Adams Avenue Grill is a tiny gem located in the University Heights neighborhood of San Diego. Aptly located on Adams Avenue, if you’re driving over the speed limit, you’re bound to drive right by it without realizing it. The restaurant blends in with the homes in the neighborhood and the only downside about this restaurant is the parking–there is no dedicated parking and you’ll have to compete for a spot amongst the home owners, apartment dwellers and small businesses that line the semi-busy street (thank goodness it isn’t located on El Cajon Boulevard, the next major street south of the restaurant).
With that little nit out of the way, I can now focus on the restaurant. When you enter, it’s as if you’re walking into someone’s home. Its bungalow facade really does blend it with the neighborhood and the atmosphere is casual and comfy. It was the Fourth of July weekend and I was meeting old friends of mine from my high school days for dinner on a Saturday night. I’ve been to Adams Avenue Grill on several occasions in the past and felt that it was time that the restaurant and I got reacquainted again. That and I’ve been craving their House Made Goat Cheese Fritters like you wouldn’t believe!
I was looking forward to dinner and of course seeing my friends. We were a small group of four. The guys had already arrived and were waiting on me and my friend Anita. We were actually on one of the side streets and I was attempting to parallel park my car in a space that I had found across from the restaurant and was failing miserably. I was given a reprieve when a family of four came out of the restaurant and left me with the most perfect parking space which didn’t require my blood pressure to elevate a few hundred points!
We were seated in a corner table by the window. Our server, Tiffany, introduced herself and presented us with menus which we began to study in earnest. Other than Anita who opted for ice water, the guys and I ordered a glass of wine to enjoy with our dinner. I ordered the Concannon Chardonnay, Jessie ordered the Santa Barbara Pinot Noir and Glyn opted for the Moscata D’Italia’s Sweet White Wine. The restaurant carries a wide variety of white and reds and I was impressed with their selections.
With wine in hand we were now ready to order appetizers and dinner entrees. Adams Avenue Grill offers an eclectic menu ranging from inventive appetizers, fresh salads to soups and sandwiches, comfort foods, sophisticated dinner entrees and vegetarian options. They even offer gourmet pizzas and burgers and have a separate menu for breakfast and one for lunch.
Glyn and I have eaten at the restaurant several times and we knew that one of the appetizer items that we definitely wanted to order was the House Made Goat Cheese Fritters, slow roasted carmelized walnuts combined with fresh chopped rosemary and homemade goat cheese served with red pepper couli ($11). Jessie suggested the Pacific Crab Cakes, three generous portions of shredded crab and minced scallops combined with seasonings and fresh herbs and coated with Japanese panko breadcrumbs served alongside with with Wasabi cocktail sauce and drizzled with a bit of a balsamic vinaigrette reduction ($10).
The fritters were prepared and served differently from what I remembered. Glyn and I agreed that its predecessor was breaded with panko crumbs and crisped golden brown. This newer version reminded me of mini fish filets that were dipped in beer batter and fried. I did like these but I preferred the crispier texture of the prior version. The crab cakes on the other hand were perfect and its coating and texture should have been the coating and texture on the goat cheese fritters. The cakes were served with a little side salad. It was very yummy and paired well with my Concannon Chardonnay.
Now let me cut to the chase and get to our dinner order…and there many selections to choose from. Our server Tiffany did a wonderful job in presenting the specials of the day down to the very last detail of each dish. I was impressed! Anita chose Tuscany’s Stuffed Chicken Breast, an oven roasted chicken breast stuffed with grilled red pepper, spinach, smoked bacon, mushrooms and feta cheese coated in a Chardonnay-garlic sauce served with sauteed vegetables and rosemary potatoes.
Jessie opted for the Snake River Flat Iron, a juicy flat iron grilled steak topped with garlic butter and crispy panko onion rings. It is also served with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.
Glyn opted for comfort food and ordered the Chunky Bacon & Smoked Bacon Soup and the Macaroni and Cheese with Grilled Chicken. The applewood smoked bacon provides a sweet carmelized flavor to this thyme infused soup with chunks of tomato and the macaroni and cheese has been reinvented to include parmesan, swiss, cheddar and monterey jack cheeses served in a creamy sauced and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. You can add grilled chicken or grilled sausage for an additional $3. You can also order a full or half order.
I ordered one of the specials and for the life of me, can’t remember what the actual name of the dish was! I should have written it down and not relied on my memory! What a faux pas for a food blogger! But I can tell you this–it reminded me of chicken saltimbocca, three very tender, generous portion-sized chicken medallions topped with buffalo mozzarella and proscuitto with a light sauce and served with grilled asparagus and roasted red potatoes. Absolutely delicious!
We enjoyed our dinner entrees and made sure that we made room for dessert. Our server Tiffany took the time to explain each dessert. We decided to go with two choices for the four of us to share. Anita wanted to try the Lavender-Infused Creme Brulee, a rich custard infused with the delicate flavor of fresh lavender blooms. A great choice and we were all in agreement. The hardest part was choosing the second dessert and it had to be chocolate. Of course there were only two choices so Jessie made the decision to order both, in addition to the Creme Brulee. We protested, saying it was way too much but he insisted and said that he would finish off whatever we couldn’t eat. We didn’t argue so in addition to the Creme Brulee, we ordered the Milky Way Tart which was layered with sea-salted caramel, chocolate mousse and vanilla mouse on a chocolate shortbread crust and garnished with chocolate shavings. Absolutely sinful and full of flavor. Our favorite of the three desserts. The third and final dessert was the Chocolate & Run Marbled Butter Cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Decadent!
This neighborhood restaurant serves up sophisticated fare and is diverse enough to please just about every type of palate. I highly recommend this restaurant and I encourage you to try it. Your taste buds will not be disappointed!
ADAMS AVENUE GRILL
2201 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116