First things first: happy Valentine’s Day, darlings. Yes, I realize today is a “Hallmark holiday,” but that didn’t dampen my joy to receive a bouquet of roses from Trader Joe’s and a box of my favorite chocolate hearts from my favorite boy.
These little unexpected gifts were but a precursor to the main Valentine’s event: dinner at Prepkitchen Little Italy, which I’ve been unabashedly eying since it hung its sign on India Street a few months back. (You may remember my “hello, darling” to Prepkitchen and my ode to its older and wiser sister restaurant, Whisknladleabout a month back.) Last night, my better half and I stopped by Little Italy’s newest addition to see how it compares to Whisknladle LLC’s other offerings in San Diego County.
We started with drinks: an Alesmith stout for him, and a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for the lady. For an appetizer, we moved on to the scallop crudo, a smattering of raw scallops peppered with kumquat shavings, fennel, celery, and tarragon and served with homemade sea salt crackers. The portion was fairly generous (as these things go), but more than once, my dear dining companion made such comments as “You’ve eaten ALL of that ALREADY?” and so forth. (I can’t help it; I know what I like.) I particularly enjoyed the herb accompaniments to the dish, accented by the sharp notes of tarragon and sour bits of kumquat rind.
When it came time to submit our entree order to our erstwhile server, I wavered between the butternut squash ravioli and the local swordfish, variations of which are both offered at Whisknladle in La Jolla. I ultimately settled on the former, which impressed with a few small reservations. I’ve had the dish in La Jolla, and found the butter and sage reduction a bit more decadent there. It was also evident that the ravioli had not been properly cut
prior to serving; several pieces were still joined together at the seams. If I had to guess, I’d say the ravioli had apparently been drained after boiling and weren’t separated on cooling, which caused many of the pieces to stick and clump together. But alas, I’m being picky. Prepkitchen is just two weeks old, and I think they’re still working through some growing pains. (Side note: the Montepulciano d’Abrruzo red pairly nicely with the browned butter and sage accompaniments.)
My husband tried the WNL burger, the sight of which made even this fairly dedicated pescetarian salivate. Gruyere, carmelized onion, and bacon flank the patty, which is topped by a fried farm egg. He deemed the burger “delicious,” which is pretty high praise from a guy who prefers to cook at home most nights. It was flanked by a plate of herbed fries, which I helpfully nibbled on throughout the meal.
For dessert, we settled on the bread pudding, which featured candied walnuts and dulce de leche and lightly smacked of banana (in a word,delish):
Finally, a note on Prepkitchen’s use of the second-floor space, which is nestled above a Yogurtland franchise and shoe store. My husband and I lived in the neighborhood when we first moved to San Diego, and saw many a business move into (and out of) Prepkitchen’s current residence. (Most recently, the space housed a water boutique. Can someone please explain that?) Whisknladle LLC appears to have completely gutted the space, which is now low-lit, warm, and features elements of reclaimed wood throughout. (I particularly loved the restrooms — yes, I said it — for the architectural plans scrawled on the walls.)
Over here at San Delicious, we’re just thrilled that Whisknladle LLC has set up shop in one of San Diego’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Welcome! Stay awhile, won’t you?