destination: san diego (feat. barista jay) pt.2

i am writing this post 30,000 feet up in the air as i’m flying to the wintry midwest: to the great mitten state. inside my checked luggage is a bottle of the bruery’s loakal red. the particular microbrew is only released to the locals in the orange county (the bruery is based in placentia, ca), hence the name loakal red. jay’s in for a real treat.

yes, i am writing about the trip to san diego that took place on the memorial day weekend, almost seven months after the fact, so i will get this going.


classy french bistro setting at café chloe

café chloe. after the exquisite french dining experience in korea, my appetite for french cuisine was further heightened by café chloe-a french café & bar establishment in the heart of gaslamp district.

it was an accidental find. one day, after a half day at the balboa park, my parents and i stumbled upon it sitting on the corner of the 9th & g. hardwood flooring, bistro hardware, vintage riveted frames, flower arrangements, housemade hand soaps-need i continue?

as tasteful as the shop interior, the food was as equally palatable. at the time of this post, i have paired every visit to san diego with a dinner at café chloe. five to be exact and counting.

duck confit with spinach

duck breast with spinach

this well-rounded establishment touts entrées cooked from scratch with locally sourced, in-season ingredients, featuring plat du jour and seafood du jour to highlight the ‘catch of the day’.

every single item on the menu is crafted meticulously-from the selection of the finest ingredients to flawless execution of balance of texture & flavor to visually stimulating presentation. sounds too perfect? café chloe pulls the hat trick with a selection of wines that makes vino aficionados anxious and housemade ice cream & sorbet that glisten café chloe’s already-ecstatic menu.

moule belgique

moule belgique

with produce from san diego’s local farms, all-natural meats & poultry, and sustainable seafood in the arsenal, chef katie grebow, sous chefs justin braly & andrew tucker, and pastry chef derek feldman redefine the french dining scene (and my stomach).

tip: bread & butter are brought out only when asked. and you better!

café chloe
721 9th ave

san diego, ca 92101

overall: ☆☆☆☆☆
price: $$½

– fresh ingredients!
– excellent selection of wines!
– romantic cafe décor

– doesn’t accept reservations?
– no belgian ales?

verdict: fresh, local, in-season ingredients in the hands of high-caliber chefs…come to irvine, please.

after the meal, we went up a couple of blocks to see san diego symphony perform sibelius, rachmaninoff and brubeck. ansel adams: america was particularly interesting to see. works of ansel adams were screened as the orchestra performed the scores composed by my all-time favorite musician dave bruebeck and his son chris.

i want to continue on with this post about our trip to downtown l.a. and abbot kinney, venice that took place the following day.

roaming the streets in dtla

roaming the streets in dtla

we were originally planning on visiting ktchn dtla, but it was closed when we got there, so we decided to go somewhere near: bottega louie. the brunch was as expected-on par with the dinner i had a while back. after the brunch, we left for the west side.

abbot kinney was jay’s favorite destination. and yes, i took him to intelligentsia! we each sipped a macchiato and strolled through the waves of beach-town hipsters. jay was genuinely fascinated. since we didn’t have the reservation for gjelina, located on abbot kinney, we had to skip the venice beach excursion and instead wait for a table to open up.


waiting with a couple of pints at gjelina’s

we sat down and ordered a couple pints of bootlegger’s rustic rye ipa. if you have not had the chance to sip the rye-infused brew, it is a must on your list! the grainy, hearty rye malts in the brew makes it a perfect appetizer!

rustic rye ipa
bootleggers’s brewery, california
american ipa, 6.20% abv

we ordered three plates to share: ricotta gnocchi pomodoro with parmesan and basil, grilled austrailian lamb chops with rapini pesto, harissa & roasted garlic, and grilled pomegranate lacquered quail with green harissa. okay let me tell you what, the small plates here (albeit too small)   are marvelous! one caveat to the otherwise super-good food: they really like to char everything at the grill.

i visited gjelina and its “take-away” counterpart gta on another occasion, so look forward to those in my future postings. for the time being, i will go ahead and spare some comments for this wonderful hipster joint.

1429 abbot kinney blvd

venice, ca 90291

overall: ☆☆☆☆
price: $$$

– the powder soap in the restroom is simply orgasmic!
– creative, comprehensive rotating menu by type
– edison-era industrial interior

– only five crafts on tap?
– everything is overpriced! (yes, i understand that it is on abbot kinney)

verdict: where else would you dine on abbot kinney!? (oh yeah, lemonade)



to close the evening, we drove a few blocks northwest to wurstküche on lincoln blvd (different location from dtla). as expected, this also turned out to be yet another favorite of jay’s. we say farewell for now until next time.,

our next destination? where my heart is at, seattle the emerald city.

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