We LOVE this new restaurant!! OK, first...rewind - A few weeks back I got a random email (I think somehow linked to/from groupon) that was advertising 80% off restaurant.com gift certificates. Anything 80% off has to be worth looking into! The website basically sells discounted gift certificates ($25 for $10 for example) so I snatched up about $300 worth of certificates for under $40!! It has all kinds of restaurants, casual to fine dining. We got one for our local 24 hour diner, one for Cavaillon (yay! can't wait to go again!!), and 5 or 6 other (new to us) restaurants. They have these big "sales" all the time (I have since found out) but it's still a great deal.
So, back to 25 Forty Bistro, found it on the website, checked it out on Yelp and UrbanSpoon...and was very pleased with what we discovered! It's located in Old Town San Diego, on a quiet street back from the main tourist area. It's also right around the corner from the awesome Harney Sushi, which is owned by a previous neighbor of ours! Finding it was easy, parking not TOO bad, but a little difficult, which is to be expected in that area.
It was a chilly night and Oscar night, so we were only 1 of 2 parties the whole time we were there. Fine with us! The decor is all black and white, kind of "hip" modern casual... with one half of a large wall a chalkboard map with their featured wines highlighted near their country of origin. I thought that was cool. The kitchen was partially visible, allowing diners to see the chefs, and chefs to keep an eye on the pace of the meal. Chef Mark Pelliccia has worked for years in Italy and his fresh ingredients come together to make great food.
To start, I ordered a glass of sparkling Montecchia Moscato, more of a dessert wine but my experience at Nine Ten had taught me that sweet wines go well with all sorts of dishes. I REALLY liked it and am hoping the have it at BevMo. While we were checking out the menu an amuse bouche of tuna (salad) on still warm toast arrived. It was light and tasty.
We ordered the cheese plate as a starter. It was composed of 4 cheeses, apple wedges, walnuts, celery, and homemade raspberry (if I remember correctly) preserves. Excellent combinations!! We are totally loving this whole cheese thing! We have even started doing cheese plates at home a couple of times a week.
As an appetizer we ordered their pork belly special which came with potato salad. The pork was covered in a sweet/spicy coffee (if i remember correctly!) based BBQ sauce. It was DEEEE-LISH! My boyfriend claims he would eat pork belly every night if we could. The creamy, mild house made potato salad was a perfect compliment to the flavor smackdown of the pork. The serving size could have easily been an entree. Luckily we were sharing everything!
For our main courses I had the pork chop (pork chops-fuji apples-sauteed spinach) and my boyfriend the duck pasta (homemade fettuccine-braised duck). The pork chops were served with the cooked apples and spinach in an excellent sweet sauce. Again, it was a great sized portion. We though the pasta would be like a bed of noodles with pieces of duck on top and some kind of sauce. But it was more like a nest of cut up noodles and duck, all sauced and mixed together. (not easy to describe but see pic!) It was a very different flavor (smoky, rich, gravy-ish) from both of the pork dishes so we weren't so sure at first, but it grew on us. In fact we ate the rest of it (leftovers) the next day and it was even better than we remembered.
On to dessert!! I read online that the pastries are great since they are a "bake house" but we decided to go with the suggestion of the waitress, and ordered vanilla custard crepe. Wow. She served it to us hot out of a pan with the custard all warm and melted and it was just amazing. I love sweets, but my boyfriend agreed that it was just as amazing as I was thinking. :-) I also ordered a hot chocolate.... and that is exactly what I got. A large cup of melted chocolate with fresh whipped cream on top. Holy cow! Even I had a little trouble finishing it at the end, it was that rich. Like drinking out of a chocolate fondue pot. But I won't complain and will probably order it again next time we go!
Overall - GREAT food, EXCELLENT service!! and the price was reasonable, even without a certificate. We shall return!! Hopefully when it is warmer and we can take advantage of their super cute porch seating with fire pits.