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Taste Test: Sea Rocket Bistro

North Park eatery Sea Rocket Bistro, first opened in 2008, is experiencing a boost in buzz and renewed interest thanks to the addition of executive chef and part-owner Chad White, a veteran of both the Navy and local restaurant kitchens, including the sadly-defunct Roseville in Point Loma.

The restaurant, which has always taken great care when choosing its ingredients, is still singularly focused on locally produced and harvested food, including craft beer, produce, and sustainable seafood—from local sea urchin to sardines—which they continue to source directly from area fishermen. White is also a frequent fixture at Catalina Offshore Products, where the young chef hand-selects the freshest fish to be featured nightly on his specials board, from seared fish filets served with seasonal vegetables to whole fish simply grilled. 

Dishes are more assertively-prepared and chef-driven, and many incorporate housemade elements—from the homemade gnocchi, which serves as a bed for Baja shrimp sautéed in garlic butter, to the skate sausage that seasons wine-y Carlsbad Aquafarm clams and the bacon jam, sweetened with dates, that tops the grass fed beef burger. 

Though the location still has its challenges—limited parking, an oddly broken-up dining room, and poor ventilation in their open kitchen—White and his fellow partners, Dennis Stein and Elena Rivellino, are hoping that the recent adjustments made, in both the front and back of house, along with the launch of a brunch service, will encourage eaters to revisit the space and give Sea Rocket another shot. 

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