With San Diego Restaurant Week in full swing, there are again no Santee restaurants participating, but several nearby La Mesa area eateries are offering great pre-fixe meals for discounted prices.
There are a half dozen favorites participating in the popular dining event, including:
Anthony's Fish Grotto
Casa de Pico
Hooley's Irish Pub
The Vine Cottage
A companion and I went to Gingham for dinner and were delighted at the choices on the menu. You can see the restaurant's full dinner and lunch menus on their website.
For the first course, I had the paquillo peppers stuffed with pulled pork, and topped with a bacon-infused mayonaise and grated pecorino cheese. Phenomenal. Served in a hot cast iron dish, there was not one dominant flavor. Instead, the sweet peppers married with the saltiness and creaminess of the cheese and sauce. And who doesn't love pulled pork to add a smokey element to the dish.
My companion opted for the greens salad, which featured toasted candied almonds, goat cheese and fresh seasonal fruits, topped with a champagne vinagrette. She said it was light and refreshing, but also hearty.
For the entree, she ordered swordfish served with mashed potatoes and a menagerie of fresh vegetables (heirloom tomatoes, roasted beets and local squash. The fish was topped with a tomato-based chimichurri sauce that added a blast of herbs and spices. I tried a bit of it and it was definitely unlike any chimichurri that I've tasted before.
I stayed on the pork train for my entree and ordered the pork "porterhouse," an enormously thick cut pork chop. It was also served with mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and a chargrilled peach half. The chop was cooked medium and was incredibly tender and juicy, with a great char on the outside. The peach was a bit firm, but had wonderful char marks, adding a bit of smokiness to the otherwise sweet fruit. But the star of the dish was the peach agave BBQ sauce that came with the chop. Truth be told, I could have done with double the amount on my plate, it was so good. The sauce was a mysterious blend of sweet, tart and spicy, providing a bit of an identity crisis, but in an amazing way.
The portions were very large, and after our entrees, we were nearly stuffed to the brim, but who doesn't want dessert after a meal like that?
The restaurant offers two choices for its dinner dessert menu: a candy bar cake, and a lemon meringue cake.
Of the two, we liked the candy bar cake best, and it's not just a clever name. It tastes exactly like a candy bar, with layers of devils food cake mixed with alternating layers of peanut butter mousse and a salted caramel frosting. Simply delightful, especially for those who enjoy rich, decadent desserts.
The lemon meringue cake was also good, but be warned, it is ultra lemony. I'm talking lemon on lemon on lemon. For those who are a fan of the citrus, I'd go for that, a poppy seed cake layered with lemon mousse and topped with toasted meringue.
The dinner meal is $30 per person and does not include drinks, tax, or gratuity. And it is well worth it. The lunch menu may actually be a better value, as it is $15 per person for a large salad, a choice of six different sandwiches served with fresh cut fries, and a dessert.
Unlike some other restaurants participating in San Diego Restaurant Week, Gingham is offering the deals thru Friday, and extending it into next week as well, through Friday, Sept. 28.