Mission Bay, San Diego
One of the nearest far away places in San Diego is Paradise Point. It evolved under new management from Vacation Village, a venue to which my parents brought us from Buffalo eons ago. Both names are accurate, but in recent years I was never able to try their fine dining restaurant Baleen.
I recently rectified that, and wish I had not waited so long. The restaurant’s tagline ‘serious food, whimsical mood’ is spot on. What had been formerly the Presidential Suite was converted to a bay front restaurant, capturing the South Sea motif of the resort. Bamboo and palm fronds were subtly arrayed around the periphery. The westward facing terrace is ideal for sunset dining, which is where we found ourselves one fine August evening. A few late paddleboarders and crew teams glided by as we perused the eclectic menu.
The lobster bisque was smooth, if a bit thick, but the chunks of New England lobster and crème fraiche were lovely accompaniments. Our other starter was steamed Carlsbad mussels and clams, which was delightful with a chorizo and salsa verde. Next time I will want to try the seared scallops with a kumquat-Chardonny glaze.
It was difficult choosing from the fine array of entrees, but we settled on herb crusted sea bass and tomato and molasses glazed Scottish salmon. The former featured a marscapone polenta with mushrooms, roasted garlic and beurre rouge. The bass was flaky and delicate. My wife’s salmon was a divine blend of flavors – fennel, chayote and green apple. Seafood is the operative choice at Baleen, but landlubbers also have choices of slow roasted chicken and angus filet mignon with Point Reyes blue cheese butter. Each of the entrees can be ordered simply wood roasted.
The wine list was robust, and the desserts were suitably diverse. General Manager Chris Kindig oversees a gracious service staff. But it is Chef Aaron Braun’s eclectic menu that will bring people back.