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Addison San Diego – Introduction and Reservations
Nestled within the luxurious Fairmont Grand Del Mar Hotel property in San Diego lies Addison, a culinary gem recently earning its third Michelin star in 2022. My recent dining experience at Addison was an unforgettable journey that unfolded over four enchanting hours, taking me on a gastronomic adventure like no other.
Booking a reservation at Addison can be a competitive endeavour, with availability filling up months in advance. I made my reservation three months before my visit and found that the desired date and time were fully booked. However, the restaurant’s gracious staff accommodated my request to be placed on a waiting list, and two weeks before Canada Day (July 1, 2023), an opportunity opened up for me.
As I arrived at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar Hotel, the anticipation built as I approached Addison’s separate entrance adjacent to the golf course. I should note that, unlike many hotels, Addison does not allow diners to transfer their meal bills to their room for Fairmont loyalty points.
Once inside, the restaurant’s ambiance immediately captured my attention. Addison sits majestically on a bluff, offering panoramic views of the surrounding hillside through its arched windows. The soaring ceilings and tasteful decor create an atmosphere of refined elegance, setting the stage for a remarkable culinary journey.
Addison San Diego: Tasting Menu “The Experience”
Addison’s tasting menu, aptly named “The Experience,” is the pièce de résistance of the evening, offering a symphony of flavours across nine courses. However, it’s worth noting that considering the array of six appetizers/amuse-bouches and five delectable desserts, the meal feels more like a 20-course extravaganza.
“The Experience” is $365 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. While this might seem steep, it’s essential to understand that you’re not merely dining; you’re embarking on a personalized culinary adventure where every detail has been meticulously curated to provide an unforgettable experience.
Addison San Diego: Champagne and Cocktails
To kick off the evening, diners are presented with an indulgent champagne service featuring iconic labels like Krug, Cristal, and Dom Perignon. While tempting, I opted for a more adventurous path and chose two cocktails from Addison’s enticing cocktail menu.
The first libation, a layered Strawberry Purée, Rhubarb, Almonds, and Rum concoction, arrived with a vibrant red strawberry purée topping and a lime peel garnish. This was a sensory delight, a symphony of fruity sweetness with a hint of rum’s warmth.
Next came a palate-cleansing Tepache, a refreshing and zesty Pineapple and Citrus-flavored drink in a delicate ceramic shot glass. It prepared my taste buds for the culinary journey that lay ahead.
Addison San Diego – The Experience (Savoury courses)
The first course, an Oyster with Horseradish, Smoked Roe, and Preserved Strawberry, presented a stunning visual of vibrant colours. The lightly flavoured strawberry sauce delicately complemented the oyster, setting the tone for the future’s remarkable courses.
The meal flourished as four preliminary dishes arrived simultaneously, referred to as “The Preludes.” This quartet included:
- Sake Cured Kanpachi and Nigiri: A fish dish with a delightful wasabi kick.
- Sage Hill Ranch Garden Greens: A mini-salad elegantly encased in a puff pastry, designed to be savoured in one exquisite bite.
- Iberian Ham, Crispy Potato, and Espelette: My favourite, featuring a crunchy potato cake crowned with prosciutto-like Iberian ham.
- Chicken Liver Churro with Bitter Chocolate: A one-bite wonder served on a bed of coffee beans, boasting a chocolate shell with a savoury chicken liver filling and a subtle cinnamon essence.
The symphony of savoury dishes continued each a harmonious blend of flavours, textures, and artistic presentation. Notable highlights included:
- Kanpachi Sashimi with Melon, Golden Kiwi, and Pichuberry Ponzu: This dish resembled a delicate flower submerged in an orange-pinkish broth. Diners were instructed to pluck each petal and dip it into the rich melons and pichuberry ponzu sauce.
- Shellfish Chawanmushi with Broccoli, Bok Choy, and Purple Daikon: A visually striking dish resembling a sea urchin with creamy custard and various vegetables. The rich custard, vibrant colours, and flavours were a delightful combination.
- Regiis Ova Reserve Caviar with Koshihikari Rice, Smoked Sabayon, and Sesame: Rice and toasted sesame seeds adorned with sabayon and crowned with caviar. This dish was one of two that came with the optional caviar supplement, and it added an opulent touch to the meal.
- Fish and Chips with Toasted Dill and Burnt Onion Dip, accompanied by Caviar: Salt and vinegar chips, a tangy onion and dill dip, and a dollop of caviar combined for an intriguing take on a classic comfort food. While delicious, the chips could have been slightly thicker to better support the dip and caviar.
