Dishcrawl Carlsbad - Gregorio's, Knockout Burger, Relm, Swirlicious

>> Thursday, June 13, 2013

Date of Dining: 6/12/2013 
Price: $45 per dishcrawl ticket

The Quick Bit:

+ great event to meet fellow foodies
+ vibrant upbeat atmoshphere
Δ Some restaurants could have taken the event more seriously

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free media pass to the dishcrawl event.
I was surprised to receive an invitation to Dishcrawl Carlsbad as I have not been so active in blogging lately, but I was happy to attend the event and brush off my camera lens to take some food photos.
Dishcrawl is an event organized by foodies for other foodies; it occurs throughout many cities in the US and is growing. During a Dishcrawl, participants always pay $45 for a ticket and get to sample dishes from 4 restaurants along the way. During the Dishcrawl, participants also have the opportunity to talk with chefs, owners, or managers of the restaurants in order to gain some additional insight to the restaurant. For restaurants, Dishcrawl is a great way to showcase culinary specialties to those from out of the area while maintaining and strengthening support with loyal local customers.
I was surprised that our event included 29 participants and that restaurants in the Carlsbad Village had agreed to serve the foodies. Participants of the Dishcrawl ranged from cosmopolitan Carlsbad Village locals to wayfaring gastronomes from Hillcrest and Temecula. Overall, the group was vibrant and had a lot of energy. It was great to have the opportunity to chat with many others who were devoted to cooking and eating well-prepared food.

Gregorio's Italian Restaurant

Location: 300 Carlsbad Village Dr, Ste 208

The Dishcrawl started at Gregorio's, a favorite of the locals who have all long visited and developed favorite dishes. Gregorio's prepares a rustic Italian homestyle cuisine that strives to be "your kitchen away from home." Further, Gregorio's donates all profits to charity including the Boys and Girls club four nights a week! These actions of giving back to the community has really resonated well within the community.
shrimp aglio e olio - shrimp, linguini, olive oil, lemon
The shrimp dish was what the restaurant considered its signature dish - it was a healthier take on a shrimp scampi with some additional pasta. The dish contained a healthy amount of garlic that was pervasive throughout the palate. As a minor critique, the dish could have used a little more salt.
eggplant parmigiano - fried eggplant, mozzarella, pasta
The eggplant parmigiana is considered the most popular dish at Gregorio's and it was also my favorite of the trio. I really enjoyed the different layered textures within the dish as well as the rich complexities within the interplay of the eggplant and cheese.
sicilian chicken - chicken, breadcrumbs, fusili, vodka cream sauce
The final dish was the Sicilian chicken, which is another popular dish of the restaurant. The chicken was pounded and deep fried and combined with a fusili made with a vodka cream sauce. I thought that the vodka cream sauce was very well made and served well to cut the richness of the fried chicken. However, I also thought this dish needed some additional seasoning, especially within the breadcrumb batter itself.

Overall, I feel that Gregorio's was a great place for locals to enjoy. While there is nothing fancy about the food, it was still simple food prepared well. It is also amazing that the restaurant can donate profits to charity four days a week.

Knockout Burger

Location: 2971 Carlsbad Blvd

Knockout Burger is a local burger watering hole that is themed around boxing. It's an alternative to In-n-out, but also slightly more expensive.
Knockout Burger was a restaurant that totally didn't take the Dishcrawl seriously and lacked professionalism when dealing with such a crowd. While I can understand that the restaurant happened to get busy prior to our arrival, it still took more than 45 minutes for them to prepare the food for the group. It also seemed unreasonable that they felt all the food needed to be completed at the same time. For a small burger restaurant trying to serve 30 people, they simply should have prepared whatever food they could in whatever time they could and sent it out as it was completed, completely fresh.
Further, the restaurant could have provided some food during the long wait such as fries or free beverages as those are generally low cost items that would not impact sales margins. The way it worked out - the burgers were not completed until after we had already reached the next restaurant and finished the food at that establishment.
The burger seemed to be a frozen patty as it was largely tasteless and lacked any caramelization that is traditionally expected from a burger. Further the lettuce was wilted and the sauce was waterlogged creating a completely washed out flavor. Finally, the meat to bun ratio was completely off as the "flavor" from the processed white breaded bun completely overwhelmed what flavor was left from the patty. To add insult the injury, the fries were chalky lumps of starch that had somehow managed to survive past their intended half-life.
chicken sandwich
The only thing worse than the fries was the chicken sandwich. The chicken was completely dry, and the waterlogged lettuce completely washed out any flavor whatsoever. The only redeeming quality to the chicken was that it was fully cooked so that I know I'm not going to be infected with salmonella.

