Best Things I Ate This Month: February 2016
Beet Steak at La Valencia, Superfood Bowl at Little Lion, Sandwich at Biga
Beet Steak @ La Valencia
If you haven’t been to La Valencia lately, time to check back in. Executive chef James Montejano is doing good work over there, and they’re revamping the look and feel of Café La Rue. I attended a recent vegan dinner there with six of the top chefs from the area—Dreux Ellis (Café Gratitude), Hanis Cavin (Carnitas Snack Shack, yes, at a vegan dinner), Davin Waite (Wrench & Rodent), Montejano, Alex Emery (Hilton Bayfront) and Leslie Durso (vegan cookbook author).
The entire meal was pretty fantastic, benefiting local do-gooder food group, Berry Good Food Foundation. But the star of the meal was Emery’s “Beet Steak”—in which he roasted his beets in traditional beef spices (coriander, etc.), and created a great meaty, outer crust on it using miso and white soy, a little fermented tomato and horseradish snow for bite. Emery is a banquet chef at Hilton. Maybe a good reason to throw a party there and taste more of his food.
La Valencia, 1132 Prospect St., La Jolla
Superfood Bowl @ Little Lion
I’d heard about Little Lion for a while, especially noteworthy because of the family heritage. The girls are the youngest of the Coulon family, which has produced Michele Coulon Dessertier and Nathan Coulon, exec chef of True Food Kitchen. But it took me moving to Ocean Beach to discover it. And man, what a gem. The chef Anne-Marie staged (interned) at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse. Interning is helpful, but not exactly a hefty resume. The proof of the talent is in her food, which shows the Panisse ethos of sourcing phenomenal ingredients and treating them just enough without overdoing it. Like her Superfood Bowl—quinoa with black beans, avocado, whatever veggies are fresh, flax seeds and a lemon-herb vinaigrette. The kale was sauteed perfectly and simply in olive oil, and everything on the plate tasted proudly of itself (too many vegetarian entrees try to mask ingredients with nut butters and the like). Excited to go back to my new neighborhood favorite.
1424 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Ocean Beach
Sandwich @ Biga
Well, this is a surprise. When visiting the San Diego Magazine offices to edit our upcoming cocktail feature, I got hungry. Editor-in-chief Erin Meanley suggested “this new sandwich place down the street.” And sure enough, Biga is relatively very good. Run by a former CIA grad Tae Dickey, it’s got a host of rustic Italian offerings, including this sandwich made with their pizza bread. It came with prosciutto, coppa, caramelized onions and arugula, served with a pesto aioli (you can also choose sundried tomato tapenade, tomato sauce or a bagna cauda). Definitely worth a visit.
950 6th Ave., Downtown