Monday, May 30, 2011

San Diego: Relate Restaurant

It's been about a year since I've dined at a decent restaurant. A few months ago, Hubs and I went on our first tasting since my 31st birthday last year. Relate Restaurant is a temporary restaurant called a "pop-up". This concept is part of a trend in LA and New York where a chef leases space in an existing restaurant to serve their own cuisine for a short amount of time, typically in an unlikely space. Relate is manned by Chef Dan Moody, the sous chef of Pop-Up King, Chef Ludovic Lefebvre. Relate is also San Diego's first pop-up restaurant. I had pretty high expectations since Chef Moody sous cheffed for Chef Lefebvre. At $55 per person for a 5-course tasting, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try something different for a change.

Relate took over evenings at St. Germain's Bistro & Cafe in Encinitas. I haven't been to this place but once we arrived, I knew it was already a poor choice in location. As a San Diegan, we know that restaurants near the ocean tend to be colder at night than other areas of San Diego. When we arrived, almost half of the seats were outdoors. When I approached the maitre d' to check in, I was asked if we wanted to dine inside or outdoors. The seats indoors were taken and it would be another 30 minute wait while the outdoors would be seated immediately. It was the beginning of February and it was cold as hell outside. We opted for indoors and ended up waiting for 45 minutes to eat.

By the time we were seated, I told Hubs if the food sucked, I would treat him to a Double Double at In-N-Out. Here's what we had.

"French Onion Soup"

Bacon Fried Egg, Potato Rosti, Baby Lettuce, Sherry Vinaigrette

Grilled Octopus, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Burnt Red Bell Pepper, Lemon, Oregano

Sauteed Local Redrock, Vadouvan Beets, Coconut Curry Hollandaise, Fried Spinash Salad

Spiced Beef, Spanish Avocado Puree, Crispy Porcini Spaetzle, Green Flash Double Stout Gastrique

Chocolate Terrine, Green Cardamom "Creme Brulee"

After the meal, Hubs and I were pleasantly surprised that the meal was pretty good. The stand outs were the French onion soup, grilled octopus and redrock. Service throughout the night was unacceptable but that's what you would expect from a temporary restaurant. At times, I thought dishes were being flung at me and sometimes the plating was completely off (or almost falling off the plate). Other than that, it was a descent meal and I would give it a chance if another location was selected. Perferable inland or downtown.