Del Mar’s Searsucker opens with focus on families
By Kelley Carlson
When Searsucker opened in Del Mar Highlands Town Center this summer, the idea was to create an atmosphere that was better suited to the community than its predecessor, Burlap.
Burlap (like Searsucker, a member of Brian Malarkey and James Brennan’s Enlightened Hospitality Group) had evolved into a bar scene, and there wasn’t much separating the diners from the social drinkers. “We’re in a neighborhood in the suburbs; we’re trying to cater to families,” said Chef de Cuisine Andy “Dizzle” Philips.
So while there is still a bar at Searsucker, it’s tucked into the side of the restaurant, and the main dining room is now the focus. Similar in style to the other Searsucker locations in downtown San Diego; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Austin, Texas; the Del Mar site incorporates round lights, ropes and antlers into its decor — a nod to Malarkey’s penchant for the West — along with the signature “Eat” signs.
Searsucker Del Mar is the first to offer a kids menu, which ranges from a simple kale-based salad with tomato and “rodeo dressing” (aka ranch) to chicken meatballs. The meals are accompanied by a Cookie Monster Sundae.
In the 300-seat restaurant, a private dining room is enclosed by glass so guests can enjoy a quieter experience, yet still observe all the activity.
In the back of the establishment is a covered patio, where children can feed koi and groups often convene to celebrate special occasions.
And in the bar — which has a newly added skylight — patrons can share bites at the community tables, gather around the fire pit, or lounge in couches while taking advantage of happy hour or Monday Night Football specials.
Things kick up a notch with live entertainment from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. The music genres encompass everything from blues and rock to classical and flamenco.
Philips said he created the adult menu borrowing ideas from the Searsucker sites in San Diego and Austin, but with more of a surf-and-turf theme overall, paying homage to the nearby racetrack and the coastline.
The guests’ dinner experience often begins when servers clad in searsucker aprons deliver small bites such as Cheddar Puffers or appetizers that include the skewered Farm Bird Lollipops, a blend of chicken and chorizo covered in a spicy sauce with bleu cheese crumbles; or mussels that are soaked in a beer broth with rabe and tomato. Or perhaps a patron might prefer a watermelon and mixed greens salad sprinkled with feta.
The main dishes are served solo, but can be paired with sides that are sold separately. One suggestion is the Mahi “blackened” with chipotle, bleu cheese butter, tomatoes and bells, served with a bowl of jalapeño- chorizo “corn off the cobb.”
For some serious comfort food, there’s the aptly named Pork Butt — braised, tender meat with peach slices and bacon emulsion, which can be ordered with green beans, mushrooms and cream, a take on the casserole often served at Thanksgiving.
There are plenty of other selections, from crowd favorites Scallops “diver” and New York “classic” steak to raw bar items such as oysters and the kobe carpaccio.
Libations to accompany entrees include wines, which are half-priced on Tuesdays; local brews; and “infusion” cocktails such as the Lt. Dan, a potent mix of sweet tea vodka and lemonade; and the Jalaberry Strawpeño, which mixes strawberry jalapeño tequila with pressed lime and agave nectar. For health-conscious consumers, there are Sujas — raw, cold, pressed juices that combine fruits, vegetables and spices.
There are a half-dozen desserts, including the bacon brownie with peanut butter chocolate mousse, bacon-peanut brittle and a scoop of malt chocolate ice cream.
The restaurant also presents brunch on Sundays, and a lunch menu on weekdays that predominantly consists of salads, specialty sandwiches and burgers.
Searsucker Del Mar
Address: 12995 El Camino Real, Del Mar/Carmel Valley
Phone: (858) 369-5700
The Vibe: Casual, classic, trendy
Signature Dishes: Crab Cake Jumbo Lump and Tabasco Caviar; Short Rib ‘Hunter,’ Horseradish and Fried Onion; Egg and Bacon “Pork Belly”; Shrimp “Spicy” and Bacon Grits
Open Since: 2013
Patio Seating: Yes
Happy Hour: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Hours: Lunch-11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; Dinner-5 to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Brunch-10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.
This week: Seersucker’s Crab Cakes.
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