Evolve Cuisine – San Diego Tribute

by Rodzilla on May 3, 2012 · 13 comments

When the major criticism of the evening has to do with the naming of a dish rather than it’s taste, I would say that’s a pretty good sign that the Evolve Cuisine team is doing something right. So right from the beginning I’ll tell you this was another successful event. If that’s all you needed to read to get you to one of the next events, you can stop reading now. But if you came for pictures and prose, I’ve got that too.This menu was described as, “a modern tribute to the classic cuisine of America’s finest city”. To start Servers came by providing a 3 different amuses each prepared by a different member of the Evolve team.

Green Strawberry White Balsamic Gelee

Prawn Ceviche

Tempura Beef Shank - Chile, Mustard

My favorite was the tempura beef shank from Sheena Villegas. I thought of it as a nod to San Diego’s many Japanese eateries where patrons are given chicken karaage to start the meal. So if you like that type of fried chicken – try fried beef. The additional sweet mustard and mild spice from chili threads made this a opening bite one that I’ll remember for some time.

Uni - Flan, Gonads, Uni Sugar, Pineapple,

Our first comprised dish was the favorite of many. Along with a fresh piece of local San Diego urchin, each component carried some essence of the delicately briny, sweet flavor.

Roasted Corn Broth, Cabbage crusted Wahoo, Crema Spheres

What was originally going to be yellowtail ended up being a a great piece of Wahoo (an even better choice for a play on fish tacos). What made the dish for me was semi-spicy guacamole moderated by a cool crema sphere, and additional crunch from the radish chip. Another one that many called favorite.

Bacon Cheeseburger - Brioche, Grassfed Beef, Eazy Cheese

The smell of this dish immediately brought a Big Mac to mind, and I mean that in the most fondly nostalgic way. My best guess as to where that came from is the horseradish/white cheddar mixture inside the brioche giving me a sense of special sauce. Conceptually, I think this may have been the best dish of the night.

Pomegranate Mojito Sundae

Our intermezzo was another palate annihilator from Mike Yen. I thought the cuisine was involved, until I got the ingredient list for this cocktail. You will will wipe palate clean with one of these, and you’ll have fun doing it.

Cali Burrito - Shrimp Fries, Fizzy Tomato, Potato

This course was the naming controversy I alluded to earlier. Apparently you HAVE TO HAVE CARNE ASADA in order for it to be a California Burrito. After tasting, I wouldn’t have cared if it had been called spaghetti & meatballs, it was still my favorite. I’ll take a tortilla filled with Barron’s cilantro potato espuma and crispy shrimp against any filled with carne asada and fries. Shoot me.

Short Rib - 72 Hour Sous Vide Beef Cheek, Flank threads, Smoked Tomato, (Matt Gordon collaboration)

The short rib was collaboration with a dish created Matt Gordon. My personal preference is still for Matt’s more traditional prep, but a number of diners noted just how similar the flavors were to the beef cheeks being served at Urban Solace. A worthy dedication, just not a replacement.

Cupcake - Chocolate, Raspberry, Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

The final dish was…a cupcake? After having Chef Jeff Bonilla’s dessert be a highlight of the last event, I was fucking furious a bit let-down to be presented with a standard cupcake. Luckily, it was only a joke and the initial disappointment only heightened my feelings for the actual dish.

Real "Cupcake"

The cupcake proper had a similar composition to my last Bonilla Dessert. My favorite components this time being the chocolate cremeux, raspberry sorbet, and the tiny Bunch-a-Crunch like chocolate spheres.
Marking their territory
The food is good. It’s inventive, fun, and most importantly tasty. But aside from  cooking technique, what really distinguishes Evolve Cuisine events is the atmosphere they provide. The food is refined, but there’s no pretension. The same people making the dishes are serving them, and if your dining companions weren’t already your friends at the beginning of the evening, they likely will be by the time you leave. I’m really enthusiastic about what the Evolve team is doing, and can only see them getting bigger and better.

*Thanks to all of my dining companions, especially Gastrobits for his elaborate note taking and dorky-ass endearing fascination with superheros.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James

A great, well written review as usual! It was great sitting with everyone at our table and I thought the company was as good as the meal.
I can’t wait for the next Evolve event that we attend together! I guess we might be hitting up a place before that though, eh?

2 Chuck

Ha, that’s hysterical about the cupcake. Tell me more about Evolve–are you affiliated with them or is the shop you work at? Everything looks amazing- as Max said on Twitter, I wish there was somewhere like that around here. And that bacon cheeseburger do look amazing.

3 Rodzilla

James – for sure my man.

Chuck – haha thanks, and thanks for reading. No affiliation, and I’m no longer working there. I don’t think these events are in any danger of stopping so if you get out this way there will likely be an event going on.

4 kevinEats

“America’s finest city?” I’d have a hard time swallowing that.

5 Pavlov

Yup, F’king loved the cupcake! I’d be like…ok, love the cupcake, but I’m a little dissapointed there was no string cheese or Pop Tarts anywhere in the previous dishes! Nicely done Roddy…

6 chefprotoss

You’re getting good at this roddy. Seriously.

7 James

@kevin – that is just the “nickname” for San Diego – similar how LA is the “City of Angels,” “Tinseltown,” etc.

8 donuts4dinner

Um, yes. All of it. Mostly the Big Mac. And the corn broth. Also the cupcake, no matter what you say.

9 kirbie

I really want to try that uni dish. I really need to make the next dinner. So sad I haven’t been able to make any yet.

10 Andrew

Great review! That uni dish looks really good, and I am seriously craving some.

11 Peggy

This was my first time to an event like this and I must say it was a blast! The food was so creative and delicious, and listening to all you foodies rave over the presentations was fun. Hope to go to another pop up again!

12 Rodzilla

Kev – you’re not getting down here often enough then!

Chef – thanks for the words, and for the use of your Big Mac review. I know this isn’t your type of cooking, but I think you would have still enjoyed a few ;)

Katie – lol, people actually started swooning over how good the cupcake was which only added to my anger. It was good – still a cupcake.

Kirbie – II hope that Barron is making note of the most popular dishes from each event for a “best of{ down the line. I have to assume this would make the cut.

Andrew – Thanks my man! That’s one of the many great things about San Diego – the uni is always fresh

Peggy – A great one to start with! I’m glad you made it out, it was great meeting you.

13 chefprotoss

Actually I dig this place. Well from reading about it anyway. In my experience, a lot of “over the top, deconstructed etc…” food sucks. These guys are having fun and doing it right. As a chef, I typically shun that kind of stuff because I have seen so much pretty, nice to look at mediocrity. My goal is to figure out the perfect braised lamb shank, expand on classic Escoffierian dishes etc… I am kind of rebelling against my peers haha.

Just wanted to give some insight into my drawn out comments =P

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