Sunday, February 28, 2010

San Diego: Grant Grill

On our last night in San Diego, we headed out to San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter for dinner at Grant Grill, located in the lobby of the US Grant Hotel in the Gaslamp District.  I think, if we hadn't had an amazing dinner at whisknladle the night before, we probably both would have been slightly happier with the meal.  As it was, dinner at Grant Grill was...fine, but definitely suffered by comparison to whisknladle with regard to the food, service and price.

Lobby of the US Grant Hotel

Click below to see what we ate!

My first thought walking into the restaurant was that we were the youngest diners in the restaurant by at least 30 years.  I felt like that didn't bode well for the meal, and it turns out, I was kinda right.  Nevertheless, the decor was nice, modern and fun.
The meal started off with an amuse bouche of rare, seared beef and pickled Savoy cabbage.  I love it when a restaurant sends out an amuse, but this was pretty blah, really bland with a sort of thrown-together feeling about it.

Seared rare beef with pickled Savoy cabbage

We were also served a complimentary pan of freshly baked, herb-topped focaccia.  I really enjoyed the warm, crusty-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside bread; it might of been my favorite part of the meal. 

House-made focaccia

With the fantastic egg-topped salad from the previous night still fresh in our memories, we decided to order the soft-poached egg appetizer, with pancetta, creamed spinach, and caramelized onion.  It was good, one of the better dishes of the meal, but not even close to as good as the whisknladle salad.  Nevertheless, the egg was nicely poached, and I liked the combination of the creaminess of the spinach and the sweetness of the onions.  The crispy pancetta added a good textural contrast.

Soft poached egg with pancetta, creamed spinach and caramelized onions

We also order the "spiced" pork belly appetizer, with consomme, vermicelli, savoy cabbage, pearl onions, and chanterelle mushrooms.  The dish was a disappointment - while the pork belly was fairly tender, the presentation was sloppy and unattractive, and every element of the dish was underseasoned.  It also seemed like kind of a weird combination of ingredients.

Spiced pork belly

For my entree, I ordered the venison.  I can't remember what came on the side with the meat (and it's not listed on the website), but the venison was pretty perfectly cooked and well-seasoned. 


Mark ordered the Niman pork tenderloin, with ricotta dumplings, trotter hash, and heirloom apples.  The pork was relatively juicy, and I liked that the ricotta dumplings had a good crust to them.  However, there was nothing special about the dish whatsoever, and Mark seemed to prefer my venison.

Niman pork tenderloin

At this point, we were a little underwhelmed by the meal overall, so we decided to skip dessert at the restaurant (we ended up grabbing gelato and crepes at a cute little cafe down the street).  While it's not the worst meal I've ever had, or even a bad meal, it was definitely overpriced.  In addition, the service wasn't that great, as there were long stretches of time when we didn't see our server.  Next time I'm in San Diego, I think I'll try something new...

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