October 25, 2022

I popped down to Addison, a 2-star restaurant from Chef William Bradley, after hearing tremendous things about it. Chef Bradley walked by a few times and was cheerful and welcoming - a guy definitely in control and comfortable in his skin.

Addison is found inside the The Fairmont Grand Del Mar, a posh and elegant hotel and golf club. It's quite a setting that I enjoyed walking around having purposely arrived early to do so. 

The space itself is simply exquisite. You can't help but gawk at every wall, ceiling, hallway and rug as you walk towards the dining room. Aside from the hostess (who was friendly, but seemed out of place), the staff completely followed suit. Formal to the nth degree - French formal - without being snooty. Service was tremendous with completely coordinated movements between servers. 

The food here was stellar. Truly remarkable. And I would add: incredibly generous for the price point. This is top-notch cooking by a chef and team that know what they're doing with ingredients and flavors. The first half of the meal was especially good, including an incredible kamache/pear "rose" in a bright, lemony vinaigrette - paired with one of the best wines (an Austrian Grüner Veltliner) that I have ever had. I had the middle pairing (of 3 options) and it was stellar start to finish.

The chawanmushi stole the show. It's one of the best dishes I have ever had.

Chawanmushi is a custard, typically augmented with other items. It is a versatile dish, allowing a good amount of creativity for the chef. This one had celtuce and other greens which provided an earthy "base" of flavor as well as textural contrast to the custard. The addition of uni added an unctous creaminess and salinity that made this cup of goodness soar to dizzying heights. It alone was worth the price of admission. 

Eggs and rice were also tremendous, with a smoked sabayon that shows incredible technique and vision. 

The latter half of the meal disappointed. I didn't understand the chips and dip - particularly its placement in the menu arc. Delicious for sure, but left me feeling quite confused as to where I was in the journey. A terrific fish dish in a clam butter sauce was followed by a thai coconut soup. While not my favorite flavor profile, the soup was delicious but seemed like a 3rd similar flavor profile with the bright white cream of the chips/dip, the white cream of the clam butter and now a white coconut soup. Once again, the menu arc confused. Had the chips been moved to the appetizers, or even as a pre-dessert, and the eggs/rice flowed into the fish, it would have provided a better path.  

The main proteins were perhaps the biggest disappointment. The BBQ squab made perfect sense on the plate and was well prepared, but underwhelmed a bit. I'm actually not sure why, but nothing about it (other than the confit leg) made you crave another bite. The wagyu was also disappointing eating as pure fattyness with little to no meat flavor to balance. Sure, it's A5 - marbling is central. But without beef flavor to offset that marbling, it comes off as a big piece of fat to chew through.

Desserts were beautiful but so insanely sweet and, therefore, lacked any flavor contrast between them. The beet tartlet being the exception, an uber-tart bite that I looked forward to ending.

While the finish of this meal didn't match the start, Addison is a worthy visit to be sure. The venue, service, menu - it all tells the same story. And it's a glorious rendition full of a clear and deep commitment to the overall experience. I would be very glad to return and experience future iterations of Chef Bradley's work and vision.

Tapache (Mexican) welcome drink. Lightly fermented pineapple, spices. The glass was chilled. (Their dishware was so beautiful!) Terrific opening.
An array of small bites is next. These were all fantastic! Oyster, champagne emulsion, tomato jelly...
Kampache ngiri, dashi...
Sage hill garden greens...
A5 tartare squid ink cracker squid ink mayo. WOW was this delicious...
Iberico ham, potato...
Chicken liver churros, bitter chocolate, cinnamon and sugar. Smart treatment.
Rose of sashimi kamachi, pickled pear, shiso ginger dressing. So superb. The vinaigrette was super bright and lemony and the individual layers of kamachi and pear was delightful. A bit difficult to eat as it didn't come apart so easily. Asked for a spoon so I could have every drop of that dressing.
Chawanmushi, Hokkaido uni and scallops, bok choy, celtuce and broccoli...
This is one of the best dishes I've ever had. The fresh earthiness from the celtuce was outstanding balance to the sweet scallops. Uni added an unctuous salinity. Absolutely brilliant. I couldn't get enough.
"Eggs and rice". Their signature. Reserved caviar, smoked sabayon, kosher fried rice...
A closer look. This was really delicious too. The smoked sabayon was out of the world.
"Chips and dip" was next. House made potato chips (perfectly done), paired with...
A dill and burnt onion cream, with caviar. You could smell the dill when they put it down. This was definitely yummy, but a confusing placement following the rich chawanmushi and eggs/rice. It was like a quick jaunt back to appetizers when your palate was ready for a solid protein.
Alfonsino (a fish from Japan), artichoke, fennel, radish...
Adding "clam butter"...
The resulting dish. Just luxuriously delicious. Great texture contrasts. Perfectly cooked fish.
Sourdough dating back to the 1800s served with goats milk butter and brown honey butter (not pictured). This bread was terrific.
The start of our next dish, thai basil, coriander...
Tom Kha Goong (a Japanese coconut broth soup). This seemed well done. It's not my favorite flavor profile so I didn't eat too much of this. It was served with...
Sweet and sour sweetbreads. Also not my favorite. And I wasn't sure I understood how this all went together.
The main dishes were up next. This BBQ squab, chanterelles, chantrelle puree, wild arugula. The confit leg was amazing. The rest of it kind of underwhelmed. I'm not really sure why...
We also got the wagyu supplement (with black garlic) and exchanged plates. My friend had never had wagyu and was kind of underwhelmed. (Typically, someone's first bite of wagyu is off the charts.) I tried it and, while wagyu is known for its marbling, this just tasted like fat. There was no meat/unctuousness to offset the fat. Really disappointing. Served with...
A dashi broth with maitake mushrooms. This was good, but again - didn't understand the pairing. Perhaps we were so let down from the proteins that this didn't live up either.
Palate cleanser. Lime and mint sorbet, compressed cucumber. "Our version of a mojito." Top notch. Can I make a palate cleanser one of my favorite dishes...?
Desserts arrived. Overall, each was just uber-sweet. Sugar with sugar on more sugar. It took some fortitude to get through. This one (Chocolate hazelnut crunch) was excellent, though VERY sweet...
Yuzu custard with matcha...
Wafer cone with fig and horchata mousse...
Beet tartlet. SO tart...
Textured honeycomb. I liked this one a lot, though it too was just so stinking sweet.
The dining room was truly spectacular, as were the grounds of this place (which is a golf club)...
The bar area too. It feels so luxurious yet inviting.

Comments

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.

Add A Comment

Replying to Steven Smith