Brockton Villa — Perfect Summer Evenings

| August 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

“We live in paradise!” my companion said as she gazed into the glowing sunset. She watched the sky turn from golden to purple as our big yellow solar ball plunged slowly over the horizon’s cliff. We listened to the barking of seals sheltered in the La Jolla Cove, preparing for the night. It was truly idyllic.

Tourists are still coming to San Diego, though perhaps in fewer numbers because of our lagging economy. Similarly, many resident San Diegans are enjoying “staycations” rather than traveling away, although it can be hard to understand why anyone would want to leave “paradise” even in good times.

But a “staycation” can really be fun if one becomes a “tourist” in one’s city, enjoying all the sights, sounds and attractions which people come from distant places to enjoy. The beaches, the zoo, the shopping centers , the restaurants — they are all out there to be savored, even on limited budgets.

One of the activities that should not be missed is dining at Brockton Villa. This wonderful restaurant is located with an unimpeded view of the ocean. Pedestrian meander on the cobblestone-type street below, enjoying the sunshine and the breezes that sweep over the waves. Tourists on Segway vehicles come by to see the view while experiencing the bumpy ride.

Guests can expect a perfect setting and great dining experience.

The restaurant sits on the side of a hill, up a white picket staircase. Brockton Villa appears home-like because it was once actually a home, a historic dwelling. It was built over 115 years ago as a weekend retreat. In 1900, the then-owner named it “Brockton Villa” in recognition of her youth in Brockton, Massachusetts. A fireplace was built in 1920 and was decorated with large, rare abalone shells. It still stands today. Over the years, with a succession of owners, the property became dilapidated.

Then Pannikin Coffee, the popular coffee purveyor, purchased the property in 1990 and lovingly restored it. The job was so good that the company won the prestigious architectural Orchid Award in 1993 for historic preservation. The property was acquired by Megan Heine, the Pannikin vice-president, who changed it to a full service restaurant that now serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

The creative and personable chef, Mareyja Sisbarro, incorporates fresh local ingredients in three separate menus that present an eclectic blend of dishes. Whether enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner, guests can experience wonderful varieties of flavors and large portions. Sisbarro trained at the celebrated Johnson & Wales, inspired to enter the culinary field by making donuts as a teenager working for Dunkin’ Donuts in her home town. After arriving in San Diego, she worked for the Cohn Restaurant Group, several hotels and then at Beaumont’s, which is also owned by Megan Heine. She loves working at Brockton Villa, though. “Look at what I see every day,” she smiled, waving at the view.

The restaurant is very popular for breakfast. “Coast toast,” a rich dish similar to a soufflé and a selection of “steamers” (3 steam scrambled eggs, prepared without butter or oil) bring the crowds in. “Coast Toast” is so loved that its recipe was posted online.

Lunches feature a variety of salads and sandwiches. Crab cake sliders, grilled fish tacos and turkey breast sandwich are very popular. Or, try the “epic chowder” that contains clams, crab, bacon and even potato. That’s a very filling dish.

My personal favorite meal, though, is dinner. I love to sit on the patio and enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and sense of relaxation, as the day winds down to evening. The dinner menu offers “tastings,” smaller dishes that can be shared or made into a meal. Among these, macadamia nut crusted scallops add a crunch texture to the firm scallop flesh. grilled drunken shrimp, served with crème fraiche and melon and avocado salsa, is paired with tomato gazpacho.

Salmon comes dressed to perfection.

Entrees are larger and include a superb Salmon, tasty rack of lamb, a great and gluten free vegetable pasta, and a half chicken dish whose flavors are strongly enhanced by the accompanying salsas. Following all that, it is delightful to linger over dinner, watch the sunset and dive in to the best bread pudding & vanilla.

Feel like something is missing in a “staycation”? Make it memorable by dining at Brockton Villa. Prices are moderate and won’t break a budget. Brockton Villa is located at 1235 Coast Blvd in La Jolla. There is only street parking available. Call (858) 454-7393 for information or reservations.

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