Sunday, March 24, 2013

Heat Bar & Kitchen

I no longer live there, but there is something about Hillcrest that continually draws me back. Perhaps it’s the neat little shops and the lure of a Trader Joe’s, but I think that it is more likely due to the bevy of great restaurants housed in this neighborhood. Hillcrest has long been a destination for San Diego foodies with the many multi-cultural restaurants serving up Thai, Chinese, Indian, Greek, and good ol’ American food.

A new kind of restaurant is slowly emerging, taking its cues from Europe, with a small menu composed of only fresh ingredients, an ever-changing menu based on what is in season, and creative spins on dressing and preparing food. Heat is the latest addition to this new crop of restaurants, and boy, is it good!

The inside is small and chic, but the friendliness of the staff shushes any worry about not being “cool enough” to dine here. This is Hillcrest, remember! Everyone is friendly! The back deck offers a little more space for relaxation and enjoying the California sunshine.

The menu is very small, but each thing is executed with style and care, including a very carefully curated wine list.

To start, we decided on an order of their homemade potato chips. I’ve never eaten such a thing outside of a bag, so I was curious. How would gourmet potato chips taste? The answer, quite good, freshly made, thinly cut, and garnished with sprite gray sea salt. These are quite rich, and would be perfect to share at a happy hour.

For our main courses, we chose the stuffed pork chop special: a thick-cut chop stuffed with roasted garlic, served with broccolini on the side; and the grilled salmon, served with potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts.

The salmon was very good, and not overcooked at all (people always seem to overcook fish!), and the brussel sprouts were served with the crispy skins as well as the soft centers separated. Very satisfying and good, but the pork chop was the star of the night! Juicy and thick, with plenty of garlicky flavor and a peppery cream sauce, this dish made me think twice about something as mundane as a simple pork chop. This dish was positively gourmet!

For dessert, we were served a flambéed chocolate mousse with graham cracker and marshmallow topping, and the homemade vanilla bean gelato. The chocolate mousse was reminiscent of a s’more, but had a gourmet twist to make it so much more than a childhood scouting treat. The chocolate was rich and decadent, and the flambéed marshmallow was a perfect foil to balance out the richness of the chocolate.

The gelato, was, I must say, my favorite. The taste was so pure and the freshness of the gelato was incredible! This is what comes of homemaking everything fresh! The quality and care was incredibly evident when tasting this masterpiece. The taste was sweet, but not cloying at all. Unlike most other vanillas, this one needed no special trimmings or dressing up, and the simplicity of the basic vanilla was honored and celebrated.

Certainly worth another visit!

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March 24, 2013 / by / 1 Comments

1 comment:

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