Do you San Diegans know? There is a grand total of one restaurant in all of Southern California that has both AAA five diamonds and Forbes five stars? That restaurant is Addison at the Grand Del Mar. Until this week I had never gone. But I am about to get a couple of bonuses and I just accepted a job offer. So it was time to celebrate and, I decided, time to try out Addison.
I had never experienced this kind of fine dining and I didn't know what the experience would be like. Let's see what I learned.
Is it truly a different experience than a very good restaurant (that costs 1/3 the price)?
Yes.. With every course we enjoyed an incredible blend of flavors. For example, one course featured king crab. The taste of the (perfectly cooked) crab was on full display. The crab was enhanced by the other ingredients and sauces to create a wonderfully complex blend. I've experienced this at other restaurants, yes. But it is uncommon. Many restaurants may be tasty but they accomplish that with an abundance of salt and little nuance.
At Addison I got course after course like this crab.
Would I be wierded out by the super-high touch service?
A little.. I feel weird at all sit-down restaurants. I don't love the servant role put on by the, well, servers. I prefer walking up to a counter and being sold something that I go and eat.
That said, it's actually less weird at a high end place like this. Because it feels like they are trying to create an experience for you rather than upselling me/patronizing me for tips. As a bonus, the highly choreographed plate-serving was pretty comical, especially at the neighboring table with a party of 7. I enjoyed that.
Would the food be "too French" for me?
this pork was not too French even with all those sauces
No.. It has happened to me before. I try a nice French restaurant and the cremes and the sauces were just too much. The tastes were too... creamy and I didn't end up enjoying it. At Addison I never felt that way. I did feel really full when I left though which brings me to...
Will a bunch of tiny courses fill me up?
Yes.. It's a comedy cliche that you go to a expensive restaurant, pay a fortune, and are served a huge plate with a tiny amount of food. And then you get a hamburger on the way home. Not here. I was quite full when I left. Too full in fact but I think I'm just not used to such creamy food.
a tiny course of a candied kumquat, rhubarb, and raspberry.
Could I enjoy courses with exotic ingredients?
Yes.. Well for me, a midwesterner who grew up not eating seafood, raw oysters are pretty exotic. I've come a long way but I am not a regular oyster eater. These were delicious.
Can they make ingredients I typically don't like good?
Yes.. I am a mushroom hater. I'm pretty sure they exist mostly to ruin pizzas. But I gave the creminis a try and whatever was done to them by the magicians at Addison worked for me.
Would Christine enjoy it?
Yes.. I had no idea what to expect in terms of her reaction. Would the finance person in her feel that no food is worth this price? Would something less obvious rear its head? In one of my favorite moments of the evening she declared that she was giving up all other hobbies in order to become a full-time foodie. I'd say she approved.
Would I want to go back considering the cost?
Yes.. The prior answer gives this one away. We came away with an experience we will remember. How valuable is that? We will return one day.
Which was my favorite course?
The salmon.. Amazing!
The fish on the right was perfectly cooked and enhanced with the glaze and the pea-based sauce. The sweet, thin crackers on the left contained a delicious smoked salmon.
Which course was my least favorite?
The weakest course for me was the peanut butter dessert. I am pretty discriminating when it comes to my desserts. To me the peanut butter flavor overwhelmed the rest.
not only that, the photo came out extra dark
Luckily I requested a second dessert course rather than the cheese course. Why anyone would do otherwise is beyond me! The extra dessert was a pot de creme. Think creme bulee but without the burnt top and more delicious.
Did anything surprise me?
Yes.. The pace of the courses was so well done. We finish one course, the plates are removed, there is the briefest of pauses and the next one comes out. This happened without fail. It was amazing that when we finished more than two hours had passed.
Did they do anything above and beyond that really stood out?
Yes.. As we were finishing up we were invited to go see the kitchen and meet the head chef. Just some guy who's won award after award. I'm sure has nothing better to do than say hello to us, right?
This celebration occurred the day I sent my signed offer letter in to my new company. It was a beautiful evening and I hope an auspicious introduction to my new job.