Allegro and TopSail - Easter Sunday in San Diego, CA
When I booked my nonrefundable ticket for business travel followed by a long weekend in San Diego, I messed up on two things. First, I had thought my friends’ wedding was the NEXT weekend and second, I didn’t realize the Sunday I had planned on being there was Easter. Two big oopsies.
It being Easter made my last day in San Diego interesting when it came time to plan for meals. I planned on having lunch, spending the day in Old Town before dinner, and then going to the airport for a red eye flight back to Philadelphia. I did manage to find a reservation for lunch at Allegro Bar and Restaurant in Little Italy. I got there a little early and was seated outdoors. It was a gorgeous day and perfect for al fresco dining.
I’d like to return to Allegro for a regular meal from their menu. Their Easter menu was laid out rather oddly. The starters, mains, and a dessert were all thrown on the menu in no particular order, with precious little description to aid in figuring out what someone might be ordering.
I started with the Grilled Artichoke. What came out of the kitchen was certainly flavorful, but it was comical, almost phallic, in the presentation. I’m not quite sure what the thought process was behind the plating, but it made me laugh.
For the main I ordered the Lamb Lollipops. These were flavorful but overdone. I like lamb to be a little pink and these were well-done all the way through. I’m not a big fan of serving hot meat directly on top of salads, which is what was done here. The dish also was served in a bowl and not on a plate. This was an interesting choice for something that requires a knife and fork. Or maybe I was supposed to use my hands and I’m just not sophisticated enough to have realized that.
Since the only dessert I could identify on the menu was the Sweet Board for $ 29, I passed on a final course. The server described it as a variety of desserts presented together, and I didn’t want to end up wasting more than half of it.
After lunch I spent a fantastic day in Old Town where I meandered through shops, wandered through historic buildings, and just generally enjoyed a gorgeous day outside. I then headed back to Little Italy so I could have dinner before collecting my luggage from the hotel. I winged dinner. I had not had any luck getting reservations at any of the restaurants I really wanted to try (next time, Juniper and Ivy!) since I waited until far too late to make them. I ended up heading back down to the water to see if any of the restaurants there had an opening. I found one at TopSail. This was a mistake. I’d already eaten at two of TopSail’s sister restaurants, Brigantine and Ketch’s, and had not been happy with either one. But I needed to eat something and there were precious few options.
The view was gorgeous – if anything, I would come here just for the view. Maybe for some drinks and light starters, sitting around the fire pit while overlooking the water as the sun sets.
I started with a crab cake. The crab cake I had at TopSail came out covered in breading and deep fried, neither of which had been indicated on the menu. The texture was also off. Instead of big pieces of crab, the texture was that of crab from a can. Admittedly, I have been very spoiled by Chef Daniel’s Crab Cakes at C’est La Vie, which are always fresh, without fillers, and actually taste like crab.
Having asked the server for their recommendation, I went with the Lobster Mac and Cheese for my main. I was not surprised but I was amused that the lobster was from Maine and not local. Apparently, 90% of the local lobsters are shipped to Asia since people in the area seem to prefer the big-clawed Maine variety. Still, lobster mac and cheese sounded good to me.
I think the chef forgot to salt the water before cooking the pasta. The pasta did have a nice bounce to it, so it was cooked to a proper al-dente, but it was flavorless. The lobster was rubbery and overcooked and was lacking the sweetness of the meat that I was expecting. I couldn’t eat more than a few bites.
For dessert, I decided to go with the S’more Brownie. It sounded so good. Chocolatey, rich, and decadent. What came out was none of those things. The Graham cracker crust was not toasted, it was burned. The brownie was so dry I had to drink water to be able to get it down. The toasted marshmallow topping wasn’t bad, except for where it had hardened to a candy shell under the sub-par “vanilla” ice cream.
Lesson learned – I will get out of the touristy areas the next time I’m in San Diego and I’ll also make sure to book reservations way in advance (and not over the Easter holiday!).