George’s California Modern

Dinner – Saturday, August 29, 2015

When we moved from Chicago to San Diego five years ago, we had over eight months to prepare. Now, as I write this, we find ourselves (somewhat unexpectedly) thrust into the next part of our journey with barely a month’s notice. We didn’t know it during our dinner, but this TBL3 will likely be our last for a good, long time (likewise, this post itself is my last from San Diego) – not a bad punctuation mark to cap off all the memories we’ve accumulated in this fair city since 2010. Trey Foshee and his team have never disappointed us, and the photos below describe a meal that still places George’s California Modern at the peak of San Diego’s restaurant scene – I will let them do the talking. Onwards and upwards, to George’s and to us.

Baja stone crab
Lemon thyme, local mango, Northern Divine caviar

Tai snapper
Asian pear, papalo, toasted rice, lemon ash

Wow! Top-quality fish, an incredible array of textures, and the combination of char and acid from the lemon oil/ash was fantastic. Really great as an opener – one of our favourite dishes of the evening.

Chino Farms fig
Shiso, finger lime, leche de tigre, almond

If our trip to Peru last year taught us anything, it’s that everybody has a different recipe for leche de tigre. Here, the tiger’s milk was built on a base of seafood and coconut milk, with strong hits of citrus and chili. The sweetness of the figs married nicely with the considerable spiciness of the broth – I loved this.

San Diego spot prawn roll
Nori brioche, fried shallots, celery

Grilled California avocado
Chino Farms watermelon, purslane, ponzu, avocado leaf matcha

Another dish that successfully highlighted textures and acids. Crisp yellow watermelon sat atop a ring of grilled avocado, which had been inlaid with toasted quinoa and farro. This wreath swam in a refreshing watermelon-ponzu broth – a perfect tonic for the summer heat. Very impressive balance throughout.

Chino Farms eggplant
Fresh ricotta, basil seed, heirloom tomatoes

Oregon summer truffles, cured egg yolk, uni

Sous-chef Masa Kojima is making ramen in-house, and it’s pretty darn good – the noodles have that alkaline goodness, and in this case, a thickness that matches their (uni) sauce nicely. It was just a pity that the truffles weren’t showing at their best.

Local tuna
Koji, shelling beans, lobster-bacon dashi, sea bean chimichurri

My top course on this night. The fish was seriously amazing – chock full of flavour and (surprisingly) meltingly tender. Combined with the umami-laden broth and accoutrements… it blew me away. Teetering on the edge of overkill, but the kitchen really pulled a rabbit out of the hat on this one.

Chino Farms fresh corn grits
Red-eye vegetable gravy, squash blossoms, lambs quarter

Niman Ranch pork bo ssam
Hoja santa, radish, kimchi

Wagyu ribeye
Sunchoke, wasabi root, chanterelles, shishito, bone marrow vinaigrette

Aloe sorbet
Finger lime, Chino Farms strawberry nectar

Lime pavlova
Cucumber, elderflower, coconut sorbet

Saturday, the night of our meal, capped off a week of oppressively warm weather. This dessert seemed purpose-built to counter the unseasonable heat. A pat of creamy lime curd anchored the coconut sorbet, and balls of cucumber compressed with elderflower lent a herbal tinge. Quite delicious.

Matsutake affogato
Reindeer lichen, vanilla bean madeleines

Hot espresso was poured over a quenelle of matsutake ice cream. While I always love an affogato, we weren’t able to pick up much in the way of mushrooms – the coffee dominated. An interesting idea that I’d like to see them tweak.

Jasmine, raspberry, lemon, mezcal, sassafras

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