Harbor Fish Cafe ~ Carlsbad

First off you may be asking ” Why didn’t you go to the Oceanside Harbor Fish and Chips”

One, the Oceanside harbor is in dire need of a remodel upgrade, as our second biggest tourist attraction (next to the pier) it is kind of sad.

Second, Squirrels.

As a 5-year-old boy I was at the Carlsbad lagoon feeding ducks and some loons. A squirrel showed up, so I fed him too. Then another one, then another one. Then one decided he was not going to wait for me to throw bread and climbed up my leg and attached himself to me. I freaked. Spinning around trying to throw him off. My parents were too far away to realize what was going on. Eventually I fell to the ground and he scampered off. So that is why I do not go to the harbor.

When you see a squirrel you see this…

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When I see a Squirrel I see this…

evil-squirrel

Anyway back to fish and chips.

Harbor Fish and Chips has been around since 1981

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See the sign says so!

The View can not be beat.

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On a sunny day, please.

On to the fish and chips..

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Fish and Chips ~ It is Fish and Chips.

Really nicely battered fish, crisp chips, malt vinegar and tartar sauce. What more do you want. I really like the batter. I lived in England for 7 months and this place has my favorite. There are other places that do a lighter tempura style batter which is good and a lot of places that do beer batter (or tout it), Yet this is my go to.

This is Nirvana, sitting at the counter, looking at the ocean, and eating my fish and chips.

Oh, by the way. The squirrel story..totally made up:) I just like this place better. Yes I am an asshole:)

Harbor Fish Cafe

3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad,

#fishandchips #squrrels #food #foodporn

Top Choice Fish Market & Eatery ~ Carlsbad

Top Choice Fish Market & Eatery has opened recently at 6118 Paseo Del Norte in Carlsbad. Located next to Tip Top Meats the Top Choice Fish shares the same owners as the famous butcher shop and German market.

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The interior is simple and clean as one would expect from a fish market. It is divided into two sides. The retail market and the eatery.

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The eatery.

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The fish case.

The quality of ingredients is apparent. Perfect flesh and also perfect butchery. All fish are provided by San Diego’s very own Catalina Offshore Products.

They also have a selection of whole fish. Every fish I saw head the clearest eyes.

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The one at the bottom of the middle row looks pissed.

In addition they carry shellfish as well as a freezer case of other items like fish heads.

Taking a note from the butchery next store Top Choice Fish offers consumers the opportunity to buy 8oz cuts of fish and have it cooked and paired with two sides for cost of purchase plus $5. This what I came here for.

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I selected a beautiful piece of Opah for my lunch.

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Opah, grilled medium rare with coleslaw, Spanish rice, and a small salad

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Perfect medium rare, as asked for.

They offer a number of cooking styles and bastes. You could have Salmon fried fish and chips if so desired. In addition a selection of seafood gumbos, and chowders are also able to be purchased.

The prices vary by choice of fish but my Opah plate came to about $15. I was happy with that. The quality of product and cooking would stand up to any restaurant kitchen worth their weight. The sides were a let down, not bad just OK. Because it is a market there is no sales tax on most items.

The fishmongers were on point but the staff, though nice, was still a little bit green. I noticed a few order mistakes, which were quickly and appropriately handled. All in all a great lunch.

There is now North County access to the same great seafood products used by San Diego’s best Chefs. Now just because you have a paint brush does not mean you are gonna be Picasso, but at least now you have a really good paint brush.

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I drew a Opah.

Top Choice Fish Market & Eatery

6118 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad

#food #seafood #foodporn # fishmarket #restaurant

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Easter Sunday Dining Options Around San Diego

Some great Easter dining options around the Greater San Diego area.

Lakehouse Hotel & Resort & Decoy Dockside Dining            

1025 La Bonita Drive

San Marcos, CA 92078

(760) 744-0120

http://www.lakehousehotelandresort.com/

Dining dockside on Easter makes for a true southern California spring holiday. Enjoy an Easter Sunday brunch buffet on April 16 with sweet and savory breakfast favorites, a chilled seafood display, hand-carved meats and a decadent dessert bar, all beginning at 9:00 a.m. The little ones can take part in free Easter egg hunts, taking place at 10:30 a.m. and at 1:30 p.m. Brunch-goers will listen to live music performances from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for a truly relaxing holiday. The cost to attend is $60 for adults, which includes free-flowing sparkling wine, and $19 for children 12 and under. To reserve your spot, call (760) 744-0120. Be on the lookout for a special appearance by the Easter Bunny!

