Carmel Valley

coconut salmon at Crudo by Pascal Lorange

Crudo by Pascal Lorange found its way to the top of my list for San Diego Restaurant Week. I have higher expectations when a restaurant brands itself with a chef, especially if their name appears in the name or tagline! Every aspect and little detail matters including the decor, ambiance, service, and of course the food and drinks. It didn't hurt that their SDRW lunch menu was being offered for only $20 including dessert! Can't. Resist. Crudo.

Crudo by Pascal Lorange

Dennis and I took a drive along the 56 freeway and arrived at The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch. This plaza was brand spanking new (at least for us) and we found the restaurant on the northeast side next to Crunch Fitness gym. The easiest parking was the lot in front of the gym and luckily new years resolution gym bodies hadn't filled every spot. Our late lunch timing could have helped as well!

The space was elegant in white, silver and light wood tones. There was an open spread of seating both inside and out, plus a center bar area for drinks. We were sitting in these papasan chairs during the meal and thinking... if I relax too far back, I might bump my neighbor behind me! *excuse us*

Another book club dinner post! Yay to books and bites! For July, the girls met at Urban Plates, a farm fresh restaurant located in the huge shopping/dining plaza off El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights. You move through cafeteria style, pick out your main plate, salad, sandwich, etc then select from an eye-catching medley of hot and cold sides. As a heads up, there are two lines, one for salads and one for other dishes so make sure you go in the correct one, especially if it's shorter! Payment is made at the end before you seat yourself.

Urban Plates - Grilled Steak Plate with Brussels and Butternut

The urban plates ($10) come with a choice of meat and two sides or four sides with no meat. I ordered the medium rare Grilled Steak Plate on a previous visit. The beef strips looked gorgeous but weren't as tender or flavorful as some other places. It was accompanied with simple rectangular bread and I was curious if I would have liked it better as a sandwich. I picked lightly sauted brussel sprouts and an interesting mushroom squash medley for my sides.