George’s California Modern
George’s at the Cove
1250 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92039
Dining date: 6/16/13
My brother graduated from UC San Diego this past weekend. While searching for restaurants for a graduation dinner, George’s was #1 on my list. Sure – its La Jolla location, just a few miles from campus, was a plus, but my family has never shied away from traveling a bit for a good meal. I’ve been hearing good things about chef Trey Foshee’s cuisine for a couple years now and have had a growing urge to make a visit. I think we made the right choice; we had a beautiful and delicious celebratory dinner here.
Given the restaurant is just off the water, there are sensational views of the ocean and sunset. However, the downside was that half of our party (those facing the sun) were somewhat blinded for a portion of the meal.
While George’s at the Cove offers a couple of different dining options (the more casual Ocean Terrace upstairs and California Modern downstairs), there are even more options within each sub-concept. TBL3’s weekday-only, reservation-only tasting menu represents the truest expression of Chef Foshee’s interpretation of California cuisine. Requiring less planning, a six-course tasting menu is offered daily ($120), as is a four-course a la carte ($72). Given we had a party of 7, the flexibility of the a la carte option suited us best.
Campechana local fluke, razor clams, spot prawn, cucumber, avocado
This dish was beautiful. And it was delicious too, with a variety of cool, raw seafood complemented by an uni-based sauce. I appreciated the refreshing nature of this dish, as well as the subtle nuances in sweetness and texture from fish to fish. Really nice.
Foshee’s take on this classic San Diego dish was, of course, not typical. Slices of yellowfin tuna, accented by ground corn nuts, played the role of ‘tortilla,’ while tuna tartare, fried avocado and the chef’s version of a crema rounded out the bites. All the expected flavors were here but in a different, lighter way.
Chino Farms “Corn Pudding” grilled onion relish, porcinis, Dungeness crab, smoked lemon
As strong as the other starters were, this may have been my favorite. The interplay of sweet corn and sweet crab was an excellent one; they really played off of each other well. The onions and porcini mushrooms added much of the depth, while a touch of this smoked lemon helped to brighten everything up.
Purple Salad saba mustard
My mother went the vegetable route, enjoying this salad’s lesson in textures and bright flavors.
Local Octopus fava beans, saffron braised new potato, fennel, squid ink aioli, celery juice
My dad got this dish. Cool, tender octopus sat in a light broth; strands of fennel provided a crunchy, refreshing bite.
Morel-Mascarpone Raviolinis quail egg, fava beans, peas, brown butter, parmesan
This dish was another highlight for me, with a very nice chewy pasta packed with morel mushroom and a creamy cheesy, liquid-yolk filling. Fava beans, peas and grated parmesan added to the richness and depth of flavor. Loved the colors too.
Moving into the main courses, we tried four unique dishes.
Tai Snapper turnips, passion fruit mousseline, caviar, black garlic
A crispy-skinned snapper had moist, white flesh that paired well with the fruit of the mousseline. The spread of black garlic had a very deep, earthy flavor that easily overpowered the fish if too much was in one bite. Salmon roe played the role of the caviar (I was expecting the sturgeon variety), adding a bright salinity to the dish.
Roasted Pigeon beet, mulberry, buckwheat, wild greens, liver
My mother opted for the pigeon, a colorful dish featuring tender, juicy chunks of the bird with a myriad of vegetables.
California Lamb wild rice, ricotta, porcinis, swiss chard, Chino Farms corn
My grandmother and father ordered this dish, a trio of lamb preparations. The chop was tender and juicy as expected, while a sweet-glazed shoulder and crispy belly preparation rounded out the trio. Sweet corn and earthy complements of the wild rice, porcinis and swiss chard completed the dish.
28 Day Dry Aged Ribeye Roasted Chino Farms new potatoes, hazelnuts, grilled spring onions, chimichurri, Chino Farms corn
Three in our party (obviously a strong meat-eating family) ordered the a la carte ribeye. These were cooked well, being tender and juicy, though I found the difference-maker to be a citrusy chimichurri sauce. It really brightened up the bites, cutting through the richness of the meat.
The sunset provided the perfect backdrop to signal the dessert phase of this meal.
The kitchen sent out this off-menu pre-dessert, a dish often served to TBL3 diners.
Featuring various preprations of chocolate and mint, this was a stellar dish enjoyed by everyone at the table. Chocolate and mint are a classic pairing, but the textures are what made this dish even more interesting.
We tried four desserts amongst us.
Carrot Cake citrus, brown butter, lavender raisins, carrot ice cream
Warm Chocolate Tart whipped crème fraiche, cocoa nib streusel, cherry ice cream
Peach Melba honey, raspberry, chia seeds, vanilla ice cream, white peach sorbet
Doughnuts & Dips marshmallow crème, caramel, chocolate peanut fudge, cherry compote
The desserts were much simpler and more straightforward compared to the pre-dessert; to me, they weren’t as interesting as the savory options. All four of these were ultimately satisfying, just not as memorable as the previous courses.
I found the meal here at George’s to be excellent; in fact, the entire experience was – it was an ideal setting to celebrate a special occasion. My mother said that the restaurant called a day later to thank us for celebrating at the restaurant, a small touch that’s just very rare. The food overall met and exceeded high expectations; I thought it did a good job of showcasing many of the local ingredients in season. Foshee’s cooking kept things simple enough to let these ingredients shine through, while adding just enough creativity to keep them interesting and memorable.
Given its Tuesday-Thursday availability (though I’ve heard this has been extended to weekends), I’m not sure when I’ll be able to dine there, but TBL3 has just shot up my list of restaurants to try in SoCal.