Photo Below: Decoy Dockside Dining

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TRUST

3752 Park Boulevard

San Diego, CA 92103

(619) 795-6901

www.trustrestaurantsd.com

Nestled in the neighborhood of Hillcrest, chic eatery TRUST is taking Easter brunch to the next level this year. Soak in the sunshine on the restaurant’s patio while indulging in the Lemon Meringue French Toast, a mountain of Brioche bread topped with vanilla Ricotta, toasted almonds, lemon curd, graham crackers and blueberry. Let the bartenders at TRUST work their mixology magic by making the perfect brunch beverage to pair with your meal. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For additional information and reservations, call (619) 795-6901.

 

Photo Below: TRUST’s Lemon Meringue French Toast

 

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The Westgate Hotel

1055 2nd Avenue

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 238-1818

www.westgatehotel.com

The Westgate Hotel invites locals and weekend visitors alike to join in Easter Sunday festivities! The hotel will feature Easter-themed afternoon teas and a festive Easter Champagne brunch where a cotton-tailed guest is scheduled to hop in and say hello.

Easter Bunny Teas: Enjoy a European-style afternoon tea, featuring kid-friendly petit fours and mini pastries, along with an Easter egg hunt and magic show on the Riviera Terrace. Families can meet the Easter Bunny beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15. The price is $50 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under, plus tax and gratuity.

Champagne Brunch: On Sunday, April 16, experience The Westgate’s traditional Easter Champagne Brunch, complete with fresh seafood, made-to-order omelets, carving stations and a children’s section. Little ones will be entertained by a face painting artist and a visit from the Easter Bunny. Brunch will be served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The price is $89 for adults and $35 for children 12 and under, plus tax and gratuity.

Reserve online today! http://www.westgatehotel.com/events-promotions/special-events/easter-celebrations

Photo Below: Easter Bunny with kids

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Parc Bistro-Brasserie

2760 5th Ave.

San Diego CA 92103

(619) 319-9472

http://www.parcbb.com/

Enjoy a lovely Easter Sunday brunch at Parc Bistro-Brasserie in the heart of Banker’s Hill. With classic French dishes ranging from sweet and savory crepes to steak, seafood towers, and more, there’s something to satisfy everyone at the table. Brunch offerings also include specialty cocktails and $13 bottomless mimosas. View the brunch menu by visiting www.parcbb.com or call (619) 319-9472 to make a reservation.

Photo Below: Parc’s Seafood Tower

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Monello

750 West Fir St.

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 501-0030

https://www.lovemonello.com/

Make Milanese cuisine part of your Easter celebration this year at Monello. On Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16, Monello is showcasing an “egg”-stravagant selection of dishes for their crowd-favorite brunch including Eggs Benedict con Agnello e Spinaci or lamb eggs benedict and spinach. They will also serve a special Lamb Pizza made with cheese, mushroom and spinach. Top these delicious dishes off with the perfect cocktail from their new brunch drink menu including mimosa carafes with your choice of juice or a Caprese Bloody Mary made with vodka, in-hour tomato juice and topped with a fresh mozzarella Caprese skewer. To make reservations, please call (619) 501-0030 or reserve a spot via OpenTable.

Photo Below: Monello’s New Brunch Cocktails

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Bencotto

750 W Fir St #103

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 450-4786

https://www.lovebencotto.com/

 

The chefs at Bencotto Italian Kitchen, right next door to Monello, will also be serving up a few specials to celebrate Easter this year. Lunch and dinner specials on Saturday, April 15 and Sunday, April 16 will include Lasagna Agnello + Porcini e Fontina, homemade lamb lasagna with mushroom and porcini, and Stinco de Agnello con Patate Arrosto al Tartufo, lamb shank and roasted truffle potatoes. Bencotto is open for lunch and dinner every Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling (619) 450-4786.   

