These next two are both good choices for dining in the Gaslamp Quarter:
We loved the location of our restaurant the following night, Currant Brasserie, an “ooh-la-la” Parisian/American bistro, since it’s the featured restaurant at the newly renovated Sophia Hotel, where we were lucky enough to be staying!
This smallish restaurant makes the most of its space with soaring 17-foot ceilings, vintage chandeliers draped with bling, ornate Louis XVI style furnishings playing nicely with the classic Black & White tiled floor. About 30 seats are offered alfresco which is the perfect place to take advantage of their daily bargain-priced happy hour (4:00-6:00) offering artisanal cheese plates and a glass of wine, each only $5.00. However, you might want to cough up an extra dollar and share some of their addictive Truffled Popcorn.
Chef Jonathan Pflueger has long been a San Deigo fave, and those folks are thrilled that he’s back home after a stint at New York’s venerable Russian Tea Room. Perhaps that’s where he got the inspiration for the luscious beet salad with horseradish cream and onion straws. The Beer steamed little-neck clams with chorizo arrived swimming in a nicely spiced red-chile pesto broth, perfect for double-dipping our bread into. I tried the Chef’s special that night which was an embarrassment of culinaryriches….spiny lobster, crispy sweetbreads layered over a generous portion of foie gras. The kitchen struck out however, with the Roasted Jidori Chicken and warm Tuscan Bread Salad. Flabby, undercooked and flavorless, they could really use a tutorial on this dish, or else just check out the delectable recipe in Judy Rodgers “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook��?
Our servers could not be sweeter or more attentive and the place is a lot of fun, but be prepared to shout to make yourself heard over the roar of enthusiastic diners.
140 W Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar
Ingrid Croce decided to open this unpretentious restaurant in honor of her late husband, singer Jim Croce, ( famous for chart toppers like Time in a Bottle and Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.) This lively spot in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter is a good choice for contemporary American food, people-watching, and listening to some great live jazz . Word has it that the late performer’s son (now known in his own right),might stop in to play a set.
Croce’s was packed to the gills when we arrived for dinner, and everyone was having a good time. Much as I liked the place, I still found it hard to believe when the wife of the couple seated next to us leaned over and conspiratorially told me that they were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary and that her husband had offered her either a 2 week Greek cruise or dinner at Croce’s. Right at that moment Ingrid (what a dynamo–she knew everything that was going on in that restaurant) happened to be walking by and overheard and said with a giggle, “Why don’t you offer to pay for this dinner and then let him take you on the cruise, too?”
Our dinner got off to a rip-roaring start with an excellent Ahi Poke, tossed with mango, green onions and ginger, and served with house made taro chips, as well as one of the best salads of the week, Duck Confit Salad tossed with baby arugula, cranberries, blood orange and candied pecans in a vibrant citrus vinaigrette, (easily large enough for two)
A generous portion of Grilled Swordfish with a zippy Mediterranean Green Olive Tapenade, toasted orzo, wilted spinach and red pepper coulis followed which was very tasty except that it was overcooked. The Meyer Lemon Glazed Salmon,(also slightly overcooked) resting on seafood scallion pancakes, braised bok choy with a ginger orange sauce topped with micro cilantro was crying out for the addition of something from the crispy/crunchy family to liven things up.
The Seasonal Crisp with fresh fruit and berries and vanilla ice cream was perfectly sweetened but again I had that textural problem since the crisp, while tasty was definitely not crispy.
Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz bar
802 5th Avenue
San Diego, Ca. 92101