Seafood, service and seasonal selections shine at Sally’s

By Kelley Carlson

From the ocean floor and straight to its door, Sally’s Seafood on the Water serves fresh catch from the local docks.

Located on the Manchester Grand Hyatt property with one of the largest downtown waterfront patios, the restaurant is conveniently just around the bend from the Chesapeake Fish Co., which has access to 90 vessels and processes seafood daily.

the diningroom features large windows with views of the marina. Kelley Carlson

“We want you to have the best quality, the best food you can get,” Chef-de-Cuisine Laura De Martin said.

Sally’s offers California/Mediterranean-style cuisine in an upscale-casual environment that is suitable for most, whether it’s couples on dates or families from out of town.

The upper-and-lower dining rooms are spacious with an industrial-yet-modern design. Large, vibrant, original paintings by artist Craig Kindel grace the walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows allow for plenty of sun by day.

In the evening, the lights dim and candles glow atop classic marble tabletops. Servers constantly traverse the marble-and-stone floor to check on guests and deliver dishes that are of high standards.

“Nothing goes out that’s ‘OK’ – it’s perfect or it’s not (going out to the table),” De Martin said.

Chili-marinated Alaskan Halibut, cilantro rice, roasted sweet peppers and cipollini, Mojo rojo.

The fare is made with sustainable, organic ingredients that are obtained as locally as possible; the menu changes seasonally in reflection of ingredient availability.

As guests sit at the table and peruse the menu, they can nibble on warm slices of Lemon Thyme Ciabatta, served with sweet butter and a mixture of sea salt and pink peppercorns to sprinkle on top.

To further whet their appetites, there are starters such as the creamy Smoked Bay Scallop Chowder with black pepper creme fraiche, and Shiitake Chicken Spring Rolls that can be dipped in a cilantro sauce. There are also several types of salads, including California Greens, with long cucumber slices, chunks of tomato and a light lemon-herb dressing.

Sally’s has a variety of entrees — including meat, vegetarian, and gluten- and dairy-free — but naturally, seafood is among its specialties. There’s the homemade Dungeness Crab Pasta, a unique combination with oven-dried tomatoes, corn gremolata, soft shell crab and bottarga; the tender Pacific Ahi Tuna on a bed of purple mashed potatoes in miso-mustard sauce; and delicate Diver Scallops in a miso-mustard sauce with thyme roasted carrots and sautéed broccolini.

Seared Skuna Bay Salmon, creamy polenta, sautéed mushroom, asparagus and pink peppercorn.

A staff-recommended wine that will pair with pretty much anything on the menu is The Four Graces Pinot Noir 2011 from Willamette Valley, Ore. The red wine is earthy, yet fruity.

To close out the meal, there are a number of desserts. Among them are the sweet-and-salty Crème Fraiche Pana Cotta, topped with black bowfin caviar and salted caramel sauce; the Creamsicle Gelato; and the Banana Trifle, featuring layers of banana mousse, chocolate cake and caramelized banana.

Children have two menus from which to choose: one designed by Alice Waters that consists of organic foods, and the other based on Sally’s entrees.

Lunch and dinner are served daily, and breakfast is offered during weekends.

For a special group dining experience, there’s a Chef’s Table next to the kitchen. Patrons can experience the sounds and sights of the chefs in action while dining from a five-course tasting menu that’s tailored to specifications with an optional wine pairing.

Those who are seeking a more laid-back setting can venture into the bar to catch the latest sports and news coverage on TV while nursing a local draft or a specialty cocktail, such as the carbonated Blueberry Mojito garnished with lime.

The Mambo Roll has cucumber on the inside, rice and seared Hamachi on the outside, and is topped with garlic-rayu and scallions.

But to truly get the essence of Sally’s, General Manager Chris Reid recommends sitting on the heated front patio for al fresco dining. The waterfront views are great for people watching, he said, and it’s dog-friendly. Live music from local bands nearby can be heard during the weekends, and as the weather warms, guests will also detect sounds from the Summer Pops concerts at the nearby Embaracadero park.

The patio is the perfect spot to nosh on Crab Cakes with tomato relish and avocado aioli, Reid said. He also suggests sampling the unusual Kazoo Roll, a mixture of salmon, mango, avocado, red-leaf lettuce and rice inside a soy wrap and topped with crushed pistachio.

Guests can self-park for free in the Hyatt garage for the first three hours with validation from Sally’s.

Sally’s Seafood on the Water

Address: 1 Market Place, San Diego

Phone: (619) 358-6740

Web: sallyssandiego.com

The Vibe: Upscale casual, classic

Signature Dishes: Crab Cakes, Baja Cobb Salad, Fish and Chips, Lobster Pot Pie (winter), Dungeness Crab Pasta

Open Since: 1992

Reservations: Yes

Patio Seating: Yes

Take Out: Yes

Tapas Hour: 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. daily

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10:30 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-10:30 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday

• On the Menu Recipe: Sally’s Seafood on the Water’s Crab Cake

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Posted by Staff on May 1, 2013. Filed under Food, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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