 

Photo Below: Bencotto’s upstairs dining area

 

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Giuseppe Fine Restaurants & Catering

700 Prospect Ave.

San Diego, CA 92037

(858) 581-2205

www.grnfc.com

Don’t feel like going out for Easter brunch this year? Giuseppe Catering’s Pronto Delivery program allows you to forget about the stress and cleanup that comes along with hosting, so you can sit back and enjoy your get-together, guests, and an exceptional meal. For formal or large-scale events, the Fine Catering team will be there every step of the way to make sure your event is unforgettable—in the best way. Find full menu details and catering options at www.grnfc.com or call (858) 581-2205 to learn more.

Photo Below: Giuseppe Catering Deviled Eggs

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Have a great Easter! North County options coming shortly.

#food # restaurants #easter #brunch #easterbrunch #sandiego

Sinaloa MXN & Seafood

This is why I write. I am very lucky to eat the way I do and know the Chefs I know. As much as I love Monchong with tangerine salt and anything with snail butter from Chef Willy this is again what I relish. Family recipes passed down from generations. Do not go here and get a carne asada burrito, talk to the family, because that is who you will be dealing with. The mother cooks the son and daughter run the front of house.

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A modest interior hides what is really going on. On a side note the eldest son is a professional boxer.

I just said cook me something you love. She thought about it and it paid off.

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She asked me if I wanted to see how my food was being made. Yes, please and thank you.

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A starter bonus dish. Soup made from the braise that my main was cooked in with star pasta. I felt like a little kid, this meal brought me back to my childhood. This what food is supposed to do.

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The menu..I do not see what I ate on there. They do .99 cent fish tacos as well.

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Hands down the best chili relleno I have ever had. The fry? perfect, the bell pepper still had a crunch and was fresh. The sides flawless. I was told this was her mother’s and her mother’s and her mother’s recipe …it showed.

Then I was asked do want to try her flan she made this morning? You can not say no to that.

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Yep, and then this. Perfect.

Look I do not preach a lot but this place needs to be supported. You do not get this very often. They are lucky that a new Crunch Fitness is about to open in the same plaza along with a something I am not supposed to talk about gourmet doughnut place.

I tipped heavy and walked out spending $20 dollars a steal for what I ate.

Go, talk, eat. nuff said!

Sinaloa MXN & Seafood

1759 Oceanside Blvd. Oceanside, Ca

#food #foodporn #Oceanside #mexicanfood

Wicked Poke ~ oceanside

So, my older brother was down from Olympia Washington to handle some house selling matters for the estate. While here I kind of gave him a tour of the food scene in Oceanside and mentioned Poke and its recent proliferation in North County and San Diego.

Apparently the Poke wave has not crashed in Olympia yet, I’m sure Seattle has seen its share with their abundance of seafood.

So, I used the opportunity to check out a new place called Wicked Poke in Oceanside. Based on word of mouth and some research I was pretty sure of the quality and giving him a good experience. Plus I get a post out of it:)

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Wicked Poke ~ 2401 Vista Way E, Oceanside

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Located in the center next to the huge LA Fitness (used to be Mervyn’s), Wicked Poke is a fast casual, build your own, Poke concept. Similar to Poki Poki if you are familiar with them. There will be a rant at the end about Poke vs Poki and trolls.

You can get a regular or large bowl. The regular is $8.99 and comes with three scoops of protein, the large is $10.99 and includes 5 scoops. You pick a base of salad, white rice, brown rice, or a mix. Your protein choices include salmon, tuna, spicy tuna, scallop, octopus and tofu. Then you pick through a myriad of topping and sauce choices. I liked that there was no additional charge for crab (probably Krab) or avocado.

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Medium Poke Bowl ~ 2 scoops salmon, 1 scoop tuna, white rice, avocado, crab, ginger, seaweed, green onions, sesame seeds, masago, sesame oil, and house spicy sauce. You also get a free cup of Miso soup which is nice.

Everything was really good. The proteins were fresh and flavorful and I liked that the sesame and house sauce were not over powering. My brother liked his as well. He is a foodie (the one who got me into food actually) and understood the concept before going in. I’m sure a Poke place will make it into Olympia’s food offerings soon.

