San Diego Dining: Top of the Market Restaurant
We recently completed a 15-day journey up and down the Southern California Coast in a quest to experience the region’s very best luxury oceanfront resorts with the intention of sharing our findings with our readers.
Normally, when we make this type of trip, we’re also out each night sampling the areas best restaurants. However, for this particular trip, we decided to limit our attention and focus on the resorts, and cover the region’s finest restaurants on another trip.
Our very first stop was San Diego, and we had just told our Twitter followers that we had just landed at the famous Hotel del Coronado. In what seemed like only a matter of minutes, we received a tweet from Chef Ivan Flowers that read: “@RoamingBoomers You are in my neck of the woods! Will you have time to dine at #TopOfTheMarket“?
Well, having experienced the gastronomical magic of Chef Flowers a few years back in Sedona, Arizona (go here), and not realizing that he was now in San Diego, we decided to break our no-restaurant-review pact and head for the Top of the Market restaurant where he was now the Executive Chef. He always said that he wanted to get back to California, and clearly he had accomplished that objective.
Awarded “Best Seafood Fine Dining 2013” by the California Restaurant Association
For 24 years, San Diego’s Top of the Market restaurant has occupied the second floor of the already popular Fish Market restaurant which was founded in 1967.
As you can see from my Google Earth photograph, Top of the Market offers guests a waterfront location, and is located adjacent to the USS Midway. Plus, with their own fishing boats and fisheries, the Top of the Market restaurant is absolutely confident that their guests are getting the very freshest fish available.
And, according to the San Diego Tribune, “…The Fish Market and its upstairs, upscale Top of the Market rate as probably the most successful restaurant on the California Coast. The reasons are obvious. There are no shortcuts to save a few bucks – this is seafood at its freshest.”
Well, that’s enough backstory, let’s get to sharing our dining experience!
We arrived early, and so we opted to enjoy a custom-crafted cocktail at the bar until our table was ready. Very tasty, and highly recommended.
Chef Flowers was kind enough to reserve us a very special seat by the window. On this late-fall evening, it was already dark, and we enjoyed an eerie, foggy marine-layer that had just quickly blown in.
After a few wonderful moments of reacquainting with Chef Flowers, his team brought out a wonderful Amuse Bouche: Lobster Bisque Espresso, Champagne Sorbet Spiced Beau Soleil Oyster. What a glorious first impression. A fresh oyster chased with a piping-hot shot of lobster bisque. YUM!
We enjoy it when a restaurant offers a sampler on their appetizer menus. A great many times we’ve found appetizers that have completely stolen the show. Up next, we were served a Petite Trilogy of Ahi Poke (mango salpicon, sweet soy wasabi), Hamachi (limoncello vinegar, jalapeño jam), and New Zealand Mussels (garlic thyme chardonnay broth).
So many wonderful tastes and textures on one plate. Smiles all around!
As is usually the case when we’re sampling the cuisine of a fine restaurant, we were causing a bit of a stir in the restaurant. What, with my camera flashing photographs of our meal, and the chef with his entourage coming with each successive course, people were beginning to wonder who we were.
In this particular case, we happened to be sitting by two young television execs who were not shy to inquire. And, after a few pleasantries, we found ourselves in a wonderful conversation, and, if I recall, there was even a little sharing of our bounty with them. Hah. We meet such wonderful people in our travels.
Out next, Pan-seared Mazatlan Prawns, Cognac Herb Roasted Trumpet Mushroom (smokey pequillo peppers and aged rocca parmigiano). Wow! Wow! Wow! If you’re a lover of prawns, then you absolutely must sample these!
For our fresh fish, Chef Flowers brought out one of his favorite fish: Pan-roasted John Dory Escabeche (caramelized onions, garlic vinegar roasted peppers, cumin scented confit tomatoes, tomato rouille). Tender, flakey, fresh, and oh so flavorful. Bravo!
Now, I don’t know if Chef Flowers remembered my love of his rack of lamb, but thankfully that was our next sampling. Behold, Roasted Rack of Lamb with a Garlic Basil Persillade (baby brussel sprouts, french breakfast radish, creamy fingerling potato ragout, herb sherry demi-glace).
Trust me, Carol and I wasted no time to enjoy those glorious lamb popsicles. Thanks Chef Ivan, you certainly know how to prepare a rack of lamb. Oh, it’s lunch time as I’m writing this. I wonder if he could beam me over a rack to two!
Ending our gastronomic journey was S’More Pie by the Water (chocolate coffee ganache, graham cracker crust, bruleed marshmallow). What a fabulous ending to a wonderful evening of culinary delights.
Listen, if you find yourself in San Diego, do yourself a favor and stop by the Top of the Market Restaurant. You’ll be glad you did!
Disclosure: our wonderful dining experience was provided by Chef Ivan Flowers and the fine folks at the Top of the Market restaurant. Thanks! We had a fabulous experience!
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