Overall, the only good quality of knockout burger was it's name; the food knocked me out, and I'm actually surprised I didn't have to visit the hospital. Perhaps I'll need to send them a bill for cleaning out my toilet though. Stick with In-N-Out which is both cheaper and tastier, or better yet visit the gastrobits favorite fast food burger Elevation Burger while in Carlsbad.

Relm Wine.Beer.Bistro

Location: 2917 State St, Carlsbad, CA

The third stop of the Dishcrawl was Relm Wine.Beer.Bistro. I would classify the establishment mostly as an adult lounge as much of the seating is comfortable leather sofas that are spread throughout the room.
Relm's owner Rene Fleming serves as the establishment's curator, sourcing only special boutique wines in the restaurant. These wines are all small production, hard to find wines that have all passed the grade of Mrs Fleming's discerning palate. Most importantly, Relm is an acronym for relax, enjoy, laugh more and epitomizes the experience the Dishcrawl had while at the establishment.
mediterranean salad - strawberries, mixed greens, kalamata olives, cucumber, perponcinis, cherry tomatoes
The salad was a standard salad, but was still put together very well. All the ingredients were fresh and the flavors amalgamated in a satisfying combination even without the dressing.
The hummus was a milder variation of hummus in that it didn't contain a lot of garlic. However, I found this to be good because garlic doesn't really go well with wine.
hot spinach artichoke dip
The dip was hot and went together well with the other elements. It also paired better with wine in comparison to some of the other offerings. I enjoyed that there were actual artichoke hearts within the dip.

Overall, Relm was my favorite stop of the Dishcrawl; the atmosphere was extremely comfortable and relaxed and the service was top notch. When the initial food ran out for the Dishcrawl group, they immediately re-filled all the food; the management was more concerned with satisfying the customer than padding their pocketbooks. I was also happy with the selection of wines at Relm as they truly seemed unique. I would definitely stop by Relm again if I was in the area, but in the meantime, I will hope for an outpost to open closer to where I live.

Swirlicious Frozen Yogurt

Location: 2992 State St, Carlsbad, CA

Swirlicious is a local spin off of the popular frozen yogurt places that have opened all around the country lately. While the owners have modeled the establishment after some of the more Asian yogurt establishments in San Diego, Swirlicious adds its own distinct ideas to the establishment as well.
At Swirilicious, one gets a cup and then fills it with as much yogurt and toppings as they desire. Yogurt flavors change monthly while toppings vary more frequently. From what I noticed, some of the toppings were truly unique; there were juice poppers which are pearl-shaped balls that contain flavored juice and a nice pop when chewed. Adding this topping would create a nice textural contrast against both the yogurt and other more traditional toppings.
swirlicious yogurt
I opted for a healthier yogurt selection as I got mostly the tart yogurt and filled up with fruits and nuts. The yogurt was very well flavored and all the toppings were fresh and added a unique flavor to the entire product.

Swirlicious is nice yogurt establishment that adds a dimension to the community that otherwise cannot be found. 


Overall, I found the Dishcrawl event to be a success. Many times when eating, it is not necessarily about what the food tastes like, but moreso about the company you enjoy while eating the meal. With a group of enthusiastic foodies, the experience was a great one as I was able to make many new friends and explore an area of town I have never been to otherwise. Further, there was easily enough food for everyone to enjoy.

Note: For the restaurants that participate in a Dishcrawl, it is important to keep some perspective - the participants of the Dishcrawl will be members of media, influential local food-lovers, and potential foodies from further away. When one takes the Dishcrawl seriously and delivers a good experience, the rewards are obviously. Conversely, by not taking the customers seriously, the consequences seem just as predictable. 


