A Restaurant To Impress Family or Friends

| April 3, 2016 | 0 Comments
The salmon dish has an array of mouth-watering flavors for the palate.

The salmon dish has an array of mouth-watering flavors for the palate.

Residents of San Diego are very fortunate to live there. So often when I speak with people in other cities, particularly those who live in cold climates where the icy hand of winter comes sweeping over the mountains, I hear real envy in their voices. We do enjoy the best weather of the country.

But there’s a downside. Friends and relatives love to come to visit. So there is often a question of where to take them to best showcase the beauty of our city.

Top Of The Market is a definite good choice for enjoying the ocean, the sky, the views. It is a frequent favorite of the conventioneers who convene here. Whether bring a relative or simply enjoying an evening out, one can’t go wrong.

The Fish Market, one of San Diego’s premier seafood restaurants is located at the water’s edge in downtown San Diego, between Seaport Village and the Midway Museum, next to the huge statue of a sailor kissing a woman, similar to the iconic photo taken by Alfred Eisenstadt in Times Square when the Second World War ended in Europe.

The Fish Market is a casual restaurant, with a retail display and a casual menu. Top Of The Market is upstairs (there’s an elevator, if needed), a formal dining room with white tablecloths, a sophisticated menu, and views to die for. City lights can be seen on one side, the lights of Coronado are visible across the bay and sailboats, pleasure craft, cruise ships and the occasional aircraft carrier bristling with military might often steam on the waters. The view is transfixing, adding to the pleasure of the dining experience.

The entire restaurant, both upstairs and downstairs, have been recently renovated. A fire struck at the end of May, 2015 when an electric fan ignited. The restaurant was shut down for months. The downstairs area reopened last August and the “Top” reopened in time for last Christmas.
The new features to the “Top” include an upgraded patio, an outdoor firepit, improved interior décor and a “view” kitchen where diners can watch the busy cooks doing their magic.

Another change – there’s a new leader at the helm. The new chef is Stafford Mather, a self-taught culinary master who grew up in the Washington DC area, loving the seafood found on the eastern shores. His ideas for cuisine are fresh, his recipes are often original and his plating is beautiful. He’s very personable and enjoys mixing with his guests as much as he does working in the kitchen.

The focus of the food is obviously seafood, which is very fresh. The restaurant, in fact, has its own vessel that goes out to haul up, literally, the catch of the day. In addition, the restaurant has an appealing dessert menu and an excellent, fairly priced wine list. Suzzane Fish, the general manager, has been with the company for over 20 years and makes sure that guests leave the restaurant smiling. Service is attentive and excellent.

Many diners begin their evenings with selections from the raw bar, a listing of oysters and crab or prawn cocktails. The large chilled seafood platter includes half lobster.

The menu headings are starters, specialties and mesquite grilled. Soups and salads are listed as well. There are also chicken, lamb and filet dishes for diners who want to pass on the delights of the seafood.

Ahi Tuna Crudo which is raw but “cooked” needs to be absolutely fresh for preparation. This starter was amazing, flavorful and firm. Brussels sprouts are the new “in” dish for millenials and the health conscious. This delicious starter, served “crispy” with yogurt , blended beautifully with the tartness and crunch of pomegranate seeds. A third starter to tease the palate was the pears and burrata. The fruit was sweet and succulent. The burrata, a combination of mozzarella and cream cheeses was firm on the outside shell and moistly creamy on the inside.

Striped sea bass, tiger shrimp and Alaska king crab are available on the specialties menu. But the sauteed New Bedford sea scallops grabbed me – seared on the surface and firm throughout – so well prepared. Mesquite grilled local swordfish – probably caught earlier that day – had great flavor and texture. Close your eyes and it could be a fabulous steak. That was paired with an excellent Ramey Chardonnay.

With seafood, not all items may be available at all times. It depends what “is running” and seasonal. But Scottish Salmon was on the menu that evening and it was not to be missed — firm texture but moist and brimming with healthful omega 3’s. The paired ZD Pinot Noir Caneros really helped all the flavors come through.

Finally, the apricot parfait – a layered multi-colored serving of sweet delight – that accompanied a cappuccino really helped bring an amazing dinner to a close.

Whether to impress out of town visitors or simply to bask in the joy of outstanding cuisine by Chef Mathers and creative wine pairings by sommelier Erica Bravo — with great ambiance, views and service – dining at Top Of The Market can be the right choice. Prices are moderate to high but certainly worth the experience.

Top Of The Market is open for lunch and dinner daily. Reservations are recommended. There is valet parking and also meter parking on the large lot but be careful to feed the meters enough. The restaurant is located at 750 North Harbor Drive. Reservations may be made online or by calling (619) 232-3474.

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