I would rank this slightly better than Poki Poki but it’s really “6 in 1 or half a dozen in the other” it’s so close. I would just put it down to what was ordered and personal preference.

If you love poke I would suggest Yoshino in Carlsbad (get there early they sellout and cash only) and The Lanai in Encinitas (more expensive but great ingredients and Chef driven, in the old Haggo’s taco spot).

Wicked Poke

2401 Vista Way E., Oceanside

Rant time: Poke, Poki, and Trolls……advert your eyes if so desired.

So, the spelling about poke vs poki is unclear. Poke is the original Hawaiian spelling meaning “to slice or cut” or “section”.  Poki is a little more hard to get a uniform answer on, some say it is poke with japanese ingredients, some say it is just an acceptable mis-spelling that upsets Hawaiians. It is also used as marketing, lets say you want to open up Poke Garden and it is already taken by another restaurant in another city or state, Poki Garden is born.

As for trolls, do not email me with trivial BS ” Poki? you obviously have not done any research.” Look asshat sometimes I do not mention things in detail because I do not think its pertinent to the post. Save us both time and instead of emailing me lay down on the train tracks and wait for the Sprinter…I can give you the schedule.

Funny thing is $100 says this kind of email, like the one “Your name Northcountyfood” is misleading or is this some kind of coastal elitism”, are most likely both from restaurant owners whose restaurant I have not covered, or I mentioned their competition not them.  lots of space out there in the blogoshere, start your own and try and keep up.

Constructive criticism is always welcome, lame comments not so much:) I was a semi pro video gamer for a number of years your not gonna rattle me by trolling,

Now go eat some Poke?, Poki? ….decunstructed sushi.

 

New Chef / Menu Items At Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen ~ Oceanside

So, I was invited with about 120 others to try some of the new menu items that will be coming to The Flying Pig’s Oceanside location starting Tuesday.

The new menu will feature Craft, Italian inspired dishes created by new Chef  Justin Lappies. Justin has been working with Executive Chef Mario Moser for the last three years and was tapped to replace exiting Chef Samantha Parker, who is now at Campfire.

Do not worry, it is not a complete menu change and you will still see Flying Pig staples on the menu, it is just an infusion of freshness accompanying the new Chef.

All the dishes were served “family style’ and varied with each table.

What we had…..

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Panzanella Salad ~ Heirloom tomato, red romaine, onion,basil, cucumbers, capers, fried house focaccia, house vin.

Great salad with super fresh ingredients. I would say an interpretation of a panzanella.

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Arancini ~ Arborio rice, herbs, mushrooms, house red sauce and truffle aioli.

A great light version of what can sometimes be a heavy appetizer. I loved the filling and the mushroom flavor. I did not care for the truffle aioli but the red sauce made up for it in spades.

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Meat Flatbread ~ Pepperoni, ham, sausage, house red sauce, caramelized onion, opal basil

Classic, tasty flatbread.

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Tagliatelle ~ Daily Bolognese, with aged parm.

This was my dish of the night. Perfectly cooked, hand-made pasta with a rich sauce that contrasted perfectly with the freshness of the greens.

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Campanile ~ Daily pesto, house sausage, mushrooms, aged parm.

Another tasty pasta dish, loved the pesto and the sausage. Pasta may have been slightly to al dente for my taste.

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Olive Oil Pound Cake with Champagne Gastrique

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Spumoni ~ Pistacio Gelato, Brandied Cherries.

Excellent gelato, could have used more kick out of the brandied cherries.

Overall, great food that will be a nice addition to the Pig’s menu. Just as long as the pork chop does not go anywhere:)

Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

626 South Tremont Street, Oceanside

North County 2016 ~ A look back

So, while 2016 did not see the growth explosion of new places opening  that 2015 did, it did see some important restaurants open and trends take hold or fade.

While this post is too short to be all-inclusive, it hits on what I think was important to the North County food scene over the last year. You know things are good when you really have to edit your self. Other wise it would be “Things I love in North County, see entire website.”

I am going to start with some of the most important restaurant openings in North County (IMO).

Campfire ~ Carlsbad

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Campfire is important for a number of reasons. One it is a great restaurant and would be right at home in the East Village, North Park or Little Italy’s  Food scene. Two, along with Land and Water Company it adds a second ingredient driven, properly sourced, foodie destination restaurant to the mainly touristy, mediocre Carlsbad Village food scene. Lastly, along with Carruth Cellar’s tasting room and Babba Coffee, it is helping to revitalize the north end of state street.

