Georges California Modern - La Jolla, CA

Dinner - Saturday, July 14, 2012

I don't want to give the impression that TBL3 is the only worthwhile experience at Georges at the Cove. Following are pictures from a recent meal with dishes from the regular California Modern menu, as of the date above.

NB: In addition to the dishes we ordered and paid for, the kitchen sent out a number of complimentary courses - I have marked those with asterisks (*) in the captions.

*Tomato, corn and black truffle, uni, peas and lardo, Santa Barbara spot prawn*
The meal opened with a tantalizing collection of different tastes and textures. One of my favourite items was actually the succulent saltwort garnish (particularly when I ate it with the creamy tongue of uni). A second hit was the smoked lemon curd paired with the tartare of prawn - a hint of tang and sweetness to match the crustacean.

*Dungeness crab, Chino Farms melon, grapefruit sorbet
Kimchee vinaigrette, nasturtium, sorrel, shishito*
This was so good! Really, the crab almost seemed to play second fiddle to the astounding melon - I certainly would've been content with a slice of just that. The herbs brought in some bitterness and heat to balance the sweetness, while the (very mild) grapefruit sorbet tickled the tongue with its chill. The whole bowl was a paean to the season.

"Fish tacos"
Tuna, corn nuts, fried avocado, jalapeno aioli
Beef tongue, pickled vegetables
Grilled onions, avocado mousse, habanero gelée
Ajo blanco
Gazpacho sorbet, clams, cucumber, tomato, marcona almonds
Another very good dish. A cute idea, combining "white gazpacho" with a (intensely flavoured) sorbet of the tomato-based version. I enjoyed the texture of the toasted almonds and the crunch of cucumbers - this soup exuded freshness. The roasted tomatoes grounded the lighter flavours with a strong umami component. Our one issue was with the clams - rubbery and completely unnecessary.

*Santa Barbara spot prawns, fennel butter, lemon*
Simply prepared and served without fuss, allowing us to savour every last morsel. We lucked out with a huge amount of roe in one of the prawns - I only wished I had something to soak up all the juices!

White bass, summer beans, fava pistou
Celery sauce vierge, black truffle, smoked lemon
Roasted squab
Beets, strawberry, cocoa, buckwheat, sorrel, black pepper gnocchi
Perfectly cooked squab. Each component on the plate had a reason for being there, all supporting the bird in different ways - a very nicely conceived dish. I wish more plates of red meat were as well thought out.

*Intermezzo - Corn husk consommé, peanut butter mousse, Thai soil, bell pepper ice cream*
Almond milk panna cotta
Stone fruits, almonds, dill pollen 
The flavour of dill gave this dish another dimension. I am starting to appreciate Lori Sauer's desserts more and more. She shows restraint, knowing when to step back and let great products shine, but she also has a knack for highlighting more subdued ingredients to bring them to the fore - I thought that this dessert showcased her talent nicely.

Honey cake, corn, preserved lemon
Corn was present in three forms - ice cream, a velvety pudding, and crunchy caramel corn. Overall, a touch sweet for my liking, but I suspect this is in the strike zone for most diners. I did appreciate the inclusion of preserved lemon rind to offset some of the sugar, and the moist honey cake had deliciously caramelized edges.

In the year since the inception of TBL3, I've noticed its influence steadily creeping into the California Modern menu - I suspect they've just about reached the balancing point. Given the rapid turnover of dishes, I honestly can't imagine regularly dining at many other places in San Diego if you're seeking a consistent high-end experience.

Georges California Modern
1250 Prospect St.
La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: (858) 454-4244