Champion Quality — The Patio on Goldfinch

| September 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

A champion is a winner. Gina Champion-Cain is a winner in much more than name. She’s a winner in her real estate business, her lifestyle branding and marketing, and her ventures into retail marketing, Over the past several years she has also established herself as a winner in the local restaurant business.

About 15 months ago, she opened The Patio on Lamont. She took a long established and quiet location, the Lamont Grill, and transformed it into an exciting new concept of casual neighborhood dining that has won the hearts and stomachs of a cadre of devoted fans.

Now she has almost duplicated her ideas at a second location, The Patio on Goldfinch, in Mission Hills. Almost duplicated, that is. The menu on Goldfinch emphasizes more seafood dishes. But most of the ideas, the menu style and the welcoming spirit are the same.

For example, take the restaurant’s attitude towards pets. The patio at The Patio is pet-friendly. Patrons may enjoy their meals with their dogs at their feet, praying for handouts.

Mission Hills has become a revived center for dining. Over 30 years ago, dining at The Baker in the Forest restaurant was one of the reasons that I moved to San Diego from Los Angeles. But the area went downhill for a number of years. Now it is wonderful to see the area springing back to life.

Champion-Cain employed highly creative talent to build her new location. They have given the venue a light, casual and comfortable ambiance that takes full advantage of long days, balmy evenings and the best weather in the country. The patio at The Patio is open to the sky (although a retractable cover is in the offing) and has a “living wall” of foliage along one side. Is the air better because the living wall oxygenates the patio? It is easy to believe that.

The interior narrows — probably to make room for the kitchen — but then expands again as one goes further back into the restaurant. A long bar runs along one side of the interior. The kitchen itself is “open”, if one enjoys watching the hustle of chefs preparing fine food. There is even a chefs table at the rear — seating to a maximum of four – if diners want ringside seats to the action. It is delightful when the chef discusses at the chefs table his culinary ideas and sometimes even prepares special delights. A cheese room sits almost center stage inside, a small glass enclosed room with racks chilling wheels of cheese rather than wine. The air inside is moldy in a most enjoyable, mouthwatering way.

The executive chef is John Medall. He focuses on quality of ingredients, freshness and sustainability. The slogan of The Patio is “relax-enjoy-share.” The sharing part is achieved by the organization of the menu into appropriately size dishes.

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu has such items as a breakfast sandwich, with eggs and bacon. Omelets, frittatas and flatbreads are available. Shrimp and grits can even be ordered.

Lunch eaters can enjoy compressed watermelon or hearts of palms salads. Hamburgers, sandwiches, poke tacos and a variety of flatbreads can also allay mid-day hunger pangs.

A good way to start dinner is with a cheese board. This is almost like a cheese flight. The board comes with a selection of three cheeses, toast upon which to place the slices, and selections of fruit. There usually isn’t enough cheese to ease the appetite. Rather, the effect is to tingle and tantalize the palate for the pleasures to come.

Bread is ordered separately. Monkey bread, freshly made so it takes a few minutes to arrive, comes in a bowl from which the pieces separate easily. The bread has a unique flavor, made with vanilla ice cream and mascarpone and served with mascarpone butter.

The wine list features many unusual choices but bottles are well priced. Of course, they are listed and well described under “white, red and dessert” categories. A good way to work through the wine list is to try some wine flights, 3 half-glasses that may be mixed and matched, to find the right wine for the meal. There is also a good list of beers from which to choose, all also well described.

Finally, don’t forget about tequila. There is an amazing selection of tequila, running from “inexpensive to very expensive” and even a resident expert to help guests choose.

Dinner entrees include abalone, grilled shrimp, flatbreads, salads and several meat dishes like rib eye and short rib. My personal favorite is the pork shank, with the succulent meat falling off the bone into a bed of absolutely delicious risotto.

The Patio has just opened the Front Pork, which is located at the end of the block. This is a small very upscale retail operation that also offers pre-prepared foods from The Patio.

There is a daily happy hour offering specials. Happy hour is from 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to closing. Brunch is featured on weekends. Valet parking saves the need to drive around the block repeatedly, looking for a space. To me, that’s a real plus.

All in all, The Patio offers a very enjoyable dining experience. The ambiance is wonderful, the food is good. The plating and presentation are fabulous, as is the service. The pleasure derived from “Relax-Enjoy-Share” is seen in the numbers of diners making reservations or waiting at the door.

Prices are at the high side of moderate. And, don’t expect a lot of food for the money. But the quality, the ambiance and the service make it worthwhile.

The Patio on Goldfinch is located at 4020 Goldfinch in Mission Hills, just off Washington. Call (619) 501-5090 for information and, most assuredly, for reservations.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Business, Local News

About the Author ()