By Kelley Carlson
By Kelley Carlson
A seafood lover in San Diego doesn’t have to travel far to enjoy edible crustaceans from all over the world. Truluck’s is a high-end establishment that offers fare from waters near and far, along with steaks. But it especially stands out for its crab.
“Our No. 1 point difference (from other seafood and steak houses) is that we are committed to buying the best crab that money can buy from around the globe,” said Todd Perry, managing partner of Truluck’s La Jolla location.
The privately held chain — which has nine additional restaurants in Florida and Texas — obtains much of its crab from the fisheries it owns in south Florida. Truluck’s operates 30 boats that catch Florida stone crabs daily. The crustaceans are cooked on the dock, packed in ice and jetted to the restaurants, less than 24 hours after they are trapped.
Along with Florida stone crab, the La Jolla site serves Pacific stone crab, which it buys from an exclusive source. The establishment also sells “the largest Alaskan red king crab legs you can buy,” Perry said.
Crab may be Truluck’s main focus, but other types of sustainable seafood are popular with guests, as well. One is the tender Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass (MSC certified), which rests on a bed of signature crab fried rice and practically melts in one’s mouth. Another is the Skuna Bay Salmon Bearnaise, featuring a mild, buttery and firm fish that is marbled with thin layers of fat and raised in glacier-fed Canadian waters. The dish is served with Parmesan mashed potatoes, and topped with jumbo-lump blue crab that has been sauteed in butter, Laughing Bird shrimp and a jalapeño-Bearnaise sauce.
Truluck’s offers an array of other items, as well -- from the Center Cut-Filet and Angus All Natural Ribeye steaks, to soups and greens such as the Wedge Salad, a combination of iceberg lettuce, blue cheese, bacon and tomato.
Desserts are made from scratch in the pastry kitchen, including the rich Chocolate Bag, stuffed to the top with moist chunks of almond pound cake, cream cheese icing, whipped cream, macerated berries and accented with a sprig of mint.
As for drinks, there are classic cocktails and martinis in varieties such as brambleberry, tiramisu and the Manhattan. And the establishment is noted for its wine list; it has won Wine Spectator Magazine’s Award of Excellence every year since it opened. There are more than 100 vintages by the sample, glass and bottle, and several sommeliers on staff.
Perry acknowledges that Truluck’s is “pretty pricey” by most standards, but there are offers that make the restaurant very attractive. Happy hour is celebrated daily with half-price appetizers and cocktails. Also, every evening is “date night,” allowing a couple to choose soup or salad, an entree and a shared dessert for about $40 per person.
Monday is all-you-can-eat stone crab -- Florida or Pacific, depending on the season -- when a person can feast on all the claws, soup, salad and sides they can manage in a sitting for $59. Finally, 50 sommelier-selected bottles of wine are sold for half-price on Wednesdays.
Such promotions, combined with the quality of the dining, draw favorable reviews from critics and customers. “We have enjoyed incredible success here,” Perry said, citing “best of the best” awards from local publications over the last few years.
In addition to accolades for its cuisine and wine, the restaurant has been lauded for its service style. “We practice a particular brand of Southern hospitality,” Perry said. “We’re very fortunate to have some of the best service staff in the country.”
Friendly faces are stationed throughout the establishment, which showcases a timeless and classic decor that includes mahogany millwork and cove lighting. Hostesses greet patrons in the lobby, where there is a live crab tank and fresh crab displays. Servers attend to everyone’s needs, whether they are seated in one of the deep, semicircular leather booths in the dimly lit main dining room, which is accented with tubes of floating white orchids, mirrors and mounted fish; the golden-hued Hemingway Room, a private dining area with a built-in, big-screen TV that has the latest in audio-visual capabilities; or the two fully heated outdoor patios with fire pits.
In the lounge, bartenders shake things up behind an illuminated onyx bar as a TV broadcasts the latest sporting events. And every evening, there is live entertainment from saxophonist/pianist Archie Thompson or jazz pianist Ray Breeze. Reservations are highly recommended at Truluck’s. For couples on a date, Perry suggests requesting a booth with a view of the piano.
Address: 8990 University Center Lane, La Jolla
The Vibe: Intimate, romantic, business casual, classic
Signature Dishes: Stone crab
Open Since: 2009
Patio Seating: Ye
s Take Out: Yes Happy Hour: 4:30-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday Hours: 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday Parking: $8 valet or free spaces along University Center Lane On The Menu Recipe
Take Out: Yes
Happy Hour: 4:30-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday
Hours: 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday
Parking: $8 valet or free spaces along University Center Lane
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: Truluck's La Jolla Pan-Seared Soft Shell Crab in Brown Butter Lemon-Caper Sauce