As I sipped my “Toronto” cocktail, a personalized touch inspired by my bright red shirt and Maple Leaf tie, I couldn’t help but appreciate the staff’s attention to detail. It was an unexpected gesture that added a layer of warmth to the dining experience. When they noticed my enjoyment, they graciously offered a second one on the house—an uncommon delight in a three-Michelin-star establishment.
- Golden-eye snapper sushi: The crescendo of savoury dishes reached its peak with the Splendid Alfonsino, a golden-eye snapper sushi served with clam broth. The dish showcased the chef’s precision and mastery, with flavours that lingered in my memory.
- Tom Kha Goong: A spicy Thai chicken and mushroom soup, paired with a side serving of grilled fowl. This Thai-inspired creation easily claimed the title of my favourite among the savoury offerings. The infusion of bold flavours, the tender texture of the grilled fowl, and the harmonious balance of spices made this course an absolute standout.
- Barbequed Squab: A succulent thigh of California squab accompanied by wild porcinis, whipped onions, and a red cabbage syrup. The whipped onions added a velvety contrast, and the red cabbage syrup provided a delightful sweetness that harmonized with the red wine-infused elements of the dish.
The Bread: An Interlude
Before transitioning to the dessert courses, Addison offered an interlude—a loaf of Sourdough Bread accompanied by decadent accoutrements. The bread was a work of art, paired with two exquisite kinds of butter: goat’ milk butter and brown honey butter.
As I savoured the bread and watched the executive chef, William Bradley, move gracefully from table to table, shaving truffles into each dish, I couldn’t help but feel the moment’s magic. Chef Bradley’s acknowledgment of Canada Day, signalled by my Maple Leaf tie, was a personal touch that resonated profoundly and added a layer of warmth to the experience.
Addison San Diego – The Dessert courses
The journey was far from over as I embarked on the dessert portion of “The Experience.” Each dessert was a testament to the chef’s artistry and creativity:
- Yuzu Custard with Candied Ginger and Ceremonial Matcha: A vibrant, green, foamy drink with the refreshing flavours of ginger and matcha. It served as a refreshing palate cleanser, preparing the senses for the sweet treats.
- Strawberries and Cream with Lemon Verbena and Grated Lime: Delicate strawberries paired with a Kefir-based cream and strawberry purée sauce—a sweet and tangy delight.
- Berry Beet Tartlette with Verjus and Vanilla: A one-bite wonder featuring beetroot and raspberry in a harmonious fusion of flavours.
- Tres de Leche: My personal favourite among the desserts, this one-bite wonder was a divine tribute to the classic Latin American dessert, featuring a delicate balance of three milks.
- Bitter Chocolate Wafer with Pistachio and Sour Cherry Jam: A chocolate cone adorned with sour cherry jam and pistachio in the center, crowned with a chocolate mousse. The presentation resembled an ice cream cone, adding a playful touch.
- Cocoa Crunch with Mezcal, Passion Fruit, and Toasted Fluff: The grand finale, a three-part dessert that invites diners to mix the flavours. It featured a cocoa and hazelnut crunchy wafer, a dollop of marshmallow, and a passion fruit sauce—a delightful conclusion to an extraordinary meal.
An Unexpected Encounter: Meeting Chef Bradley
After the meal, I was granted the privilege of touring Addison’s kitchen and meeting the culinary genius behind it all, Executive Chef and Owner William Bradley. During our encounter, I couldn’t resist asking him how he knew it was Canada Day. His humorous response revealed that his wife, who is Canadian, provides him with an annual Canadian history lesson on this special day. He joked they would be closed on Canada Day if she owned the restaurant. The exchange was a charming and authentic moment that encapsulated the personal touches that make Addison unique.
Final Thoughts: A Four-Hour Culinary Extravaganza
In retrospect, every aspect of my dining experience at Addison lived up to the hype surrounding this Michelin 3-star establishment. Throughout the evening, the attentive staff took the time to engage with diners, learning about their preferences and special occasions. My Canada Day celebration, marked by a personalized cocktail showcased Addison’s commitment to making each experience unique.
While the array of optional add-ons, such as caviar, wagyu beef, truffles, and champagne, can significantly increase the final bill, it’s essential to remember that dining at a three-Michelin-star restaurant is not about thriftiness; it’s an investment in an unforgettable experience.
It’s a journey that demands four hours of your time and, yes, a generous budget. But for those who appreciate the extraordinary and savour the art of gastronomy, it’s an adventure that is undeniably worth every moment and every dollar. So, if you find yourself in San Diego, I wholeheartedly encourage you to embark on this four hours of pure indulgence, and you won’t regret a single bite. Bon Appétit!
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