Monday, January 10, 2011

George's at The Cove, La Jolla - catering to both fine diners and kids

The best type of family trips are the ones where both parent and child are off doing the things that they each like. So for my dad's Christmas present, I paid for his green fees at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, San Diego. While he played golf at the world famous course (and more importantly, brag to his friends about it), I got to catch a surf session at Scripps while my sister took her son to Sea World.

I knew a bit about the dining scene in La Jolla and there were a few restaurants that I was leaning towards (Marine Room, George's) but unfortunately with a kid in tow, our options were limited. I was resigned to dinner at a diner of some sort. I let out a big sigh as we passed George's at The Cove and my sister suggested we just go in and ask them if they were a "kid-friendly" restaurant.

George's at the Cove is an oceanfront restaurant with three restaurants on each level. The bottom floor is the fine dining section, the middle houses the bar and the top restaurant is the Ocean Terrace, offering outdoor seating overlooking the ocean. Both George's Bar and Ocean Terrace offer the same casual bistro menu, while the first floor signature restaurant features a fine dining modern Californian menu. Naturally, I had my eye on the latter.

They were able to offer us a table without reservations. Upon our request, they tried to accommodate us with a table that was situated in the corner, in case my nephew acted up at dinner. Thankfully, he was very well behaved.

Not only are they kid friendly, but the hostess also provided Wikki Stix for my nephew to entertain himself with.

The menu offers many seasonal specialties and was surprisingly very reasonably priced.

Likewise, they had a good selection of wine by the glass which was not pricey.

Pipeline Porter from Kona Brewing Company had a deep rich chocolate essence.
Pear Blossom Cocktail (Jasmine Pearl infused Vodka, lemongrass, ginger, candied orange zest, pear) was made with fresh ingredients.

Warm bread was served with butter, cayenne salt, pepper and ground sea salt

Side of fries for the boy, which everyone at the table helped themselves to. Apparently they could also offer their popular chicken strips and fries from the Terrace menu.

Braised Colorado Lamb Shank with butternut squash risotto, sweet onion raisin relish, feta salse verde
The gorgeous and massive lamb shank was fork tender and flavorful. The accompaniments really took this dish to another level. I really appreciate the chef utilizing seasonal ingredients and offering a nice spin on a classic risotto side. The onion relish was sweet and played well with the saltiness of the sauce. I am not a feta fan but my sister insisted I had to try the dish with feta and I agreed that the sharpness of the cheese really enhanced the flavor of the dish.

Local Yellowtail, carrot-miso puree, bok choy, tangerine butter
In all honesty, I wasn't too excited about this dish. I was expecting slices of seared yellowtail, Japanese style. George's version utilized a thicker cut of fish, which was cooked perfectly. The fish was grilled on the exterior and seared. I was very impressed with how flaky and tender the fish was. I thought the plating was eye popping with all the bright and vibrant vegetable color combination. This dish was light yet it didn't leave you hungry, something that one expects from Californian cuisine.

Niman Pork Chop, soft polenta, bacon braised mustard greens, honey ginger glazed cippolini onions, persimmon salad
The worse thing that can happen to pork is if it's overcooked and dry. Despite being a thicker cut, the pork chop was juicy and tender. Food can tend to continue cooking even after it's served and I sometimes find that a tender piece can usually dry out by the last bite. Amazingly, even the last bite of the pork chop was moist. The meat was also very well seasoned and the creamy polenta and braised greens tasted just like home cooking.

The portions were rather filling but we managed to squeeze room for one dessert to share.

Vietnamese Affogato, espresso, condensed milk ice cream, vanilla bean mochi, cinnamon fritters
An affogato is an Italian dessert that comprises of hot espresso and gelato. I liked the Asian spin on the dessert. The condensed milk ice cream was rich but surprisingly silky and light in texture. The mochi added a texture to the affogato. I really enjoyed the freshly prepared churros which was very rich and oily, but in a good way.

I was really impressed with George's. The food was very well executed, and I appreciated the use of seasonal, fresh ingredients. I liked the sides that were served with the entrees as they weren't ordinary or generic. I was also very pleased with the service. The host and waiters were all very professional, yet warm and friendly. We were also grateful that the service was fast but didn't seem rushed. That last thing a restaurant or diner would want is a tired, grumpy three year old. George's is a perfect blend of sophisticated yet approachable dining. The dishes were very strong, yet the prices were not outrageous and the service was welcoming. And a restaurant that has toys on hand to entertain children is a winner in my books.

Hits: service, food, view
Misses: nothing
Rating: ***

George's at the Cove
1250 Prospect St.,
La Jolla, California 92037
(858) 454-4244


Anonymous said...

It's really great to go out and eat with the kids in a place where they're also welcome and accommodated. Thanks. By the way, if you like something new and exciting to the taste, try some of the best dishes from different restaurants just near you. Thanks and happy eating!

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