A Matter Of Trust | Hillcrest's Newest Restaurant Proves Itself Worthy

March 22, 2016

One! Two! One, two, three four! Some food is just a lie to the mouth, but not at Hillcrest's newest restaurant. We recently dined at TRUST - the hip, new concept that opened last month at the base floor of Jonathan Segal’s Mr. Robinson apartment building on the corner of Park and Robinson - and enjoyed some offerings from the modern menu of rustic, shareable plates.

You have likely eaten Chef Brad Wise's food at one point or another if you've dined at any of a number of San Diego's beachfront eateries. As the former Executive Chef of hospitality group Eat.Drink.Sleep, the fellow Jersey Boy was previously in charge of the menus and kitchens at JRDN, Wavehouse, Cannonball and Draft Mission Beach, to name a few. The young chef recently split off and opened his own restaurant - TRUST - alongside another E.D.S. alum, general manager Steven Schwob.

Trust has a very urban, dare I say it, Manhattan-like feel to it. The 2,687-square-foot eatery includes an expansive 1,300-square-foot outdoor patio, which should make it an urban destination for those wanting to take advantage of San Diego's best known asset - our amazing weather. The communal bar has a poplar planked backdrop, custom designed metal bar shelving and gold metal barstools. The dining room is dotted with white oak dining tables and chairs coupled with custom designed graphics wrapping the walls. The restaurant was bustling on our recent Wednesday night visit, but the young Chef Brad Wise, on display in his open kitchen, stayed visibly cool as a cucumber. Although pleasant to the eyes, Trust's open industrial design does have the effect of making the restaurant's dining room very noisy.

The menu at Trust is meant for sharing. We were advised of this from the outset and were told that diners should consider ordering 2-3 dishes per person, which seems like it could make for a fairly expensive experience. We started with the baby gem lettuce salad with local pears, sweet walnuts, red onion, Cape May honey and Maytag bleu cheese ($9). I very much enjoy the seemingly forgotten tradition of beginning a meal with a salad and this one was creamy, refreshing, savory and sweet all at once.

Octopus seems to be a highlight of almost every menu nowadays (just see our last few restaurant profiles). Chef Brad's version was well executed, nuanced and delicious - grilled octopus with Castelvetrano olives, salsa verde, pepperoni crumble, lentils and gigante beans ($18). I look forward to trying this dish again once Trust gets its wood-fire oven up and running, as a smokey char would really take this dish to the next level.

Disclosure: I'm not a fan of interactive dishes. Some people are. I personally do not like to think or work when dining out. Perhaps it's because I cook frequently at home. As such, the chicken thigh dumplings dish was lost on me. Dumplings are served on a parceled plate with butter lettuce, hoisin, sesame sriracha, pickled fresno chilis, pickled carrots with cilantro, and pickles ($15). Though playful to some, my creation resulted in a mismatching of flavors, especially with the overload of cumin in the dumplings.

After a misstep with the lettuce wraps, my trust in Trust was immediately restored by the ricotta agnolotti with fried sunchokes, black garlic streusel, winter truffle and basil ($19). This rich dish was absolutely fantastic with the sunchokes adding a nice contrasting crunch and the garlic streusel a welcomed smokiness.

The grilled lamb meatballs were served with lentils, tzatziki, pickled shallots, fresno chiles, carrot and mint ($15). Layered with Mediterranean flavors and made with Moroccan love, this dish was elevated by the textures of each unique component.

A pretty little terrarium of deliciousness arrived to our table to close out our meal. Layered milk chocolate and toasted coconut custards were topped with crunchy pistachio rice crispies, an airy and delicious coffee sorbet and refreshing leaves of basil. I'll take a gallon of that sorbet to go, please. Trust me, you'll want to.

Chef Brad Wise demonstrates a talent for deeply understanding flavors and evidently takes great pride in the plating of every dish. The menu at Trust will change with the seasons, always offering something fresh and new. We look forward to returning to sample another diverse array of plates.

TRUST Restaurant offers dinner Monday through Sunday from 5-10pm and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 9am-2pm. TRUST is located 3752 Park Blvd. Suite 105C in Hillcrest. For more information, call (619) 795-6901 and visit trustrestaurantsd.com.