Seoul Sausage Company - Interrupt

>> Monday, June 3, 2013

Date of Dining: 4/13/2013
Price: $7-10 per item
Location: 11313 Mississippi Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Previously, we discussed how food truck owners that were successful were able to parlay that success into brick and mortar establishments.  Today we discuss one of the most famous of those examples as the winners of The Great Food Truck Race Season 3 - Seoul Sausage.
After winning the Great Food Truck Race, owners Ted Kim, Yong Kim, and Chris Oh used the winnings to not only establish a food truck, but to also open a brick and mortar establishment. Situated in Little Osaka in Los Angeles, the storefront is the perfect location to get a late night (or in my case mid-afternoon) snack.

flaming ball - rice, kimchi, garlic, jalapeno, sriracha aioli
Famous from the show, the fried rice balls are one of the signature dishes of Seoul Sausage. I had to try one to see what all the fuss was about. While I've had my share of fried balls from various food trucks, I did enjoy the Seoul Sausage ball more. The panko breading was extremely tasty, and the filling of the ball had the right combination of seasoning, spices, and flavor. The sriracha aioli dip was a great complement as well.

Da KFC (korean fried chicken) - sweet and sour, daikon, kimchi cornbread
Rather than get a sausage, I had on good authority to try the KFC. The fried chicken was just as good as can be expected from a well-fried korean-style chicken, but the spicy and tangy sauce brought the dish to a new level. The daikon cubes were perfect as a refreshing palate cleanser between bites of the succulent chicken. The only disappointment was the rather bland cornbread.


Overall Seoul Sausage is a great addition to the Little Osaka - it provides some great fusion snack foods and variety that the area otherwise lacks. The group won The Great Food Truck race because the food was great, and the brick and mortar location shows just how good the food is. I look forward to a return visit - hopefully I'll try the Sausage next time!


Updates: Big News and a Dishcrawl

This will be a shorter post, but it will cover some news as I haven't written in awhile.

First, you can expect some major news to break in the next few weeks. In addition the news, I'll be looking to write about a few places I've been to the past few months as well. Look for these articles to hit starting this week.

Next, after starting in San Diego over a year ago, Dishcrawl is making its way to Carlsbad, and I've been invited to check out the event. Dishcrawl is an event that is completely open to the public where the attendees visit 4 restaurants in a region and have a chance to meet with the chef or owners of those restaurants to ask questions, while enjoying the signature dishes of each establishment. Overall, it should just be a great time in visiting with other like-minded foodies and having a great time. Expect a report of this next week. In the meantime, you can check out some past dishcrawls at the facebook page and discover which 4 restaurants will be featured by following the dishcrawl twitter @DishcrawlCarl.

For the next article, expect an update on a popular food truck with lots of soul...


George's California Modern - Wedding Reception

>> Monday, April 1, 2013

Date of Dining: 3/31/2013 
Location: 1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037

Due to my lack of writing lately, it looks like I will be doing the unthinkable and actually writing about the same place twice in a row!
While I'm not sure of the exact process involved with planning a wedding reception at George's, I do know that the bride and groom get to be involved with the menu to a large degree. As a result, the menu tends to get slanted towards seasonal versions of favorite dishes.
menu for the wedding
I was extremely fortunate to be invited my Yao of {insert-food} to his wedding. Yao worked with Chef Trey Foshee and his wife to develop a great menu for the wedding. As Yao hails from a family full of foodies and constantly enjoys culinary adventures with his wife, the food for his wedding was extremely important. While I don't know if it was his intention, I felt that Chef Foshee's food illustrated the themes of love between my friends and delivered the message in a way that only food can.


As with any wedding, we started the evening with some canapes.
pea soup - chino farms peas, ham snow
The pea soup was very light and refreshing. Unlike other pea purees, the soup was not very viscous and worked nicely as a savory drink. The ham snow was a very nice touch that added just the right amount of seasoning to the soup. This dish was illustrative of flirting in a relationship. It lightly tickled the taste buds to get an interest before moving in for the next move.
lobster falafel - meyer lemon yogurt
The falafel had the perfect mix of lobster flavor with delicate spices. The lemon yogurt really tied together all the flavors and lowered the intensity of the spices. This was my favorite of the canapes. The falafel reminded me of when you find that common interest with the one you love as it really hooked me into the meal.
beef tongue tacos - cilantro, avocado, carrot
These were introduced as "beef tacos" since it was feared that some would not want to enjoy the tongue. Like other preparations of beef tongue I had at Georges, the tongue was cooked to perfection; there was a great balance of flavor, texture, and crunch. This course was more about the different textures and crunches as there was contrast between the tongue, the taco shell, and the pickled carrot. The Mexican flavors melded together very well and it was an enjoyable bite. The tacos were similar to the first fight a couple has as the crunch was similar to a fight, but the flavors were similar to the making up afterwards, forging and even stronger relationship.

