del mar rendezvous / san diego restaurant week preview 2012 + giveaway

San Diego Restaurant Week is nearly upon us again – and one restaurant is putting together a sweet deal for San Diegans to get out and get a great meal this September. Del Mar Rendezvous is celebrating restaurant week over three weeks instead of the usual one week and it starts this Saturday, September 8th and runs until September 30th. They have a special $30 prie fix menu and a slew of wine, beer and sake specials to go along with your special meal.

In addition to the special menu, they’re also teaming up with Uber for a $30 Uber ride. Uber is a personal driver service that you use with your iPhone or Android phone to request driver service in a luxury vehicle. I tried out the service when I visited Del Mar Rendezvous last week – check out the end of this post for my recap (and a special giveaway)!

[peek at the SDRW menu – see full options here]

I was excited to be invited back to Del Mar Rendezvous for more delicious treats and offerings. Since I’ve visited in the past, I’ll try and just touch and recap on the newer items I tried this time around. For this visit I invited my dad to tag along with me to try all of the delicious offerings.

[steamed dumpling sampler – 2 ha gau (shrimp), 2 su jiao (veggie) and 2 xiao long bao (pork)]

I adore dumplings in all forms and sizes and couldn’t pass up trying out their Dumpling Sampler which is featured as one of the first courses on their SDRW menu. You get 2 of the shrimp, 2 veggie and 2 of the pork soup dumplings for tasting. Having recently had really excellent dumplings in Irvine, these kind of fell short of my exceptions. I thought they were just okay – maybe if I hadn’t so recently had such tasty ones these might have seemed better in my eyes, but they lacked in the flavor department just a little bit. I’d definitely try the Honey Glazed Spare Ribs if you’re coming for the first time here rather than the dumplings, were are just okay. They not as soft, supple and tender as other dumplings I’ve had but they’re also not the worst. They’re just okay.

[three-cup chicken – chicken thigh meat, sauteed with fresh basil, garlic, ginger and red chilies served in a sizzling clay pot]

The Three-Cup Chicken is a traditional Taiwanese dish that is a restaurant week exclusive dish. This is a dish that the chef usually prepares at home for his family and also served only to the staff at Del Mar Rendezvous. This special dish is cooked over high heat to release the bone marrow and then simmered over low to allow the dish to concentrate all of the flavor into the chicken and sauce, producing a rich and flavorful dish.

This dish reminded me very much of my mom’s chicken adobo. The long period cooking time allows the flavors to develop and deepen and creates a very flavorful dish. The meat is fall off the bone tender with pieces of whole garlic cloves and other intense flavors. I enjoyed eating this with bits of brown rice to help soak up the flavor. A very hearty and tasty dish!

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lotus cafe and juice bar / hillcrest – san diego, ca

Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar is a local restaurant with two locations in Hillcrest and Encinitas. They serve fresh, healthy, natural food and have a lot of dietary options for people who have gluten restrictions, are vegetarian or vegan. Many items can be made vegan and there are a few meaty dishes for those who prefer a bit more protein with their meal.

[Lotus Cafe and Juice Bar Menu]

[Menu Key – The menu is marked with various symbols indicating what the different options are. ]

When I found out I was being invited here and looked at the menu, I decided that I would bring Stacey along with me on this outing as she’s the closest to a vegetarian friend that I have, without actually being vegetarian. What can I say? The girl really likes her salads but can’t bear to give up bacon (bacon smells really good, you must admit).

[Hummus & Pita Bread – spread made of ground garbanzo, sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon & garlic, served with wedges of whole wheat pita bread]

We started off with an appetizer of hummus after we spent an obscenely long amount of time trying to figure out exactly what we wanted. The hummus comes in a big scoop. It’s very solid so not as creamy as other hummus that I’ve had, but the flavor of garlic and lemon shines through and gives this a nice texture and flavor. It comes with a mess of carrots and sprouts along with whole wheat pita bread for spreading and eating.

[Lotus Caesar Salad – Mixed organic greens with tomato, avocado, croutons, Parmesan cheese and vegetarian Caesar dressing]

We also shared this very large Lotus Caesar Salad between the two of us (half salad is also available). This comes with a vegetarian Caesar dressing on the side. The Caesar still has all of the flavor and kick of a regular Caesar so you’re not missing out when you get this. The tomatoes were so fresh and bright and the Parmesan shavings added a nice salty flavor to the salad. Half of a perfectly ripe avocado is placed on top for you to devour (which we did). So refreshing and crisp – the addition of the avocado here really made this shine for me.

[Stuffed Veggie Quesadilla – Whole wheat chapati stuffed with sauteed veggies and cheese, topped with guacamole, salsa and sour cream]

Stacey was between two items for quite some time but finally decided on this Stuffed Veggie Quesadilla. This one can be made vegan, if you so desire. It’s stuffed with with sauteed veggies – including big chunks of broccoli (something we both found really weird at first but it tasted so good that we decided it was a brilliant idea). The veggies are still a bit crisp with a little bite for extra texture. Covered in delicious cheese and topped with a spot of guacamole and sour cream, this is a very delicious and healthy version of a quesadilla.

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