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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Paradise (Grill) in Del Mar?

THE PLACE:  PARADISE GRILL (Flower Hill Mall, Del Mar / web)
THE VIBE:  Feels like Maui
THE FOOD:  Island Influenced
THE PRICES:  Wide range from $15 burgers to $29 filets


Ever get that strange feeling of deja vu?  Well, I got it the second I stepped into Paradise Grill in Del Mar's Flower Hill shopping mall.  It's taken me a long time to stop in because 1) I hate the parking at Flower Hill Mall, and 2) I hate wandering around Flower Hill Mall looking for any shop that is the least bit interesting.  But as fate would have it, there I was - impatiently waiting for a giant SUV to leave.  HURRY UP!!!

Back to that deja vu thing again.  Once inside Paradise Grill I was reminded of any number of restaurants on Maui.  Wow, am I at Kimo's?  Wait, no, this is David Paul's!  No wait, ahhh, Hula Grill, right?  Now look, I didn't say that's a bad thing.  In fact, I felt like I was on vacation and God knows I need a vacation.  But let's order up some food.  What's that?  Duck Confit tacos?  I love duck confit.  I love tacos.  How can it miss?

But miss it did.  The duck was uninspired, like generic meat and lacking any real duck confitiness.  And the fries, well you know I love fries.  But I HATE IT when they serve cold fries.  Really, if McDonalds can get it right then a real restaurant should too.  Let me try my Gordon Ramsy impression:  "WHAT THE HELL, THEY'RE ^%$#$ BLOODY COLD, SEND IT BACK!!!"  Overall, I'd have to give this dish a C-. 

Next up was the Firecracker Shrimp, deep fried crispy with a sweet and spicy sauce.  And guess what, it was scorching hot like they actually just cooked it when we ordered it.  And guess what again?  It was THE BOMB, delicious and well executed.  Nicely done!  

So the final verdict?  I love the atmosphere and setting, and the shrimp made up for the lousy tacos, so I have to give this one a solid B.  If you're stuck trying to think of a place to go for lunch or dinner that feels like vacation but doesn't cost like one, then Paradise Grill might be the ticket. Just don't get the tacos.

Oh yeah, almost forgot - here's a two for one coupon so you can get a double order of that shrimp and not worry if someone wants a taste.  That's my plan for next time.

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