First Course

chino farms peas - dungeness crab, almond milk sorbet, lettuce cream, yuzu, rhubarb
To me the first course was all about duality: the sweetness of the peas with the sweetness of the crab, the sweetness of the peas with the sweetness of the almond milk, the juxtaposition between the sweetness of the peas and the slight bitterness of the pea pods, the bitterness of the pea pods against the bitterness of the lettuce cream. All of these elements worked together to really illustrate that while the peas may be great alone, they are much better when paired with another. The amalgamation of the dish was an extremely complex, yet light and refreshing salad.

Second Course

mushroom stew - 60 degree egg, black truffle, roasted onion jam, potato foam
While chanterelle season has passed, the substitute of maitake and bushimeji mushrooms worked really well, and I hardly noticed the difference. This dish was every bit as good as I remembered it, and all I wanted to do was revel in the glory of the taste as all my other troubles were washed away. The stew had a very similar effect to love where one simply wants to enjoy the harmonic ecstasy of the moment. This dish was my favorite of the night.

Third Course (A)

lamb loin and shoulder - charred eggplant, peas, apple, pine nut risotto, lamb "caramel"
The lamb was cooked perfectly and the rich red meat flavors really shone through. The strong savory flavors of the lamb were held in check by the sweetness of the peas and the slight tartness of the apple. The lamb was similar to the strong raging passion of love while the vegetables were the sensible logic that holds back those emotions in public. Together, they formed a symbiosis that created a wonderful plate.

Third Course (B)

local black cod - peas, asparagus, fennel, razor clam-tomato broth, seaweed, meyer lemon
The black cod was cooked to be extremely delicate. The vegetable medley was a really nice textural contrast to the absolute delicacy of the fish. Meanwhile, the razor clams added a nice chewy element to the vegetables. The cod itself had a really nice and rich flavor, but it was really highlighted by the fennel. While the cod was the star of the dish, it only succeeded when backed with the fennel, whose contrast allowed the cod to really shine through. 

Fourth Course

ginger panna cotta - vanilla crumble, tangerine, cucumber sorbet
The panna cotta again illustrated duality: the panna cotta itself was extremely spiced from the ginger, while the cucumber sorbet immediately cooled the palate. The orange and vanilla paired off with the panna cotta, but the cucumber was the voice of reason and brought the situation back to balance. 

Fifth Course

left - banana tiramisu - banana cake, espresso, marscapone cream, chocolate mousse, buttercream
right - hazelnut almond - praline, nutella mousse, swiss meringue buttercream
by Jenny Wenny Cakes
Both cakes were extremely moist and very well put together. I really enjoyed the banana tiramisu as it wasn't as sweet, which allowed the flavors of the banana and espresso to shine through more clearly. The hazelnut almond cake was also very enjoyable as the flavor of hazelnut was pervasive throughout. Overall, both cakes were enjoyable.


Overall I thought Chef Foshee did a great job with the wedding menu. I really thought his interpretation for the wedding dishes to highlight different facets of love was a wonderful interpretation of the relationship. As my friends had a hand in choosing the dishes, I felt that I learned a lot about them and their love for one another as I was eating the food. It was a truly masterful job and great culmination to a beautiful wedding day. I hope Yao and his wife have many years of happiness and wonderful life together. I hope they will live in good health and that their kids will also have good health. Finally, I hope they enjoy their honeymoon in Japan! (Yao, no blogging allowed during the honeymoon!)


