The Barracuda Grill is a new restaurant located on the Coast Highway in the ever-improving old Encinitas area. The restaurant shares street frontage next door to the new and recently opened Whole Foods Market and the newly built Pacific Station Townhomes and Lofts residences.
I made reservations for four on Open Table to celebrate my wife's birthday yesterday. Parking is available in the underground garage accessible on F Street below Pacific Station.
The restaurant decor is smart, contemporary, chic and comfortable. The walls of windows allow you to experience all of the activity going on outside while visually creating space, which is also very nice since the restaurant does not occupy a lot of square footage.
We each ordered a salad or starter. There was a Seared Ahi Tuna, Caesar Salad, Caprese Tower, and a Beet Salad. The Caesar Salad was served up rustic style with the Romaine leaves left whole, a whole baked seasoned crouton, and Parmigiano slivers. I could smell the anchovy in the dressing. It looked and smelled great. The Beet Salad was served with arugula with the large beet thinly sliced and arranged on plate with the greens mounded on top also with Parmigiano slivers. I had the Caprese Tower which was fresh tomato and fresh mozzarella stacked alternately and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The ahi was perfectly seared sitting atop a vegetable carpaccio, as described in the menu, but it was mostly nicely sliced zucchini.
Our dinner selections were the Mahi Mahi with vegetable melange in yellow pepper saffron sauce, Angel Hair Pasta with grilled chicken, red onion, sun-dried tomato, and snow peas, Agnolotti which is a wild mushroom and baby spinach ravioli in a herb chardonnay broth, and a grilled salmon in tagine sauce described as "saffron lemon preserve". We also ordered wine including a chardonnay, a cuvee blend, and a Bordeaux all by the glass. The wine list is satisfactory but could definitely stand to have more selection.
The presentation of the all dishes were nicely done. It is evident that they put considerable thought into their plating appearance for each dish. The portion sizes were appropriate with some dishes and smallish for others. With regard to taste, my tomato slices were not ripened enough, I felt, to compliment the mozzarella.
I also had the salmon which was over salted on the vegetables. I could identify the salt crystals on my tongue with first few bites. I sent it back. The server's response upon removing the plate was, "Why this has never happened to me before!" This could have been taken way out of context so I didn't touch it. But, at this price point, the wait staff should wait on my table and not offer any of their commentary or opinion unless I solicit one. By the way, the herb chardonnay broth was also salty. My replacement salmon came back to the table rather quickly, nicely presented again. But in their haste to get my meal back out to me, which I appreciate, the salmon was broiled to quickly, leaving it a little on the raw side in the middle, which I also sent back. While I appreciate the earnestness, I ordered broiled salmon and not a seared, raw in the middle, sushi type finish. Our waitress upon taking the second plate back remarked that it appeared cooked to her.
There are many elements that Barracuda Grill needs to work out before they can be considered a restaurant worthy of the impression that they are attempting to make. I hope that they address those issues soon.
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