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Side Table delivers whimsy, education

In early April, George’s At The Cove owner George Hauer drew on the strengths of his executive chef Trey Foshee to provide the first in a series of unique dining experiences. Dubbed SideTABLE, the event took place in the Modern Bar at George’s California Modern, the fine dining component of George’s triple-tiered venue. Groups of 10 saddled up in rows at two long tables for a communal experience where they were able to get to know each other every bit as much as the night’s theme - the history of San Diego’s fishing culture from the first Italian and Portuguese families to today’s modern fishing industry.

In order to ensure guests would extract all they could from the evening, Hauer reached out to a friend and industry expert he has been working with for 25 years - Judd Brown, the owner of Pacific Shellfish Seafood Company. And on this night, he did more than procure the finest of the day’s catch. He also put in an order for knowledge.

“This night is about education,” said Hauer, who intends to have a changing panel of aficionados present at each SideTABLE event to respond to questions from diners and provide insight into their individual areas of expertise.

“SideTABLE was inspired by us wanting to have an outlet for the ideas that don’t fit into our everyday menu. We want to strengthen our relationship with our guests who want a deeper relationship with the restaurant and food,” explained Foshee, who appreciates those who share his interest and passion for food.

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The evening started with guests from different walks of life discussing everything from business to art to politics. But as soon as the first course was presented, general socializing gave way to poignant, inspired discussion revolving around the night’s meal, a seven course tour de force featuring seafood harvested exclusively from local waters. Foshee certainly had a plentiful bounty at his disposal, which made it all the more interesting that he chose to use a number of rarer gems of the sea.

“He is using fish most people think of as bait or fish that is canned, but [those fish] are big in Spain and the rest of Europe,” explained Brown after dining on the first of the offerings, which included anchovy-stuffed olives and a crostini topped with American pole caught albacore tuna … from a can. Both appetizers were every bit as scrumptious as they were surprising. But Foshee was only getting started.

Uncommon delicacies such as uni (sea urchin roe) and unexpected items such as mackerel were presented with savory appeal.

Other awe- and conversation-inspiring courses included lime-cured fluke ceviche with avocado over tortilla-crusted fluke, grilled spot prawns and yellow mouth corvina with artichoke, peas, green garlic and an imaginative chorizo foam and white sea bass over house-made fregola in a spiced shellfish broth exhibiting magnificent depth of flavor.

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Foshee made himself available throughout the meal to run through not only the ingredients and flavors of each dish, but the inspiration for them as well.

“We want to explore subjects and connect with our guests that want to explore food in a more experimental way,” said Foshee. “When a guest goes through an experience like SideTABLE, I hope they feel a profound connection to the restaurant.”

The next chance for diners to experience SideTABLE will be June 2 and 3 when Foshee and his staff create a vegetarian meal based on seasonal offerings from local producers such as Chino Farms and Crow’s Pass.

“This year, we are planning a Piedmontese winter dinner of game, truffles and mushrooms. We have several cooks and sous chefs from the south, so we thought we would (also) explore where truly American food comes from. We also want to do a writers series that allows us to showcase our favorite food writers and their recipes.”

George’s California Modern is located at 1250 Prospect St. For reservations, call (858) 454-4244 or visit

www.georgesatthecove.com

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