the pork chop; we were lucky we made this decision as the chop was enormous. While the pork was cooked a little more than I like (we weren't asked about temperature), it still retained a a nice moisture. The pork itself was really well cooked, and the combination of pork and mushrooms was extremely satisfying as it had a great umami flavor. I also enjoyed the sweet potatoes to go with the pork. Unfortunately, the apple sauce and brussels sprouts did not work as well - the apple sauce was a little too sweet and overwhelmed the pork (this is usually why you need to cook the apples with the pork), while the brussels sprouts were too salty. Fortunately these elements were easy to separate and the dish was saved.
|seasonal fruit crostata - pear crostata, ice cream|
For dessert, we enjoyed the seasonal fruit crostata made of pears. The crostata was baked fresh and was extremely enjoyable. Further, the ice cream was of top quality and the hot and cold contrast of the hot tart to the ice cream made for a satisfying conclusion to the meal. For a mere $7, this dessert was a real home run in price to deliciousness ratio.
Chef Carl Shroeder excels at executing his dishes to perfection. For a neighborhood restaurant such as Market, this is the perfect formula to success. Since my previous visit, the portion sizes have increased dramatically to justify the prices and serve as an every day stop. I was extremely happy with the mostly well-executed food, and would recommend Banker's Hill to anyone looking for a casual low-key, but delicious meal. While the prices are still a bit beyond "every day" they are reasonable for the quality of food that is served.
For executing the vision of the restaurant so well, Banker's Hill Bar and Restaurant gets a megabyte award.