The summer season has begun in San Diego (although there's still a bit of June Gloom on the coastal areas). The days are bright with that signature SoCal sunshine and blue skies, leading many here for vacations, and the locals kicking back for some staycations. One of the best places for a luxury stay is the Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island. Tucked away in a corner of Point Loma, this beautiful marina, hotel, and restaurant is one of the most magnificent, opulent recreational spots in San Diego.
Vessel Restaurant is open to the public, whether they are staying at the resort or just stopping by for dinner. So even if you don't want to stay far from the beach, Vessel is a great option for a lovely dinner. Recently, I had the pleasure of doing a summer preview dinner with beer pairing, to introduce some of the items available to experience this summer. I've enjoyed the two other dinners there, so I was excited to experience the offerings for Summer 2015!
As usual, the decor was breathtaking. The color scheme is blue and gold, the colors of California, with a slight nautical feel to honor the marina feature of the resort.
We started the evening off right with 48-hour pork belly. Crispy on the top, soft and slightly salty on the bottom. Served over a sweet potato spaetzle (a new item on my list of items rarely eaten by Americans), and a smear of dark chocolate, it was an excellent start to our meal. Paired with a Maui Coconut Porter, one of my favorite beers, this course was heaven. Pork and porter? How can you go wrong?
The second may have seemed like a downshift, but it was anything except that. It was simple, but incredible due to the wonderful composition. A roasted pear served with a square of pungent bleu cheese, sprinkled with borage flowers and pepper vinaigrette. The sweetness of the fruit was the perfect antidote to the strongly flavored, rich cheese. This course paired with an Alesmith .394 Pale Ale (another great brew!), and was greatly enjoyed.
Now things were really rolling. Albacore tuna, seared and dusted with bacon powder (!), served with a serrano custard. Have mercy! Seared tuna is one of my favorite things to eat, and putting bacon powder on it just leveled it up to rescuing the girl in Donkey Kong! The serrano custard was a bit sweet, with dried corn on the bottom. It was one of the most unusual things that I've ever eaten. Pairing all of this with a Refuge Blood Orange Belgian ale was nirvana.
I was getting full, and the steak hadn't even arrived. I could not have prepared for this next course, and if I live to be 100, I'll never forget a dry-aged ribeye served with a bordelaise sauce, topped with foie gras butter. As if that wasn't enough decadence, the side dish was bleu cheese popcorn. I die. It was incredibly rich, and just...decadent. So, so delicious. To top things off, it was served with Stone Delicious IPA. It just doesn't get better.
The next course was a confit game hen, served with anise couscous. I was stuffed at this point, but I soldiered on with this beautiful course. The skin was nice and crispy, but the inside was wonderfully tender and flavorful. The couscous was the perfect, simple accompaniment. Paired again with the wonderful .394 Pale Ale, this course was a wonderful way to end the night (we had to leave before dessert).
Summer 2015 is looking to be off to a great start, and hitting up Vessel for a wonderful dinner courtesy of chef Roy Hendrickson would be one of the highlights of a visit to San Diego.