Ranch & Coast Magazine

November 2023

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Page 49 of 91

orsen's love for Mister A's motivated him to make it his own, and he's done just that, renovating the entire 11,000-square- foot venue and its menu offerings. But in doing so, it was just as important to him to preserve the restaurant's storied history. e result is an updated iteration of a classic packed with preserved mementos to be appreciated by patrons who care as much for Mister A's as orsen does. Framed photos, press clippings, and other memorabilia line a hallway, and the wait staff wear lapel pins marked with the letter "A," which were forged to match rings gifted to wives within the Alessio family on the restaurant's 20th anniversary. A lobby with black-and-white checkered floors and antique chandeliers — some of which hail from the Alessio family's Mount Helix residence — segues to a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and touches of the crimson and azure hues (food and beverage menus, seat upholstery, accent carpeting), which were abundant throughout the restaurant during previous eras. Even with refurbished sets of original white arches and the restoration and expansion of the adjoining private-dining enclave, the Blue Room, the most dramatic transformation has taken place in the bar. In addition to being refreshed and reconfigured to seat more guests, that previously sunken offshoot has been raised to provide a better sightline for taking in Balboa Park and San Diego's southerly expanse. An even wider view is available from lounge seating on the patio, which wraps around the restaurant and transitions to full-scale dining and a view of the San Diego Bay on the restaurant's west-facing side. Another difference in the new bar is the cocktails being served from it. A new program offers inventive twists on traditional tipples such as "One Pit Wonder," a margarita lent Fir-like verdancy with the addition of California gin and silken texture from puréed avocado. Mesquite-smoked bourbon and walnut bitters make for a Texas take on a Manhattan, while the ingredients in "Garden My French" — sun-dried tomato-infused gin, basil brandy, artichoke liqueur, and herbed olive oil— read like those of a seasonal salad. In the kitchen, Chef Stéphane Voitzwinkler (who recently celebrated 20 years helming Mister A's) continues to lean on impressive, hardwired French technique, but he has ventured beyond France — and even Europe — incorporating influences from Asia, Africa, South America, and the U.S., as well as fun, fanciful touches not seen nearly enough in white-linen establishments. Simultaneously crispy and creamy, the chive-forward, caviar- mounted "tater tots" are must-have starters. ose looking for something a little less decadent but just as full-flavored will be sated by a salad of burrata and Chino Farm heirloom tomatoes with pepperiness and tang from a Dijon and red wine vinaigrette, crunch factor from toasted quinoa, and an earthy extra dimension from savory roasted eggplant. Hiramasa (yellowtail tuna) crudo — an almost mandatory dish in San Diego — is given a vibrant jolt by a dragon fruit agua fresca with raspberry-like sweetness and a capsaicin-induced zing reminiscent of Mexican Pico candy. Mains like Maple Leaf Farms duck breast with huckleberry gastrique, orange, mint, and carrot purée, and Georges Bank scallops with lemon butter and sugar snap peas showcase Chef Voitzwinkler's expertise in marrying multiple seasonal ingredients. So, too, does the medium-rare rack of lamb Provençal topped with a Indulge dining << ranchandcoast.com 50 NOVEMBER 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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