The Shores Restaurant: Well the View Was Probably Nice

February 8, 2012

Ahhhhh…..the thought of classy and sophisticated dining  with The Shores on one of the country’s most alluring and prestigious stretches of beach had me salivating all day.   My usual hesitations regarding dining during San Diego’s Restaurant Week were quelled by my personal notion that renowned The Shores would not sacrifice quality for such an event.

Perhaps my misgivings are the fault of the dark....maybe The Shores’ food comes alive in the day, when one can digest the beauteousness of the ocean and scurrying sandpipers along with the meal.  My experience, however, was not swayed by the jumping dolphin or rolling tides.  There I sat with my date, facing the deep darkness of the expansive windows, in an out-dated, old-fashioned dining room that maintained the stuffiness of the era in which it was created.  Our waitress proliferated the oft spoken of snobbery of La Jolla, condescending and hasty, while clearly demonstrating loyalties and time to the obvious regulars. 

Moving on and putting first impressions behind me, I refocused my attention on the food.  A glance at the regular, frequently chaning menu reveals a limited but reasonably priced item list.  We embarked on the three course dining adventure with wine pairings ($45 during Restaurant Week; $30 without wine pairings).  For my starter I chose the slow braised veal and rabbit, served atop house made potato gnocchi with fromage blanc and seasoned with marjoram ($12 on the regular menu).  The crispy potato gnocchi was the star of the plate, as the diced rabbit and braised veal fell to the wayside, indistinguishable meats in a hearty tomato sauce.  Thankfully the scoop of ricotta topping it off smoothed the dish out with a cool creaminess.

My date opted for the local shellfish stew, a gathering of mussels, clams and baby shrimp in a bath of roasted red bell pepper broth.  Apart from the shellfish, which may be shown down by the crunchy garlic, the pool of tomato-y-basil-y-oily-deliciousness was my personal invitation to a dip party, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

For my main course I ordered the perfectly poached California lobster tail.  Unfortunately, the delicate flavor of lobster was totally overwhelmed by the bitter pungency of mustard sauce and the sauerkraut-bed it laid upon , once again forcing the protein behind the curtain.  The addition of smoked celery root was a pleasant and interesting surprise, adding a nice crunch, but the tangerine-herb salad seemed like a misguided afterthought.  Too, too many contrasting flavors on one plate.  Chef DiBiase should have opted for a pork loin over a lobster tail. 

The star of the night was undoubtedly the Meyer Ranch angus beef flat iron, a rich and creamy cut of meat, enriched with a heady smoked moody blue cheese atop a spinach “fondue.”  The steak was accompanied by truffle fries, which, although sprinkled with big magnificent flakes of truffle, were out of place and cheapened an otherwise successful dish.

For dessert we were offered three small tastes along with Black Muscat, a dessert wine which tasted more like cranberry juice and was actually offensive to the sweetness of the desserts.  The bittersweet chocolate pot de crème was adorable, rich and delicious.  The pear sorbet was a simple naturally flavored refreshment.  As for the hazelnut brown butter cake, well it was just super sugary.

I failed to mention the pairings, because, in my very personal opinion, the wines were flat, unmemorable, and quite frankly, poorly paired with the dishes each was to compliment - yet another reason I opt out of Restaurant Week. 

I’d give The Shores another shot, outside of restaurant week, and during a bright sunny day, so that I may enjoy a simple cocktail, and perhaps another flat iron steak, while feasting upon the scenery; or maybe check out the happy hour where discounted small plates ($6 each) and drinks ($6-$10) are offered Monday through Friday, 4 – 6 p.m. 

8110 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla
(866) 644-2630

Hours: Mon-Sun 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

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