It took a couple of seconds after walking into Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant to realize we’d been here before. A couple of years ago when we did our “Something New” marathon of eventually dining at 190 new & unique places during the calendar year, everything became a blur.
Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant was comfortably nestled somewhere in the tangle of memories of that year and, since they were only 6-7 minutes from Old Globe Way, they were a perfect choice for dinner before heading to watch a pretty cool play, “A Tokyo Fish Story” about, what else…food!
Since we had to hop over to the theatre, we skipped right to the food. This was our first softshell crab of the season. Everything about it seemed wrong when reading it on the menu. My first thought was that mango, coconut, and ginger with Bok Choy slaw and lemongrass vinaigrette seemed like a Thai/Pacific fusion nightmare waiting to happen. How in the world was I supposed to taste the crab through that mess?
There I go thinking again.
This is one of those dishes that can define a style and have you talking about it for years to come. Not only did all the flavors work well together, they continued to mingle with each successive stabbing of the fork into the pile, as the lemongrass vinaigrette eventually oozed into the bed of mango and coconut ginger broth, creating a tantalizing citrusy, milky, sweet yet light brew that ended up being a perfect accent to the lightly fried, tempura crab.
Even now, looking at the picture, I stand by my original assessment. How did this dish work? I don’t know, but it did – with ruby red flip flops on. It was creative, utilizing classic Pacific Rim flavors in a unique way that, somehow, accented rather than overwhelmed the luscious and savory crab.
These were good fries, skinny, shoestring, the right amount of crisp and most importantly, about a half keg of truffle aioli. The picture is a bit deceiving – this was a large enough portion of fries that two french fry McLovin freaks couldn’t finish them. The ramekin pictured here is not the thimble sized that many establishments provide but more like a 2 or 3 oz giant that was generously filled. Even then, we asked for a little extra, because you gots to have sumthin to dip dem sticks into.
Add an egg to this dish (if only I had thought of asking when I ordered it) and it would be a freakshow of a take on chilaquiles. First impressions of this Tomatillo Braised lamb dish were that it was going to be a soupy, slippery mess since everything was served in a bed of not very firm whipped potatoes.
Wrong, again. Ouch, but Yay!
The lamb, with its slightly spicy, pungent and acidic tomatillo salsa was fork tender, which allowed it to be picked at lightly and co-mingled with other ingredients at will. The crispy fried tortilla strips provided just the right amount of textural accent to the dish while the potatoes acted as a savory, light binder that helped glue all of the flavor elements together.
It was a meat and potatoes kind of night. Fluffy Unicorn loves her some caramelized onions on big hunk of burnin’ love. This perfectly cooked skirt steak had just the right amount of both applied – onions and sear – along with lightly sauteed broccolini and a light as air twice baked potato with all the fixin’s.
And, I got to eat what she didn’t…it helped to round out a somewhat light but eminently satisfying pre-theatre dinner as well as my pleasantly rotund and slightly girlish figure.
Here’s the Rundown on Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant:
Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant is, surprisingly, located in Bankers Hill, on 4th St., out of the fray and away from the crowds, but still within rock throwing distance of anything you might be headed to in San Diego. Street parking is plentiful. The atmosphere in the restaurant is casual with a large open dining room and a prominent bar. Two tops are set up a bit strangely in the middle of the floor, right along the bar rail, which leaves you feeling a bit exposed with the bar crowd at your back and servers and staff racing up and down the aisles at your front, but the food quickly takes your mind off of that.
Cocktails, of which we had a few, were excellent here. There were several house takes on some classics and all were very well executed. The food is definitely thoughtful and prepared with a high standard in mind. This probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering that Chef Carl Schroeder of The Market in Delmar is one of the principals.
Appetizers ranged from $9-$12 and entrees varied from $16-$28.
Table and drink service were both efficient and excellent, relieving us of any anxiety of being late for phase two of our date night.
All in all, this is a nice, casual dining experience just a bit off the beaten path. It’s a wonderful and affordable opportunity to taste gourmet platings at almost the same level as The Market in a much more casual setting. Enjoy and Cheers, my friends!
2202 4th Avenue
San Diego CA 92101