George's California Modern - New Years Eve 2013

>> Thursday, March 7, 2013

Date of Dining: 1/31/2012
Price: $75 for 4 course prix fixe
Location: 1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037

The Quick Bit

+ high quality innovative dishes
+ great service and front of house
+ nice selection of wines
Δ some small inconsistencies in food
Δ dishes could have been explained better

For those wondering, I am still alive but I've been quite busy traveling around the country the past few weeks. While I did eat many a great meal, I decided not to try and get past TSA with my camera as I wasn't checking any bags, so unfortunately we'll have to re-live a few older experiences.
While I've covered TBL3 quite extensively, it's been awhile since I've visited George's for the regular menu. While my previous experience wasn't that great, I hoped that I would enjoy the "regular menu" more during this visit.
I ended up visiting as part of the New Years Eve 2013 celebration with a group of other foodies. When we sat down, we noticed a red wine stain on the tablecloth as well as some hairs as if the table had not been properly bused prior to our seating. When we pointed it out to the wait staff, they promptly re-set the entire table and gave a complimentary round of champagne for the table, which I thought was a great, Michelin quality move.

First Course

smoked beef tongue carpaccio - winter truffles, comte, burnt onions, thyme pearls
I ordered this dish remembering the fabulous beef tongue dish from TBL3. While this was not those standards, I still found the dish very enjoyable. There was a nice balanced smoky flavor on the perfectly prepared beef, and the onion and comte was the perfect complement to the dish. The only downside was that I did not detect any truffle as was advertised, but fortunately I felt the plate was great even without it.

Second Course

chanterelle stew - 60 degree egg, roasted onion jam, potato foam

As I previously pointed out, I felt this dish was one of the best of all of 2012. The creamy unctuousness of the egg was balanced with the harmonious earthy flavors of the chanterelles that were stewed to a soft texture so that the entire dish sung of umami flavors. The onion jam added just a touch of sweetness to brighten the dish as well. 

Third Course

roasted duck - beets, cocoa, black pepper gnocchi, strawberry, buckwheat, sorrel
The duck was cooked perfectly and the skin retained a nice crispy texture. The gnocchi were cooked to a nice soft pillow and worked well against the sauce. I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the sweetness of the beets, the bitterness of the cocoa, and the tartness of the strawberries. The elements were deconstructed on the plate, but amalgamated to a nice complex and rich sauce.

Fourth Course

goat cheese panna cotta - cranberry compote, orange segments, bacon, sage gel, honey foam
I really enjoyed the contrast between the bacon bits and the dairy flavors of the panna cotta. I also felt that the safe gel and honey foam really provided nice highlights to brighten up the flavors of the dish. Unfortunately, the crust of the panna cotta was too hard; it was difficult to eat and didn't seem to add any interesting flavors to the dish. Fortunately it was easy to scoop the panna cotta off the crust and enjoy the meal without the hazard.


Overall, my second visit to George's was much more successful than the first visit. While there may have been some roadblocks, the front of house skillfully overcame those obstacles and made the entire evening a night to remember. The chanterelle stew was one of the best dishes I had all year, and I can't wait to potentially see it again in the future.
While TBL3 won the terrabyte, the regular George's California Modern is still a great destination, and is awarded the gigabyte award.


Slater's 50/50 (Lake Forest) - Interrupt

>> Sunday, February 10, 2013

Date of Dining: 2/10/13 
Price: $5 per appetizer, $9-18 per burger
Location: 24356 Swartz Ave, Lake Forest, CA 92630

The Quick Bit

+ knowledgeable and friendly service
+ same great Slater's 50/50 brand in a new location
+ great customization of burgers
Δ some small kitchen kinks still to work out

