Roseville1125 Rosecrans St.Point Loma619-450-6800rosevillesd.com
A longtime friend and I used to take regular “walks.” I use quotation marks because although we embarked on these excursions with the best of intentions—to take in a little fresh air and physical activity—we would routinely veer off our planned route, toward some restaurant or bar, to catch up over a snack and wine rather than pound the pavement. She lived in downtown La Jolla then, so there were lots of food options to distract us. We'd walk a mile or so before heading off-course to check out menus and cocktail lists, trying different places and effectively canceling all the good we had just accomplished.
When G moved into her boyfriend's apartment in Point Loma, we tried to carry on the tradition, but after exploring the neighborhood and not discovering much to tempt us, we went on hiatus. Why bother to walk, really, when there's no good place to eat at the end of it all?
If the food scene in Point Loma had been then what it is now, we might have persevered: Tender Greens and Wine Steals in Liberty Station are both ideal for quick bites, and I would have even jogged over to The Pearl. The newest addition to the area is Roseville, a smart and gracious restaurant with a Mediterranean menu that leans toward modern French brasserie food.
The restaurant is named after the part of town where it resides, between a decades-old drugstore and a liquor store that's fashioned like an old-time saloon. George Riffle, Roseville's owner and host, managed Laurel in Bankers Hill back in the day. Laurel is where I first had duck confit, which became, and remains, one of my favorite dishes on the planet and something I almost always order in restaurants rather than make at home.
I'd heard that Roseville's chef, Amy DiBiase, was a member of one of the original Laurel crews, so I hoped against hope that the duck would be on the menu, and my food wish came true. It was as good as I remembered, with the requisite crackly crisp skin and rich leg meat, this time served with rainbow chard, smoked bacon and fresh, seasonal shelling beans.
Since I knew my main dish would be a little heavy, I started with the watermelon salad and discovered a flavor combination to tuck into my own recipe box. The sweetness of the melon was enhanced by a fig balsamic glaze, while herbed goat cheese, the sharp bite of arugula and some good grinds of pepper kept it from tasting like a fruit salad.
Shellfish from local Carlsbad Aquafarm, farmed and harvested sustainably, has been appearing on a lot of menus lately, and that's a good thing, especially when it's prepared like it is are here, steamed with a sauce of green herbs, fennel, leek and orange. The baguettes at Roseville come from Con Pane, a bakery right across the street, and we asked for extra to properly mop up all the mussel broth.
Two in our group ordered the herb-crusted lamb rib eye, and if I can stop myself from getting the duck again next time, I'll choose this instead. The rib eye, basically a whole rib roast with the bones removed, is ridiculously tender and succulent, thickly sliced and served with light but full-flavored black-olive pan sauce and a layered casserole of summer squash. It's a great example of Provencal-inspired cuisine: just a handful of really good ingredients cooked simply—but not overcooked—to their delicious potential.
You'd think there'd be no room for dessert, but you'd be wrong, especially when another classic fave, crème caramel, is on the menu. The custard was pretty much textbook-perfect and probably done without the dense, nonessential brownie base. The lemon chiffon parfait of tangy citrus whipped cream was just the right texture, floating in a glass around raspberries, orange and grapefruit segments and served with two buttery lavender shortbread cookies.
The prices and setting here are of the special-occasion variety, but the food is worth a splurge; I've never come away with the indigestion that results from feeling cheated or dissatisfied. And there's a more casual bar area that overlooks the kitchen, a good place for light dinners and pre- or post-exercise snacks.
So what do you say, G, up for a “walk” in Point Loma?