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Best Things I Ate This Month: October 2014

Chicken and Dumplings at Kitchen 1540, Octopus at The Patio on Goldfinch, Green Flash at Sea180 Coastal Tavern

By Troy Johnson

Chicken and Dumplings @ Kitchen 1540

After years of progressive molecular cooking that was often more intellectually curious than tasty, L’Auberge Del Mar brought in Brandon Fortune—a southern-inspired chef trained by the French, raised by the American south. A recent tasting of the menu was very good—though Fortune’s chicken and dumplings stood pretty far above the rest. For the dish, Fortune places a confit chicken thigh over a fried puff of biscuit dough with cracklins (pan-fried skin), carrots, celery and a coconut-curry gravy. It’s that last Asian influence that takes a classic dish and gives it just the right twist. Pretty phenomenal. 1540 Camino Del Mar, 858.793.6460,

Best Things I Ate This Month: October 2014

Best Things I Ate This Month: October 2014

Octopus @ The Patio on Goldfinch

The Patio on Goldfinch is one hell of a beautiful restaurant. It feels like someone designed a rustic living room for a nice Rancho Santa Fe villa, and then removed the roof and much of the walls. Their plant walls are essentially rainforests. For chef John Medall’s menu, there is no better dish than his octopus. The Mediterranean and Baja-inspired delicacy is quite the trendy appetizer these days, and Medall’s is one of the best I’ve eaten. It’s beyond tender with well-caramelized skin and a gigante bean ragout made gluttonous with pork belly and a house-made pine nut butter. Search elsewhere for diet plates. Search this for sheer pleasure. 4020 Goldfinch St., Mission Hills, 619.501.5090,

Green Flash @ Sea180 Coastal Tavern

Best Things I Ate This Month: October 2014

Best Things I Ate This Month: October 2014

This is a review of the view and property as much as it is the cocktail. The Pier South hotel is set among the existential funk of Imperial Beach. Any new structure in a keep-it-weird province like I.B. could’ve been a disaster. Locals could’ve thrown bologna at the windows in protest. But this white-and-cream LEED Silver building isn’t garish at all. And the patio—with views of the I.B. pier, the Coronado Bridge and the sunset—is a phenomenal place to get a drink. The Green Flash, while sounding sickly sweet, is well-balanced with just the right amount of pineapple juice, a touch of Midori and a slight kick from the jalapeno-infused tequila. Camping out here with a cocktail an hour before sunset makes life feel good. 800 Seacoast Dr., Imperial Beach, 619.631.4949,

Best Things I Ate This Month: October 2014

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