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Sea & Smoke is the latest restaurant by one of San Diego’s top chefs, Matt Gordon. He’s also responsible for my favorite restaurant, Urban Solace, and Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, an Encinitas hot spot that I like to call “Suburban Solace.” All three well-designed restaurants specialize in some seriously tasty New American cuisine plus a craveable selection of craft cocktails. Aside from the drinks, what I love most about these restaurants is that their menus change with the seasons, allowing for a new, exciting experience each time I visit.
Jorge and I had brunch at Sea & Smoke this past Sunday, and I’ll have to say that, once again, Matt Gordon does not disappoint. The lovely libation pictured above is a new cocktail at Sea & Smoke called The Slutty Negroni. Made with rye, Cocchi Americano Rosa (an Italian aperitif wine), and dry vermouth, this red-hued beauty is a perfect way to down an ounce or two of whisky. The Cocchi Americano Rosa adds intrigue while mellowing out the burn of the rye. Dry vermouth is added for balance. Continue reading to get a recipe for Sea & Smoke’s Slutty Negroni plus highlights from our brunch.
Three words: Cinnamon Roll Sandwich. It’s really everything you are imaging right now, and more. The sandwich starts with one of Sea & Smoke’s housemade cinnamon rolls. Unlike the monstrosities you find at Cinnabon, this cinnamon roll had just the right amount of sweetness and glaze. To make the sandwich, a cinnamon roll is sliced in half, then filled with ham, bacon, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg. Maple syrup is served on the side to add some extra sweetness. The texture of the roll is crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside; it’s the perfect tool to help sop up any egg yolk or maple syrup running around the plate. The one thing that really surprised me about this sandwich was the burnt (in a good way) sugar taste present on the bottom slice of the roll. Perhaps they heated the roll up in a skillet before serving, causing the sugars on the bottom to caramelize? Overall, this sandwich is sweet, savory perfection.
By the way, if you are not a fan of sweet-savory, and you’d rather go for something sweet-sweet, try out Sea & Smoke’s cinnamon roll bar. Basically, they give you a plain cinnamon roll, and then you get to add your own toppings. Choices include: whipped cream, cream cheese frosting, chocolate sauce, caramels, nuts, bacon and more!
Next, we had one of Sea & Smoke’s Cast Iron Skillet Benedicts. This one was made with Niman Ranch Pork Belly, steamed spinach, poached eggs, and a mustard hollandaise, all sitting atop a golden disc of tender cornbread. I really liked this dish. The flavor of the pork belly reminded me of my favorite duck confit dish at Urban Solace.
After two amazing brunch plates, Jorge and I switched into lunch mode with this Vanilla Scented Beet Salad. Let me tell you. This salad is SO tasty. Tender, sweet beets are tossed in a vanilla-citrus vinaigrette, then arranged on a plate with ruby red grapefruit, pistachio pesto, silky goat cheese, olive oil and arugula. I mean, have you ever seen such a beautiful salad?
We finished our meal with two seafood “small” plates: Oysters Del Mar and Pacific Mussels. Fresh and briny, the oysters were topped with a spinach mornay, parsley breadcrumbs and bacon. With each oyster, the flavor of the ocean cut through the richness of the cheese sauce. Beautiful in both balance and appearance. The Pacific Mussels were made with ginger and green curry. When this plate came out, my stomach capacity was about 95% full, but I still couldn’t stop these mussels. By the way, “small” is in quotes above, because the portions were both sizable and satisfying.
A big thanks to the Sea & Smoke team for hosting this brunch for Jorge and me. It was seriously an A+ experience (food and service). Now, on to the recipe for The Slutty Negroni.
The Slutty Negroni
- 1 oz. rye
- 1 oz. Cocchi Americano Rosa
- 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
- Lemon zest, for garnish
- Place rye, Cocchi Americano Rosa, and dry vermouth in a glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled wine or martini glass. Garnish with a strip of lemon zest.