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Friday, September 3, 2010

FOODIE FRIDAYS: Let's Go Local with the Kensington Grill

4055 Adams Ave, San Diego, 619 281-4014 (website)
THE VIBE:  Neighborhood restaurant, contemporary setting, trendy
THE COST:  Very reasonable, <$20 pp average

I love neighborhood restaurants, the kind that locals rave about but rarely hit the tourist radar.  Recently I rediscovered Adams Ave.  What I remembered as an old part of town has somehow become rather trendy and cool, retro but modern.  I had heard good things about Kensington Grill and one look at the menu sold me.  Come on, an appetizer plate of pig parts?  You mean I can eat bacon without feeling guilty?

I started my adventure with one of their signature drinks, the Purple Agave with sauza, lime, and pomegranate.  A bit like a margarita, not too sweet.  The night we went they were $6 so a pretty good deal, but not sure I would order it again at the full price of $10.  Let's move on, I'm hungry!

You can tell a lot about a restaurant just by the bread.  And butter.  Looks good, doesn't it?  Soft and chewy, this is the good stuff.  Serve this in prison and they'll never want to leave.

First up were the Truffle Tater Tots with goat cheese and coated with panko crumbs.  Absolutely delicious, a texture like mashed potatoes inside, creamy and delicious, a cup of tangerine ketchup provided the sweet and sour contrast, brilliant!  I think I might try to make these at home.

Tough dinner decisions.  Their hot dog special was a ginger beef dog with fries.  I love fries and I love ginger beef, but table peer pressure overrode that decision ("what?  You're ordering a hot dog for dinner???")  There are also plenty of small plates for sampling that and that, but I went traditional and started with a salad.

But not just any salad. This is the wild arugula with mango and gorgonzola cheese salad and it was refreshingly delicious, the sweetness of the mango with the acid of the dressing, the tang of the cheese a nice balance.  I love good salads and this one knocked it out of the ballpark.

This is the citrus and herb crusted salmon with polenta and pink peppercorn buerre blanc. The fish was nicely cooked, the sauce a nice compliment, good job.

The chicken breast with tomato fennel broth was moist and flavorful. Another well executed dish.  Chicken usually doesn't excite me in restaurants as I pretty much have chicken nailed at home, but I'd get this one again.

And now the showstopper.  While the other dishes were good, really good, the whiskey and peppercorn braised short ribs with polenta and mushrooms was a revelation.  This one was so good that others at the table kept trying to take a bite - shoo, shoo, eat your own dish!  You order this and everyone will be envious, you'll be more popular than Lindsey Lohan after a few drinks!

By now I was feeling pretty adventurous on my ordering (maybe the Agave drink was kicking in) and decided to go with the oddest dessert on the menu, the peanut butter and jelly cheesecake.  Well, hmmmm, it tasted a bit like the peanut butter Space Food Sticks I had as a kid, not good.  The texture was tough, it was dry, it didn't even look good on the plate.  D-  I was hoping for some of that creme brulee my wife ordered but no chance since I was such a jerk with sharing my short ribs.  Damn that karma thing!

But all in all, a successful dinner.  I really like the Kensington Grill and would go back in a heartbeat.  And next time I'm getting that bacon sampler to go with the tots.  And a hot dog.  And the ribs.  And I'm not sharing. 

Want more Wally?  Who doesn't?  Go to Local Wally's Guide to San Diego for everything San Diego, and tell your friends!!

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