Archive for the ‘ California Restaurants ’ Category


Alchemy turns food into fun fare

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Located in the San Diego community of South Park (just east of downtown) is a neighborhood restaurant the locals rave about, so I had to check it out for myself. Alchemy is a casual and slightly eclectic place serving up some interesting culinary fare and craft cocktails. The focal point of the space is the bar, as well as the large and ornate stainless steel tree sculpture. There is also a random pattern of books affixed to the ceiling creating a literary collage, while the exposed duct work provides a bit of an industrial look. The walls are adorned with original artwork that periodically rotates, showcasing local talent.

My date and I started off by ordering glasses of wine, accompanied by the restaurant’s most popular, or perhaps, its most well known dish, the Taro Tacos. These pork belly tacos have thinly sliced spicy cucumbers, micro cilantro and are topped with bacon salt. Each bite sent us closer to hog heaven!

We decided we’d try a few additional items from the “Bar Snacks” menu, which are quite affordable. Next up was a cup of the sweet potato soup, which was both creamy and full of flavor. Then, we tried the Norwegian Cabbage Roll…this colorful dish was a large piece of purple cabbage filled with roasted lamb, then rolled up topped with juniper berries and accented with fresh dill. The dish was a distinct set of flavors than neither of us had experienced before. Then it was the Red Snapper Ceviche served with some freshly fried corn tortillas lightly dusted with sea salt. This was the first time both of us had tried, and/or, even heard of a ceviche being made with Red Snapper…it was outstanding—so much so we almost ordered another one.

We then shared a fish market special entree for the evening, which was Seabass topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and capers on a bed of Asian noodles. It was cooked to perfection and the ideal final course for our meal. Final main course that is!  We did decide to indulge in dessert.

For dessert, we opted for the blueberry bread pudding with bourbon caramel, topped with streusel and cinnamon gelato.  If that were not enough, we also tried the duo of house-made sorbet accompanied with two cups of coffee with Baileys Irish Crème swirled in for good measure—this was like a dessert itself…a hug-in-a-mug even.

Alchemy truly feels like a neighborhood establishment where everyone knows your name…where new friends meet and old friends reconnect. If you’ve been to Alchemy before, please leave a comment below and let my readers and me know what dish or aspect you enjoy most.

Alchemy Restaurant information:

Phone: 619-255-0616
Website: Alchemy San Diego
Address: 1503 30th Street – San Diego, CA 92102
Menu: Sample Dinner Menu

Burger Lounge serves up hip experience

Monday, May 21st, 2012

I recently had the pleasure of dining at “Burger Lounge” while staying on Coronado Island in San Diego, CaliforniaBurger Lounge puts a whole new spin on the “burger” experience…how you ask?  First, the layout and decor is pleasantly unique, hip and identifiable (kudos to the person who came up with the brand image). Burger Lounge has artfully combined the feel of a nightclub with the ambiance of a chic  burger joint…hence the “lounge” connection.

As you enter Burger Lounge for the first time, you’ll notice how long and narrow the restaurant is—almost like a wide-body airplane, not in a negative way…rather intimate like a “lounge.”  In the center of the restaurant is an aisle (or pathway) that leads to the order counter, where the menu is compendious, offering delicious grass fed beef, turkey, veggie and salmon burgers.  There’s also a couple of salads, and of course fries and shakes on the menu.  And, in true “lounge” fashion, they serve beer and wine.

During our visit, my traveling companion and I split a grass-fed cheeseburger, salmon burger and an order of fries. Everything was fresh and delicious, with an unexpectedly elegant presentation (for a burger joint).  Burgers are served on dishes you’d expect at a fine-dining restaurant.  Half the restaurant seating is located inside, while the other half outside (under cover).

I don’t know what the other Burger Lounge locations are like, but the one on Coronado is small and busy, so bring your patience and get ready to dazzle your taste buds.

Currently there are only a handful of Burger Lounge locations in southern California, however if they play their cards right, I fully expect they’ll be giving In-N-Out and Five Guys a run for their money.

If you’ve ever been to a Burger Lounge, please leave a comment below and let my readers and me know what you like best? If you have friends or family who are burger fans, please hit the “like” button below and share this post with them.

Those in the know…here is the “clue.”

‘Solace’ seduces palate with enticing coastal cuisine

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

During a visit to  Encinitas, California, my traveling companion and I visited a newer restaurant called, SolaceSolace and the Moonlight Lounge is situated off highway 101 just blocks from Moonlight Beach.  The building is part of a LEED certified mixed-use project anchored by Whole Foods. The two story structure has a contemporary, urban chic feel. The interior is comfortable and unpretentious with a a deck equip with heat lamps—unfortunately there are no ocean views, but those interested in sitting out there will enjoy a colorful sky during dusk.

In addition to the modern structure, what attracted us to Solace was the unique blend of coastal American cuisine.  There were so many deliciously sounding menu items, that we opted to share a few different dishes.  We started our meal with a couple of appetizers, which included:

  • Dungeness Crab “Brik” with spiced aioli, celery leaves and a fried lemon.
  • Seared Albacore Chop Chop with avo, cilantro, cucumbers, pine nuts and peppers.

For our entree, we devoured a perfectly prepared mustard incrusted White Bass, with farro stew mixed with a toasted black pepper sauce.  It was simply delicious. Our meal was accompanied with a couple of pints of cold locally brewed Hefeweizen (unfortunately I’ve forgotten the name).

The portions at Solace are modest, so we were excited to indulge in dessert—we decided on one of the more popular dishes, a slice of coconut cake with rum caramel sauce sprinkled with sugared Macadamia nuts and frosted in a light cream cheese.  It was so good, but a tad sweet for my taste. If I had it all to do over, I would have gone for our second choice…the black cherry soda roasted apple with french toast and ginger ice cream topped with black cherry caramel. Which would have you have chosen?

The service at Solace was pretty good, especially at the on-set, but as the evening waned and the restaurant got busier, our server seemed to disappear.  The bus service was great and the manager made a couple of appearances to make sure everything was satisfactory.

Our experience at Solace was overall outstanding, from the atmosphere to the food to the service, it was a thoroughly enjoyable time. My only criticism would be the pricing…it seemed a tad high, especially based on the modest portions.  I actually love small portions, but I also like commensurate prices.

Solace is the brainchild of partner and executive chef, Matt Gordon, who is a 22-year veteran of the restaurant industry working in culinary destinations like San Francisco and Flagstaff, AZ (my home state).

Solace and the Moonlight Lounge information:

25 East E Street
Encinitas, CA 92024 (map)
Solace & the Moonlight Lounge

Point Loma Seafood – San Diego, CA

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I used to live and work in San Diego and used to visit Point Loma Seafood at least once per week.  If you want really fresh and outstanding seafood, this is the place!  I LOVE the fish & chips and this is some of the best I’ve ever had.  The only other place I’ve ever had great fish/chips is in Seattle at the “Spud.” 

They have a great selection of smoked fish, outstanding sushi, etc. You won’t be disappointed in the food.

Things to know before going…the place is always packed!  There is very limited parking, so you may have to walk a bit.  They have an enclosed patio area, but you’ll probably want to eat outside and gander at the fishing boats in the marina.  Note:  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR FOOD UNATTENDED to get ketchup or something…the birds will eat it in a blink of an eye…I’ve seen it happen a number of times.

Also, as I was saying, this place is packed all the time…there are no lines, it’s organized chaos…work your way up to the front of the counter (don’t be afraid that you are cutting in front of someone, it’s every person for themselves).   You place your order and will be given a number…once they call is when you pay and pick up your order.