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.
Replying to Steven Smith