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Best Things I Ate This Month: December 2014

Chicken Dinner at Land & Water Co., Lamb Pappardelle at Bottega Americano, Beet Salad at Blue Fire Grill

By Troy Johnson

Chicken Dinner @ Land & Water Co.

My next review is on this restaurant from Rob Ruiz. If Ruiz’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he made headlines by helping the owners of Harney Sushi become the city’s first sustainable sushi restaurant. L&W is an eco-food lover’s dream, and landed on my list of the Top 10 New Restaurants in 2014. I won’t give away too much on the review, but shocking to say the sushi expert’s chicken dinner might be the best thing on his current menu—a roasted half-Jidori chicken with mashed potato puree and housemade kimchi in a pool of bacon herb jus. A sushi restaurant has no right doing Americana comfort food this well.

2978 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, 760.729.5263,

Lamb Pappardelle @ Bottega Americano

Best Things I Ate This Month: December 2014

Best Things I Ate This Month: December 2014

Another from the Top 10 Restaurant List for 2014. Although East Village is coming alive, no one would pretend that Bottega Americano is in the ideal location. Or at least not marquee. It’s tucked on the non-traffic side of the Thomas Jefferson Law School building. But on a Wednesday night, it was packed—for good reason. I could rave about the Hamachi crudo with brown butter crumble and Granny Smith apple slices, but chefs David Warner and Giuseppe Ciuffa are making phenomenal pasta from scratch. And one dish, in particular, they will never be allowed to remove from menu. The pappardelle with braised lamb sugo (sauce) that’s given a deep, sweet note with a little bit of brown sugar and some umami in the form of Pecorino (a traditional sugo ingredient). It’s a moaner.

1195 Island Ave., Downtown, 619.255.7800,

Beet Salad @ Blue Fire Grill

Best Things I Ate This Month: December 2014

Best Things I Ate This Month: December 2014

Chef Simon Dolinky (ex-Saltbox) has taken over as chef de cuisine at Omni La Costa, the meditative resort up in Carlsbad. He’s not done fully implementing his own menu yet, but the roasted beet salad is a winner that should satiate his able-bodied clientele. The multicolored beets come in a bed of whipped ricotta with huge chunks of cooked-and-cooled wild fennel, caramelized orange vinaigrette and just a whiff of truffle honey.

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, 760.929.6346,

Best Things I Ate This Month: December 2014

Photo by Sam Wells

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