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a preview night event for this restaurant and the food price was comp'd
I recently visited Slater's 50/50 in San Diego for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The Slater's brand provides gourmet burgers in a casual and relaxed atmosphere along with over 100 beers on tap, specialty cocktails, and beer cocktails. It is the brainchild of owner Scott Slater and Executive Chef Brad Lyons (read more about them in my previous coverage). When I received an invitation to attend the "preview night" of the new Lake Forest branch, I thought it was a great opportunity to re-live the experience.
brand new condiments
One thing I thought would be interesting was that due to my familiarity with Slater's 50/50, I was likely to know more about the menu and concept than my server. To my delight, my server ended up being great at his job; he knew the menu very well, he was friendly, and very responsive to any request. If it wasn't for his obvious nervousness with being an opening, I would have thought he was actually a veteran server from another location.
take 2 - french fries and beer battered onion rings
Perhaps the only mishap of the night was the take 2 appetizer. It is normal to expect some kinks to any new restaurant and our appetizer seemed to have been friend long ago and died under the heat lamp. However, the bacon ketchup and pumpkin sauce were so good that they almost rescued the dish.
design it - 1/3 lb angus, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green chile, horseradish sauce
The design it was cooked to the desired temperature, and the horseradish sauce was an absolute hit. Rather than use store-bought horseradish, it was clear that the kitchen had made their own sauce as it was kicking strong and really complemented the flavor of the beef patty. The green chile also added that great pepper flavor without the heat to add an additional dimension to the burger.
burger of  the month - "pizza burger" hawaiian - 1/3lb 50-50 angus/sausage patty, mozzarella sticks
grilled pineapple, ham, marinara sauce
I elected to try the burger of the month, as the concept of the pizza burger sounded interesting. Overall, I was really happy with the burger as it really did taste similar to pizza, except that it was much better. The flavor of the 50/50 beef/sausage patty was extremely exciting. Coupled with the sweetness of the pineapple and the crunch from the mozarella, and the entire burger was enjoyable to eat.
cococarma - toasted coconut, caramel, chocolate cookie, ice cream
The cococarma features a warm cookie topped with ice cream. Just like the other place that serves a similar dessert, this was just as delightful. If you could have a warm girl scout cookie somoa topped with ice cream, the result would be the cococarma.


While many new restaurants need up to 3 months to catch their stride, I truly believe Slater's 50/50 in Lake Forest will be running full speed inside a week. In the mean time, enjoy the selection of beers and exciting burgers.
With the ability to translate the great Slater's experience so quickly and seamlessly, Slater's 50/50 is awarded the bit award.


Solace & the Moonlight Lounge - Matt Gordon Tasting

>> Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Date of Dining: 1/15/2013
Price: $100 for 8 course tasting
Location: 25 East E St, Encinitas, CA

The Quick Bit

+ high quality menu packed full of bold and rich flavors
+ great creativity and use of technique to create interesting dishes
+ most dishes were very aromatic
Δ is there such thing as too much of a good thing?

As we were enjoying the previous TBL3, the brain trust of myself, Rodzilla, Yao from {insert-food}, and Foodie Flirt was hard at work in determining which restaurant to visit next. One of the candidates was Chef Matt Gordon, who was interested in creating a tasting experience. After contacting Chef Gordon, we were able to arrange such a tasting at his Encinitas Restaurant Solace & the Moonlight Lounge.
Chef Matt Gordon is the Executive Chef and part-owner of Solace & the Moonlight Lounge - the second restaurant to open after Urban Solace. Prior to moving to San Diego, Chef Gordon worked in such kitchens as Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar, Scott's Seafood, and Gordon Biersch Brewing Company. 
Just prior to our visit, Chef Gordon had an interview published on Eater. Our group found this interview extremely enlightening on his approach to food. We also noticed that he was inspired by Chef Trey Foshee of George's California Modern. When Foodie Flirt invited Chef Foshee to join, I felt extremely fortunate when that invitation was accepted. Before the meal began, Chef Gordon explained that the menu was inspired by foods he liked to eat himself and hoped we would enjoy them as well.

First Course

sea and smoke - smoked oysters, duck fat, clam dip, squid ink crisps, lemon shallot chutney
I started this course my sampling a small bite of the clam dip, and I was immediately transported into unctuous decadence. The clam dip was made of cultured cream, clams, and duck fat, which amalgamated a real complexity in different fats, textures, and saltiness. When I felt that I might have been potentially overwhelmed, the chutney immediately refreshed my palate. The chutney also did a great job of lingering on the palate, which infused the successive bites with fresh acidity. Finally, the squid ink crisps were extremely tasty and enabled a fun component of dipping into the sauce.
I really felt that this dish was an impressive way to start the meal because it was extremely rich, yet balanced in flavor, acidity, texture, and restraint. It might have even been my favorite dish if not for...

