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Restaurant Review: Croce’s Park West

You mess around with Jim

You mess around with Jim

Croce’s Park West. That’s Jim Croce.

You don’t tug on Superman’s Cape

You don’t spit in the wind

You don’t pull the mask off the old lone ranger

And you don’t mess around with Jim.

There are two people that have sustained the Jim Croce name: Ingrid his wife and his son (who is also a musician), A. J.

I heard A.J. perform at The Belly Up in Solana Beach a while back, and while he is very talented and very hip for today’s world and music, I wish he would do a traveling ‘review’ doing his dad’s music, because the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, voice wise, and just like we go to all of our favorites from that time period, it would be such a treat to hear his dad’s music live again.

WHAT ABOUT THEIR FOOD, CHEF?

Ok. Back to food. You might know them from their location in the gas lamp that closed. Well, they’ve re-opened in Banker’s Hill and it’s all about comfort, this time around.

The chairs in ‘the music room’ are sooo comfortable. Better than a friends’ house. You just sink in and you’re comfy for the entire evening. Food wise? And it’s all about the Quail and Kale. Actually, I’ve got three things to recommend: The Quail, The Kale and a Good Wine from Italy.

Good Wine

Good Wine

Kale Salad at Croce's Park West

Kale Salad at Croce’s Park West

There’s plenty of places that have Kale Salad. But for the most part, they don’t balance it properly. The right Kale Salad uses baby Kale (remember that when you go to buy Kale at the grocery store), and for the most part other places I have eaten don’t pair cheese, nuts and pomegranate seed the way this restaurant does. When this salad is done right, each flavor blends but at the same time distinguishes itself.

I think it’s the lemon dressing that really pops the flavor of the Kale. And if you are trying to add a taste of health to the meal, this is the perfect addition.

Bravo to their GM and Sommelier. While they still have all kinds of pricing on wine (both less and more expensive, with good and better wines) he is brave enough to pair a really good but moderately priced wine ($38) from Piedmont with his customers’ favorite, their thick pork chop. (The Pork Chop is savory – all the right flavors – but that wine pairs brilliantly with the Quail as well).

Quail

Quail

I have eaten Quail all over the world, and this is the first time I have thought of it as ‘comfort’ food with a spicy kick. And what better way to offset it than to add a beautiful cucumber flower on one side, using the same ingredients you’ll find at Japanese restaurants…. mirin and sugar, plus peanuts in a caramelized sauce on other side. A bite of each and it’s amazing! Talk about a salty/spicy/sweet/sour combo that again hits every part of your palate! That’s a 10 for sure!

If you are with someone and your intention is to talk, take a table outside of the music room.  You can hear the music perfectly, but not be overwhelmed. But if you are big jazz buffs? And you want to get sucked into the ‘scene’? This certainly is a Jazz lover’s night out!

Happy Eating,

Chef Marian

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