After almost a week of pre and soft opening events and meals, Decoy Dockside Dining in Lake San Marcos is set to officially open tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30th. A sneak peek at some of Decoy Dockside Dining’s Executive Chef DJ Tangalin’s new menu reveals upscale offerings and recognizable ingredients with unique preparations and impressive flavors that haven’t been available on this scale, serving this region, since the long overdue demise of the old Quail’s Inn in the same location.
Decoy and Dockside are actually two different restaurants, with Decoy occupying the roomy, plush, detailed, glassed in main level dining room and bar, while Dockside is an open air dining experience complete with its own menu and 360 degree bar on the lower level, waterside.
There’s also a beautifully outfitted meeting/private party space on the lower level which can be booked for banquets and parties up to 25 or so people.
Having now toured the restaurant and kitchens about 3 times, including pre-opening, I’m amazed at how much design detail has been incorporated into the space. It’s a large space, which perhaps lends itself to such artfulness, but, last time I checked, there were a lot of large spaces around town that all look like the same ol’ reclaimed abandoned warehouses converted into dining rooms.
Kudos to the Eat. Drink. Sleep. design team for the tasteful and prolific decorations that range from the vintage buoys hanging over the bar area (which took me two hours to look up and notice) to the wall of plates (channeling fish scales), relief animal carvings and about a 20′ tall 3D fish sculpture hanging off the lake side of the building. Decoy and Dockside are worth a trip just to view some of the trip-py cool things they have hanging on the walls and from the ceilings.
The food…well, that was almost secondary to the coolness of the building…until we started eating it. The menu is simple, surprisingly so, but grabs your attention with a plethora of “must have” and “must try” items. No dictionary or internet needed to understand that all dishes are of the 99% variety – meaning that 99% of diners will recognize 99% of the meals being served. Nor is any coercion needed to get you to order pretty much one of everything.
The difference maker here, though, is that DJ has put his signature on each and every dish.
From perfectly seasoned and seared salmon served in cauliflower risotto, meaning the cauliflower has been finely shredded into a risotto – no rice needed and a play on Trout Almondine where the almonds are in the accompanying house made bread to vegetarian and vegan offerings, each plate and meal we enjoyed was interesting enough to spark conversation while remaining familiar and hearty enough to feel like a meal you wish you’d had before, and will likely enjoy many times over in the future.
The jury, in this case Lake San Marcos and North County residents who have been chomping at the bit for a fresh, upscale dining option, made its decision before the case was presented. It was an easy decision – solid management group, world class chef, local community engagement and thoughtful, careful design reflecting the unique character of the surrounding lakeside village, Decoy Dockside dining is guilty of being the new center of the universe…or, at least, center of the up and coming, newly rejuvenated Lake San Marcos.
Here’s the Rundown on Decoy Dockside Dining:
Waterfront property in inland San Diego North County is hard to come by, but Lake San Marcos offers serene views in a quiet, residential setting with all of the expected and some unexpected accoutrements – pontoon boats, kayaks and central fountain built especially to maximize viewing enjoyment from the restaurant. Adjacent, but not connected to the Lake House resort, Decoy Dockside Dining has its own parking lot and plenty of area to walk off the meal along the waterfront. It’s the perfect location in North County for any gathering of people from coastal to inland, not much more than a 15 minute drive from either.
Service is attentive and friendly. Silverware is magically refreshed and water glasses never fall below half full. There are stunners on the menu that range from Pacific island specialties to tried and true classics, all executed with the skill and verve that would be expected from a chef with DJ’s resume, which includes stints in Michelin starred restaurants on both coasts.
It’s easy to imagine having that special occasion dinner here or spending tons of happy hours sipping and chatting with small bites and cocktails. You can thank me later. Cheers, my friends!