My friends and I went on one of those 'just because' daytrips to San Diego earlier this month, and while we didn't check out anything new foodwise, it was pleasant to re-visit some of my favorite spots. Moreso given the unexpectedly sunny-yet-breezy weather down there.
We started off with a brunch at Urban Solace, a North Park restaurant serving up contemporary American fare with a few eclectic twists. For the table, we shared the buttermilk cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting and pecan butter sauce. While decadent, I'm surprised that this roll doesn't taste particularly heavy. The butter pecan sauce wasn't too sweet, and the frosting was whipped to an almost cloud-like frothiness.
Perhaps more impressive are their cocktails. I had the pleasure of trying The Big Apple with Leopold Brothers' NY Apple Whiskey, Campari, Apple Cider, Lemon and Bitters. It might look almost too sweet and fruity on the menu, but it's definitely not - the Campari's herbal bitterness definitely tempered the other ingredients, and the cider is more about the bubbles than sugar, making this a delightful daytime sipper.
Following brunch, we took advantage of the lovely day to trek in and around Balboa Park, starting off at the Museum of Photographic Arts -- a cozy, intimate space with a few carefully-curated collections, though I was amused at the irony of them forbidding any photo-taking inside.
This was followed by a leisurely stroll through the El Prado, a brief pause at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for a free concert and finally, The House of Pacific Relations' International Cottages where there was a pre-St. Paddy's Day music & dance festival from the House of Ireland (along with a slew of other exhibits, performances and food/drink samples from the other houses.)
After the trot about the park, we decided it was high time to check out a brewery, and opted for the Lost Abbey, where we tasted a few of their eclectic, Belgian-inspired brews (along with some California-esque beers from its more mainstream sibling, Port Brewing.)
Before leaving, I wanted to snap up a bottle for their Carnevale (my current fave of their line,) but that ran out so I opted for the peppery, spicy Red Barn Ale instead.
With the sun slowly sinking below the horizon, we dove back down to San Diego proper to dine at Craft & Commerce, a fairly new restaurant & bar that does beers & cocktails (and of course, beer cocktails) pretty well. Having had our fill of brewskis already from Lost Abbey, we opted mostly for the latter, though I simply couldn't resist Curieux's siren call and got the Up in Smoke (nearest one in photo above,) where the Jim Beam-aged beer is mixed with Islay Scotch, fuji apples and lime, and the peaty smokiness was a much welcome addition to the fruity & oaky notes. Equally delicious was conbon's Lay Lady Lay (farthest one in above photo) with Raspberry Lambic, Champagne and Ginger -- surprisingly not too sweet and the ginger's spiciness definitely amplified the fizzy fun.
Still not quite out of my salad craze, I got the citrus & avocado salad with fried goat cheese, marcona almonds, jicama and citrus vinaigrette. The dressing was sweeter than the one @ Urban Solace, but again, this was a fun fiesta of different flavors & textures. I particularly love how the small spheres of goat cheese croquettes lent a slight decadence to this dish.
While we wanted to try their roasted marrow; that went out so we opted for the broiled oysters that wound up being sensational; the meat was succulent, velvety and briny and I loved the crisped up seaweed topping on it.
All in all, it was time & money well spent . . . and I can't wait to dive down again another day trip of eats, drinks and adventures.
3823 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
675 W. Beech St.
San Diego, CA 92101