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The Best Things I Ate This Month: December Main Dish

Squash Salad at Sea & Smoke, Baklava Salad at Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge, Turducken at Seisel's Meats

By Troy Johnson


A lot of people flap about chef Matt Gordon’s indulgent southern tendencies, whether it’s his warm cheese biscuits or sticky buns or duckaroni. But the man knows a salad better than a plastic-parted SoCal waist-watching pilates junkie. At Urban Solace the winner was his watermelon salad, and at his new Del Mar outpost it’s this chewy beast. Kale is topped with red quinoa, feta, pepitas, pomegranate seeds and roasted squash. Put all that under a maple bourbon vinaigrette and even the most incisory carnivores won’t miss the meat.

2690 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, 858.925.8212,

Read Troy’s review of Sea & Smoke in the January Issue. Coming soon!

The Best Things I Ate This Month: December Main Dish

squash salad at Sea & Smoke


The Wellington is a classy little joint. We went on a Thursday, with a jazz duo tucked into the corner playing at perfect volume and tempo. Feels like a dark cubbyhole deep inside Versailles designed for cocktails and foreplay for heir-making. The new chef here, Karrie Hills, came from the Paso Robles Inn & Steakhouse and knows her way around a 1600-degree oven. But the girl doesn’t really eat red meat! At a restaurant called Wellington! What this means is her non-meaty dishes are just as good as the caramelized slabs. Like this baklava salad—dark greens from the restaurant’s garden in a pomegranate-honey-rosemary vinaigrette, paired with the tastiest Danish bleu cheese walnut baklava you’ll ever taste (as if you taste lots). It’s made with ginger sap—making it dense and crispy and chewy, just excellent.

729 W. Washington St., Mission Hills, 619.295.6001,

The Best Things I Ate This Month: December Main Dish

baklava salad at Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge

The Best Things I Ate This Month: December Main Dish

Turducken at Seisel’s Meats


San Diego’s top butcher shop holds a turducken festival every year before Thanksgiving, and I’ve long been eyeing the almighty Monster of the Meatway. This year I sprung for it and managed not to butcher the project for the family. All de-boned, it’s a chicken suit wrapped inside a duck suit wrapped inside a turkey sweater. Though it sounds like a home-cooking feat, my only complaint is that Seisel’s makes it too easy on me. It comes seasoned, rubbed, tressed and stuffed with apple-cinnamon stuffing, All I had to do was concentrate on gravy and watch the meat therm. With dark meat upon dark meat and still enough for the deranged people who only eat white meat—it beat the tar out of “normal” Thanksgiving dinner.

4131 Ashton St., Morena, 619.275.1234,

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