Market – Dining with my parents

by Rodzilla on August 10, 2011 · 12 comments


They say California is a more laid back scene, particularly with regard to dining. Jeans have come to be acceptable apparel at the most notable restaurants in LA, and even San Diego’s top spots are quite laid back. However, even California might not be ready for the king of casual – my father. He’s the only professor I’ve ever heard of being mistaken for a homeless man in his own office. Well, that’s aside from his brother (also an academic and in the restaurant business himself) who was gifted a PB+J, socks, and gloves by some mistaken humanitarian last Thanksgiving.

So when my parents came to visit a few weeks back, and I told them I wanted to try out the ever so popular Market, I gave them a bit of background and mentioned it was a nicer spot. Congratulations Chef Schroeder, the acclaim of your restaurant got my dad into a pair of khakis, that’s damn near a Michelin star. But was the experience good enough to knock my socks, or better yet, his sneakers off? 

Bread Selection - Baguette, Corn Muffin

Amuse - Melon and Mizuna Ice

After a mandatory valet, we were seated in the main dining room. The area can be a tad cramped during peak hours, but we never felt uncomfortable. After hearing the evening’s specials we each ordered an appetizer. I was hoping to sample a few items from the sushi menu as well, but was told they were only available at the bar area. Given that the bar is adjacent to the main dining room, making an exception didn’t strike me as that difficult.

That aside, service was satisfactory. Attentive and knowledgeable without being overbearing or rushing. The bread selection was fine but not particularly memorable, though I did like finding full kernels in the cornbread muffins. The amuse arrived next, fresh melon and a tart mizuna ice.

Black Mission Fig & French Melon Salad

My mother’s choice. Prosciutto, Parmesan Reggiano, arugula, grissini, curry vingaigrette. A great example of a classic combo, everything tasted incredibly fresh, though the combination wasn’t exciting enough to order myself.

Baby Beet & Local Citrus Salad

My father’s choice. Beet salads seem to be everywhere these days, but this was a particularly good one. Sweet beets contrasted by the gentle tang of goat cheese and tart grapefruit, the honey glazed walnuts highlighted the sweetness and provided texture.

Local Yellowtail Tartare & Spice Seared Salmon Belly

My appetizer was a duo of seafood presentations. The yellowtail tartare served with coriander crackers was pleasant, but definitely the lesser of the two offerings. I was a much bigger fan spiced salmon served atop a cucumber-soba salad which countered the spice, and lightened the heft from the fattier fish.

Another round of bread and we were on to the mains.

Cabernet Braised Prime Beef Shortribs & Roasted Tomato Tart

My mother’s choice, and thanks to her dainty-dining, my second entree. A duo of beef shortribs served with sweet Corn Saute, haricots vert, onion-potato. On the side was a confit tomato in a phyllo dough shell. This is how a James Beard nominee does comfort food, a deconstructed shepards pie and one of the best beef preparations I’ve had in recent memory. Forget cutting through these with a spoon, I could have cut them with a wet noodle.

Farmers Market Vegetable Tasting

My father’s entree. “Eggplant Pamesan”, corn stuffed tomato, and quinoa-couscous rolls,  with burrata cheese. I didn’t taste this, but was given a good report. I can’t help but feel this was the classic vegetarian option cop-out of mixed appetizers. I would have liked to see a more substantial vegetarian protein option for a main.

Citrus Glazed Maine Dayboat Scallops

My own. The citrus glaze was gentle enough that I could barely tell the sweetness was coming from something other than the scallops themselves. Paired with dragon’s tongue beans,  a sweet corn roast, gai lan, and a yellow taxi tomato emulsion. The emulsion showed the sweeter side of the tomato, and paired well with the inherently sweet scallops. However, the beans felt out of place to me – I think a starchier component would have made the dish a real standout.

Caramels

The a la carte portions were sizable enough for us to pass on dessert, but even our waiter mentioned those were a distant second to the mains. My parents were very pleased, and I was able to both enjoy the food and their company.

As for a more cuisine focused review, the execution of each dish was up there with the best. With such strong fish and meat based proteins, I would have liked to see a more substantial vegetarian option. The menu struck me as safe, inventive enough to be exciting, but traditional enough to cater to the area’s clientele. Like the type of place you might bring your parents, wait a minute..

Thanks for dinner dad, love you.
Market Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robert

Is that really you in the picture? Also Glad you had fun with your dad and the food looked awesome!

2 Lily

I think your father looks hot. I love a good bumblebee colored shoe. Miss you like crazy.

3 Adam

Excellent storytelling Roddy, and nice photos. Safe ot not, the presentation alone makes this look like a good bet, but I’ve got to ask, how does salmon “belly” compare to ‘regular’ salmon?

4 Bobby @ Gourmands Review

The problem with Market is a lot of the items that you had have been on the menu forever. He only slightly tweaks a few things on each dish and calls it a change. Always the same proteins and doesn’t think outside the box. I really don’t like Market and like his other restaurant even less. He always plays it safe and safe only gets you so far.

5 Rodzilla

Robert – The intro should answer your questions

Lily – He’s a handsome guy, I heard his son takes after him.

Adam – thanks my friend – it’s a bit oilier.

Bobby – that’s the feeling I got from my sole visit. I wanted to get across that everything was expertly prepared, I’d just like to see it applied in a few more inventive ways as it’s more to my personal tastes.

6 James

Nice review covering a wide range of dishes.

I agree with you that the vegetable tasting seemed to be a cop out.

I agree with Bobby that while the food might have tasted good, the innovation/ideas around the conception of the dishes is a bit weak. I’d really expect more generally from a James Beard nominated chef.

7 Travis

Rod – Glad you enjoyed your meal. Market is the best restaurant in san diego. with the highest Zagat Ratings in the county. (29/30 in both Service and Food).

Bobby – How many times would you say you have been to market to eat? and also how many times have you been to bankers hill? also, what would you say is the best, or your favorite restaurant in san diego?

8 Rodzilla

Thanks Travis. I don’t think that Market is the best restaurant in San Diego. I’m reluctant to call any “the best”, given the variety, etc. I don’t even think it’s the best in it’s category, certainly among the top and a find place to visit though.

Zagat and others are an okay guide, but they’re hit and miss for me – that’s why I do my own reviews. Based on this visit alone I would put service and ambiance behind that of Georges Modern, and Blanca – it was adequate but lacked the extra warmth/enthusiasm. Precision in cooking I would agree with, you guys are doing an awesome job in the back of the house.

It’s fine to state that you’re an employee – in fact, I think it’s helpful. Nobody is questioning that Chef Schroeder is talented, they would just like to see more from him.

9 Robert

Haha I fail but anyway how ya been? Have you tried ben and jerry’s peanut brittle?

10 Travis

thanks for the kind words. as a cook i think its far fetched for me to be able to control how well our FOH employees do…i would like to think that they are the best in san diego, but i cant have that power in my hands. but it is nice to hear that we are doing a good job in the back. as a young cook (23 y/o) being in that kitchen for 3 years now, id like to think that ive got a good start on my culinary career. and i agree that it is hard to label ANYTHING as the “best” around here… as stoked as i am to say we get outstanding ratings and whatnot, it still hurts to see anyone be unhappy with their experience/meal. i take that shit way too personally…

11 JJG

Rodzilla,

It’s obvious you love your parents, and they deserve it.

12 Kim Valentine

Love this post! :D

People dress even more casual up here, much more than I like.

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