Update: This restaurant is now closed.
Last week I was invited to be a part of an online food community dinner held at the Suite and Tender restaurant downtown in the Se hotel. I took my friend Liz with me to enjoy the treats of the night, having no idea what was in store for us that evening. We enjoyed a spectacular night filled with drinks and foods and got to meet a few other local San Diego food bloggers and writers.
The evening started with cocktails and appetizers in their downstairs lounge (which has an incredibly large door that is almost a revolving door that you enter through). The lounge itself was modern and chic, with a little fire flaming above the bar and greenery all along one of the walls. We sat in a cushy booth and little to a little saxophone and were treated to drinks and nibbles.
Liz and I both ordered a “Passion” cocktail which is made with Kai Vodka, Champagne, Passion Fruit Puree and Cranberry Juice. It was tasty and had a bright flavor to it – thought I could pretty much only have one since I was driving later. Liz had a bunch of wine that they offered to pair with different dishes we ate and I’m pretty sure she liked some of it.
In addition to cocktails, we were offered three different appetizers downstairs, though I only have photos of two.
The “Kobe Beef Carpaccio” was presented on some crispy bread and reminded us both of some really intensely flavored bruschetta. Carpaccio, I have learned thanks to Wikipedia, is thinly sliced raw beef. To me it tasted like some thinly sliced gourmet deli meats. The bread it was on was flavored very well – crisp and delicious.
Next someone came around with a tray of these cute little “Wagyu Beef Sliders”. They have caramelized onions, wild mushrooms and just a touch of Maytag blue cheese to round them out. The beef was perfectly cooked and the flavors melded really well together. I liked that it was just a hint of blue cheese so you could still taste all of the other ingredients on the slider. Very good!
The other item we had was a “Gourmet Mini Corn Dog” – it had a traditional sweet outside batter and inside instead of a hot dog, there was kielbasa! A nice surprise – I didn’t really know how they could make a corn dog gourmet but they pulled it off. Also offered with a spicy ketchup and honey mustard.
After some time spent downstairs, we headed up to the restaurant. They had us in an area by ourselves where we all sat together at a long table away from the other diners. Each place had a menu set out for us. I remember looking at the menu and thinking, “Oh, we’ll get a nice sampling of some more appetizers and some salads, that’s cool.” And then I realized there was a back side with our choice of entree and a dessert platter. Oh my, oh my.
They served us bottles of either Evian or Pellegrino for our water (“Still, or Sparkling?”), changed out our silverware multiple times, and right before the entree presented us with fancy, fancy knives from all over the world for our meal. Superb service!
Now, onto the food…
(Above photo) Clockwise from the top: Fried Rock Shrimp, Mini Hamachi Fish Tacos, Maple Syrup Glazed Bacon and Crispy Lumpy Crab Cakes.
The shrimp was my favorite – it was sweet and crisp. This is made with pineapple, candied walnuts and a spicy yuzu dressing. I could really taste the sweetness from the pineapple, but it wasn’t overly powering – just right.
The fish tacos on the other hand, were my least favorite. Though they were incredibly cute, taste wise it didn’t do much for me. It was cold, the shell wasn’t too crisp. The fish itself was light and was dressed with a soy sour cream, pineapple and avocado. But again, I would pass on this.
What can I say about bacon? It’s freaking delicious and this was no exception.
The crab cakes were also good – a bit spicy and plenty of chunks of crab meat in there.
Following the appetizers were two salads: Duck Confit and Baby Spinach (baby spinach salad is above). My photo of both salads together came out crappy.
The baby spinach salad was heavenly – it had bits of bacon, crispy shallots, bites of apple, pine nut butter (!) and a caramel vinaigrette. It was sweet and tasty – and I love the crunchiness of the shallots with the apples. The pine nut butter was outstanding (as long as you didn’t get too much of it). Really excellent salad.
The duck confit salad on the other hand I didn’t really enjoy. It was a Napa cabbage with candied walnuts, chives, I think more apple, and a walnut vinaigrette. I’m not a big fan of cabbage though so I might be biased here, but the textures and flavors kind of weirded me out. I didn’t like the pairing of the cold duck with the cabbage and bits of walnut and fruit.
And now… for my entree.
The Lamb Chop.
Medium cooked lamb chop with fall succotash and a sweet potato puree with goat cheese. Oh. My. God. This is probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I hardly ever order lamb chops since they’re so pricey, but man, are they tasty. These lamb chops (and we sure did get a heavy amount of lamb) were tender, cooked just right, and full of herbs and spices crusted around the outside. It melted in my mouth with incredible flavor – I can’t say exactly just how good it was. Also – the sweet potato puree was to die for. It had a hint of goat cheese in it and was really creamy. I was only sad that there wasn’t more. I ended up picking up some of my chops and chewing off the bone – I wanted to do it more than I did, but didn’t want to seem too much like a crazed carnivore.
Last but not least – dessert! Mmm!
From left to right: Ice Cream Sandwiches, Chocolate Truffle Cake, 5th Avenue Torte and the Suite and Tender Cheesecake.
My cohorts and I evenly divided this platter up (just as we had done all night with the appetizers and salads) to make sure we all got a little bit. The ice cream sandwiches were made with rocky road ice cream and a chocolate brownie cookie – very rich. I tried to avoid the marshmellows as best as I could, so suffice it to say, not my favorite. The chocolate truffle cake was so incredibly chocolately – excellent choice for a serious chocolate craving. The 5th Avenue Torte was probably my favorite, simply because it had a peanut butter layer in it and was covered in chocolate (it also had an espresso mousse). The cheesecake was also good – different from your NY Style cheesecake though. It was light and kind of fluffy inside and crisp chocolate shell was a welcome addition in my book.
All in all, this was a really awesome night. I met a few bloggers, such as Leanne and Darlene. I also met Karen, a writer for the Examiner.com and got a card from Jenny who sat too far away for me to actually chat with. The staff at Suite and Tender really went above and beyond in their excellent service and Liz and I were totally thrilled to be a part of it (and thanks to Kelsey of Wagstaff Worldwide for the invitation!) and sample a few of their amazing dishes. Highly recommended for a night out, a special occasion or for just getting drinks and snacks.
Suite and Tender
1047 5th Avenue (north of Broadway)
San Diego, CA