TBL3 at Georges California Modern - La Jolla, CA

Dinner - Saturday, March 29, 2014

More than seven months since our last TBL3 meal - it was time.

I find March and April to be tricky periods for eating out in Southern California - caught between a Winter that never came and (particularly this year) a Spring that is less than green. But the vegetables from Chino Farms rarely disappoint, and Trey Foshee is their whisperer.

NB: for point of comparison, our meal from exactly one year ago - March 27, 2013.

Eucalyptus soda
Northern Divine caviar
Cauliflower, banana, white chocolate
Chocolate clam, burnt onion ponzu
The large clam, from Ensenada, was the first of its kind that I've had - evidently some local regulations have changed, and we may soon be seeing more seafood from south of the border making its way to San Diego. Hurrah!

Japanese hamachi, kumquat kosho, pickled onion
Chino Farms carrots
Whey, citron, chamomile, raisin, fresh cheese
Wow. This is what the kitchen does best - extracting clean, punchy flavours from local produce. The citron vinegar was phenomenal, particularly in contrast with the creamy cheese.

Fish taco
This tribute to San Diego seems to be a TBL3 mainstay now - the iteration tonight was technically superior to its predecessor, particularly with regards to the tortilla. The fish, a fantastic achiote-marinated madai, was accompanied by crispy skin and classic fish taco fixings. Excellent.

Local spot prawns, fennel butter
Wild salad
Another perennial course, the components of the salad vary with the seasons - on this night we were presented with nasturtium and wood sorrel, accompanied by nasturtium honey and a verdant stinging nettle purée. Nestled in the center of the herbs, the sweet and ever-delicious natal plum sorbet. Finally, giant wild pine nuts with their preternaturally earthy flavour. Hardly any bitter notes in this iteration of the salad - very good.

Black truffle omelette, uni, hollandaise
Braised cabbages
Smoked bone marrow, crispy rice, bacon-kombu broth
Featuring four types of cabbage from Chino Farms, this was a stunner. Salty, umami broth played up against the creamy marrow. The vegetables retained a slight hint of their raw texture, which really put the dish over the top.

Rabbit loin, tarragon-infused jus
Chino Farms asparagus, peas, rhubarb, morels
Dry-aged ribeye, radishes, onion jus
Grapefruit sorbet, spiced peanuts, vanilla bean cream
Mango float
Ginger beer, mezcal ice cream
A mango-infused ginger soda was poured over mango purée and mezcal ice cream. Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee - that ice cream packed a punch!

Chocolate cremeux
Strawberry, white asparagus, olive oil
Strawberries and asparagus are a classic pairing, both on the plate and in the garden. Here, creams of both lined a central avenue of chocolate cremeux. Powdered olive oil (which I normally find terribly gimmicky) complemented the asparagus quite well. Proportions were also nicely calibrated - a rather impressive dessert, and a great end to the meal.

A few years since its inception, TBL3 is still the best meal in San Diego. Although his imprint on the tasting menu is not readily apparent to me yet (or he's doing a very good job channeling Trey), new chef de cuisine Jonathan Bautista brings talent and pedigree - I'm hoping to see more from him as he settles in. In the meantime, won't someone (anyone?) rise up and try to knock the king off his throne?

Georges California Modern

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