608 ~ Oceanside

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Opening in June of this year 608 brought upscale food in a comfortable setting to Oceanside, and at a price point that made it accessible. Chef Will Eick, in my opinion, is one of San Diego’s most talented young Chefs. He is bringing fine dinning techniques and ingredients and making them approachable. He also just introduced a seven course tasting menu option on the weekends offering the first non Omakase tasting menu option in Oceanside.

Belching Beaver Tavern and Grill ~ Vista

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Like Campfire did in Carlsbad, Belching Beaver joined the Flying Pig and added another farm to table, high calibre restaurant to the growing Vista food scene. Combine that with a talented Chef who focuses on farming and teaching children about food, where it comes from and how to grow it, you can not help love the place. Their beer is alright too:)

It is constantly on my visit, when I can list.

There were quite a few trends in the national food scene that were also seen in North County.

Some have hit their peak…

Fast Casual Poki restaurants. The trend actually hit last year and made its way to San Diego and in turn North County in 2016. You have Wicked Poki, Sunshine Japanese Food, and Poke Poke in Oceanside, Poke Waii in San Marcos, and soon to be opening PokeWan in Carlsbad. I think from the ones I have been to, Poki Poki is the best. If you want higher caliber, chef made Hawaiian food and Poke, I suggest checking out Lanai in Leucadia or Yoshino Japanese Deli in Carlsbad for Poke and Japanese.

Some trends are just continuing to grow…

The Artisanal Coffee / Tea scene has continued to show no sign of stopping for years now. It has finally hit Carlsbad and Oceanside. I should not say finally hit, but grown. The major players that have shown up recently are Banana Dang!, Loose Leaf Tea, Sleeping Tiger, Revolution Roasters, Copa Vida and Steady State Roasting. Who join a number of great coffee houses already in the area. For the first time, in its four-year history, Caffeine Crawl has added two North County routes in Oceanside and Carlsbad that are set to kick off this years San Diego event in January.

Caffeine Crawl San Diego

Declining and rising…

I think the fast casual Gourmet Burger explosion of the last few years is dying down. Not that I think these places will go away, I just feel you will not see as much of a proliferation of places like Habit Burger, Burger Lounge, and Pure Burger as you have.

I think the pendulum is on the up swing for fast casual healthy options like Lemonade, Flower Child, True Food Kitchen, Tender Greens and the like.

Best Dishes of the Year…

This is hard, but because these spring to mind instantly, I have to go with them. Two are from San Diego but deserve mentioning.

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Spicy Scallop Nigiri ~ Wrench and Rodent (Oceanside)

Made for me by Alex, this dish was perfect. Just a slight heat from the red Cyclops Farms jalapenos, and melt in your mouth scallops from Catalina Offshore.

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Pan Seared Opah ~ Flying Pig . (Oceanside)

This was a nightly special, beautiful Opah ( one of my favorite, if not favorite, fish) on red farro and micro greens.

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1 year Anniversary BBQ plate ~ Flying Pig (Vista)

Everything you could want (especially me) on a plate. Perfect Tr-Tip, Pork Loin, and Brisket, cooked over open flame and served with veggies and mash.

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Coop De Ville Chicken Sandwich ~ Crack Shack (SD but soon coming to Encinitas)

Apply named Crack Shack, so good. One of the best fried chicken sandwiches ever.

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Chicken Skin Sandwich ~ Biga (SD)

You think it would be heavy because the main ingredient is chicken skin, nope light and flavorful. I plan to return to Biga for dinner in the new year.

 

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Char Grilled Oysters ~ Campfire (Carlsbad)

Great dish that reminds me of oyster festivals on the sound in Washington State. I get this every time.

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Pork Belly ~ 608 (Oceanside)

I love me some pork and this is a perfect pork belly dish. It is smoked before curing (usually it is the other way around.) making it full of porky goodness.

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Assorted Cookies ~ The Cravory (Carlsbad)

Their cookies will change your life, they changed mine. You can get them at their shop in Bressi Ranch, or in Oceanside at Banana Dang! Favorites are the Red Velvet or Birthday Cake.