Second Course

offaly interesting - confit of sweetbreads, chive crusted bone marrow, white onion gruyere puree
onion soup
This course was Chef Gordon's take on French Onion soup. If other french onion soups are this good, I will order it every time I see it for the rest of my life. The bone marrow was a great flavor burst and acted almost like the bread component. The different preparations of onions were really enjoyable in their textural contrast as well as how the flavors melded together into an even more complex flavor. Finally, the sweetbread was prepared perfectly and was immensely fulfilling. While many dishes were great, I felt that this dish was the one I enjoyed the most for the entire evening.

Third Course

is that a carrot in our pocket? - sable fish stuffed with poached and roasted carrot, watercress
sunchoke star anise sauce
The sable fish was prepared perfectly as was extremely delicate and flavorful. The carrot puree was infused with curry, which was a nice contrast to both the anise and the sweetness of the carrots. The roasted carrots were also extremely well prepared, and we even enjoyed eating the carrot tops. However, I really enjoyed the sunchoke anise sauce. I felt the anise spice really accentuated the various flavors of the dish.

Fourth Course

curds and whey - housemade ricotta roulade, green olive juice, candied kabocha squash, honey jelly,
mizuna, caramelized whey reduction
I enjoyed various elements of this dish. The ricotta was well prepared and had a great flavor. I also enjoyed that the honey jelly was "spiked" with a real kick of cayenne. Finally, the caramelized whey was very clever and inventive. 

Fifth Course

uni-laterally banned - cornmeal shrimp cake, uni gonad, seared foie gras, foie gras mousse,
uni shellstock reduction
For many at our table, this was the first time that we were able to experience uni and foie in the same bite. Overall, most of us felt that it worked because the uni was able to stand up to the foie.
The best part of this dish was the foie gras mousse ball. When the ball was cut into, the foie mousse covered the rest of the plate and mixed with the reduction to make a rich and flavorful sauce. The combination of the liquefied uni and foie against the whole uni and foie was a thrilling juxtaposition of textures and flavors as the flavors were each unique. All of this was tied together by the prawn contrasted against the shrimp corn cake. These were welcome additions to use in soaking up the rest of the uni and foie sauce.

Sixth Course

deer prudence - pine smoked sous vide venison, chanterelles, potato mille-feuilles, red wine syrup,
pickled baby red onion
 The venison was cooked perfectly and contained a very smoked flavor, which lingered on the palate. This smoke infused the mushrooms, potato, and onions with the same smoke flavor. The mille-feuille was a technical marvel as all the layers of potato were cooked well and contained a light texture.

Seventh Course

popper bonilla - cauliflower pot de creme, brown butter cake, sweet jalapeno caviar
cheddar crisp, vanilla bean whipped, bacon dust
For dessert, we were surprised as Chef Gordon invited Chef Jeff Bonilla to create desserts. You may remember that Chef Bonilla created my favorite dessert of 2012.
After eating my first dessert of 2013, it is going to be awfully difficult to surpass. The pot de creme was extremely light and airy, yet retained a rich cauliflower flavor base. The jalapeno caviar contained all the pepper flavor of the jalapeno without the heat from the capsaicin. This allowed a really fresh taste of pepper be infused along with the caviar. However, the cheddar crisp is what really tied the dish together. The crisp contained the salt needed to accentuate all the other flavors while also acting as the crunchy textural contrast, which made the dish incredibly fun to eat. 

Eighth Course

terry's milk - aerated chocolate, gran marnier gel, chocolate genoise, satsuma foam, candied orange glass
chocolate sauce
The chocolate genoise had the perfect texture of cake, which really carried this dish. I also enjoyed the orange glass, which added a nice amount of acidity and texture. The various chocolates acted as distinct and different sauces in which to dip and enjoy the cake. 


While I was initially excited about tasting Chef Gordon's food, the entire dinner exceeded my highest expectations. Chef Gordon warned me not to expect food on the level of TBL3, but I felt several of these dishes were on that level of preparation. With the great company I had for dinner, I felt the meal was a smashing success. I hope that in the future, Chef Gordon may be willing to make his tastings available to the public by arrangement, similar to how TBL3 is arranged. When that happens, I will definitely be willing to return for an encore engagement.
While I can't give Solace itself an award, I will go ahead and give Chef Gordon's tasting dishes the gigabyte award. Hopefully this tasting will be more available to the public in the future, so the award carries more meaning.


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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