kelvin at the w hotel / downtown – san diego, ca

Writing this post is making me hungry just reliving this dinner! I brought Stacey in tow with me to experience the food here, having no idea what a treat we were in for that evening. I had been invited to sample the menu at one of the new restaurants Downtown – Kelvin, which is situated inside of the newly renovated W Hotel. This new restaurant is headed by executive chef Kevin Harry. Chef Harry took the time to talk with us and present each dish to us to explain the dish which was a really nice personal touch. He pretty much fed us until we cried uncle – and it tempting to keep going, but there’s only so much room in your stomach… unless we’re talking about dessert. There’s also room for dessert!

[Dining room at the Kelvin in the W Hotel]

[Crazy pretty light fixtures]

One thing I can say about the Kelvin is that is pretty. And it’s cozy. And I love the light fixtures! I love the use of colors here.

[Complimentary bread and Pomegranate Mojitos]

Stacey and I started the night off with some tasty complimentary bread and some very minty pomegranate mojitos – that had pomegranate seeds floating through the drink. It was a nice fruity and minty way to start a meal.

After getting our drinks, we were introduced to chef Kevin Harry who asked about any allergies or diet restrictions. I told him of Stacey’s aversion to seafood but assured him that he could still bring seafood for to me.

Mmm, get the seafood into my belly!

And with that, we let Chef Harry take the reigns and bring us whatever he felt like putting before us to stuff into our faces.

[compressed watermelon with point reyes blue cheese, cilantro and saba drizzle]

The first thing Chef Harry brought out was this dish with these bright, colorful cubes. The cubes are compressed watermelon – the air is taken out of the watermelon to intensify the flavor of the watermelon. It’s paired with a rich, creamy, salty blue cheese and drizzled with saba, which is made from grape must (yeah, I had to Google it).

The sweet, refreshing watermelon paired so well with the blue cheese that I was really taken by surprise. It’s a unique twist on a salty-sweet combination that I found to be so original and refreshing.

[polano corn soup with spiced popcorn]

Our next dish was one of my favorites – a corn soup with popcorn! There’s a little drizzle of a spicy oil in for a nice kick and the creamy soup was simply delicious. The popcorn kernels adorning the top of the soup gave a little crispy element to the soup. The bottom started to soak up the flavor of the soup but was still crisp and crunchy enough to give that fun texture. Chunky pieces of potatoes and corn are in the soup contrasting with the creamy, rich broth.

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shimbashi izakaya / del mar – san diego, ca

Shimbashi Izakaya is a Japanese restaurant located in the heart of downtown Del Mar, CA. They serve a variety of “tapas” style menu items as well as sushi, noodles, and other Japanese dishes and seafood. I recently had the opportunity to try Shimbashi Izakaya for myself and was happily treated to a wonderful line up of delicious Japanese foods.

Shimbashi Izakaya is in such a pretty spot with a nice outdoor patio.

There’s an ocean view and if you’re lucky (ie: not dining in May or June), you’ll be treated to a sunny, ocean view. Our sunset was a little cloudy that evening and it was a bit chilly by the coast, but Laura and I were not deterred in the slightest! Also: heat lamps are a wonderful invention.

This is their menu – it looks like a picture book! I loved this idea, especially for cuisine that I’m not very familiar with. It’s so helpful to see photos of the items you want to order.

[Lychee Martini]

Our hostess pretty much convinced me to try this drink. I wasn’t going to have any alcohol, but with a little pushing and prodding you can get me to try a lot of things.

I admit, it didn’t really take much prodding. But, she did have them split our 1 Lychee martini into two glasses. This was very sweet – and I detected no alcohol, which is a crazy combination. The flavor of the lychee comes shining through on this martini. While I thought the drink was good, it would have been better if it was a little less sweet.

I loved the wooden skewers with the wooden flower bead – so cute!

[Baked Mussels]

After perusing through their large menu, Laura and I decided to get a few appetizers to start. One was this: the Baked Mussels. The mussels come back in their shells, grilled and topped with cheese and onions. Almost like a mini baked casserole in a shell.

I liked the flavors of the mussels but I wasn’t too crazy about the type of cheese paired with it. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think the flavor of the mussel went that great with the cheese.

[Pri-pri Ebiten]

I first saw this on Leanne’s post about Shimbashi and I already knew I would order it. Gigantic shrimp? In a honey glaze? FRIED?! Well damn, sign me up!
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