Special places that I was so happy to discover this year...

El Chapin

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Authentic and delicious Guatemalan food that can not be beat.

Sitaram

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Family run, fixed daily menu, vegetarian, Indian restaurant that needs to be tried by all.

 

What I’m looking forward to next year….

Trying 608’s tasting menu, Flying Pig’s Brewery, That Boy Good / Alpine Brewing restaurant and  brewery, LTH’s second concept , and much, much, more.

What you can look for from North County Food. A 3 to 4 chef “Dessert Dinner” at Petite Madeline for Oceanside Valentines Week. Another Chef Wine Dinner in March / April, and of course more restaurant highlights.

There you go a short recap of a great year food wise. Happy holidays to all and thanks for your support.

 

 

608 Adding Weekly 7 Course Tasting Menu ~ Oceanside

Chef Willy Eick will be adding a 7 course tasting menu option stating in a few weeks. The menu will run $65 and feature 7 courses plus treats. It will vary slightly week to week based on seasonality and what becomes available that is exciting.

No one I know does a regular tasting menu option in North County. Omakase at Wrench and Rodent would be comparable. It is nice to see a non sushi restaurant bring this on board as it is pretty common in Sf and other culinary hub cities.

Here is a description from the Chef…

Tasting menu will be available Wednesday – Sunday nights, and require whole table participation, with no substitutes, no exceptions, etc. We will be charging $65/person for 7 courses

So far the tasting menu will look something like this:
Bread Service (house daily sourdough)
1. Local sashimi, sunflower/mushroom dashi, mustards in variations
2. Local Crab, Cactus, Sumac
3. ?????
4. Potato Nest, Norinade, Yolk Gel, Herbs, Beer foam
5. Chicken Roulade, Roast Chicken/Whey, puffed wild rice, wild herbs/nz spinach
6. Natal Plum Panna Cotta, Natal Plum Mousse, Honey in Variations
7. Petit Fours (daily selection)
Daily cookies/candy to take home

The tasting menu will change most likely weekly, but not in its entirety, mostly just one or two dishes changing at a time until we find what we are happiest serving. These will not be large plates.
test-dish
Work in progress ~ Crab and sumac dish. (egg yolk will probably not appear on end product)
608 Mission Ave. Oceanside
#food #northcounty #608 #oceanside

Top Choice Fish Market and Eatery Coming Soon ~ Carlsbad

Tip Top Meats is opening a new Seafood Restaurant concept next door to their current location. Looks like it will be a restaurant and fish market.

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No time line yet but they are hiring at the moment if you are interested or know somebody who may be.

“Top Choice Fish – Market and Eatery needs cashiers, servers, food prep and experienced seafood chefs. Apply in person at Tip Top Meats 6118 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad.”

Tip Top is highly regarded as a butcher shop and diner, I would expect nothing less from them in this venture.

#food #carlsbad #northcounty

 

Fish District ~ Carlsbad

So, while I was out at Bressi Ranch in Carlsbad covering Cravory Cookies, I popped in for lunch at Fish District. I had heard good things, and while I would not make it a destination, it is a solid lunch option if you are in the area.

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Fish District ~ 2675 Gateway Road, Carlsbad

Fish District is a small Southern California Chain of about 5 locations specialising, funnily enough, in fish.

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Fish and Chips

I broke the fish so you could see that it was indeed moist and flakey on the inside. I liked the batter it was in between an English beer batter and a Japanese tempura. While not a huge fries guy, the fries were great especially with the addition of malt vinegar.

Because I always want to report on as much as possible I totally over ordered and added a Poke Bowl. I was asked if I wanted the “lunch” portion, I think I thought that meant smaller so I said yes..turns out the opposite is true.

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Poke Bowl ~ Tuna

The Poke bowl was good. The fish was fresh and all the accompaniments were tasty. I think I like the build your own bowl concept better because I like my stuff spicy.

Tip: Avoid prime time lunch hours, the place was packed, as was the parking lot. Service was still good and efficient, but all the little office worker bees were descending on the area for their break.

 

Fish District

2675 Gateway Rd, Carlsbad, CA