The dining experience at Twenty/20 was so complete and thoroughly enjoyable, I don’t even know where to start. But since our first impression was the spectacular panoramic ocean view from the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa, let’s go there first.
It really is a beautiful Mediterranean-style restaurant, with a huge indoor-outdoor space offering an extensive patio complete with fireplace, which is one of the most sought-after tables for cocktails, happy hour and a sunset dinner.
General Manager and Executive Chef Reed Anderson greeted us and presented a table that offered great indoor and outdoor views. Chef Reed is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and has spent time in the kitchens at Lulu and Fleur de Lys in San Francisco. He also ventured to Sienna, Italy, where he spent a year cooking in three well-respected restaurants.
Chef Reed is a member of the Slow Food movement, an organization dedicated to protecting the heritage of food, tradition and culture by opposing food processes that are harmful to humans, animals or the environment. He is also a crowd pleaser as he cooks at the Twenty/20 Thursday Tapas nights on the restaurant’s patio. Chef Reed is backed by a strong supporting cast including Chef Steven Patrick who has an impressive resume himself. The kitchen sources sustainable and organic locally grown produce and artisan producers are interviewed continually to provide the hotel with naturally raised meats and fish, tomatoes and fresh greens, herbs, cheeses and other locally grown food items. The hotel’s kitchen team practices sustainable cooking and the resort is kept in the “green zone” with naturally raised beef and lamb, using only nonthreatened fish and seafood from countries with sustainable water and fishing practices. French and California influences create a Coastal California menu driven by the freshest of the season with the menu changing seasonally
We also had one of the best servers I’ve encountered in North County in Ron Whittaker. He was a true professional with an in-depth knowledge of everything on the menu and a knack for pairing exactly the right wine with the dish at hand. Ron spent time at George’s at the Cove in La Jolla and that experience was evident in his polished skills.
I really could go on and on about the atmosphere, staff and service, but the food was equally impressive. We started with one of their seasonal soups, the spring asparagus bisque was served with a pancetta wrapped nugget of asparagus and crème fraiche in the middle of an empty bowl then the soup poured over it by the server tableside. I love that touch and the soup was spot on.
Next up were some First Bites as they call them and we went with the honey-hoisin pork ribs, of which I could have eaten about 12. Alas, there were only two and we split them which was just a tease. The spicy tempura rock shrimp was next and while we had never seen rock shrimp as large as these, maybe they are growing them bigger these days. Regardless, the spicy tempura was a nice contrast to the shrimp. I should mention that our server Ron paired a perfect Four Graces Pinot Blanc from Dundee Hills region of Oregon. And he paired the wine perfectly with every dish.
We were dying to try the house-made potato gnocchi but did not want to commit to it as an entrée. The chef obliged and split a portion between us and it was really, really good with wild mushrooms, green asparagus, Valdivia Farms tomatoes and goat cheese. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, it took gnocchi to another level. We went for d surf and turf with a Brandt Farms filet mignon and a butter poached Maine lobster and the roasted Berkshire pork loin that came with smoked pork rolls. Both entrées were perfect and the highlight of the evening was still to come.
The parfait sampler is the only dessert option but there are six different parfaits presented in a desert tree stand that displays them beautifully. Pick the parfait you want, take it off the stand, and that’s your desert.
Twenty/20 is a North County gem that local residents need to experience. Besides what I mentioned, they have and extensive wine list, a full list of hearth-baked pizzas, great looking salads, and a busy bar scene. It’s not an inexpensive night out, but when you are looking to go big and soak in some of the best views in San Diego, it’s definitely worth it.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Twenty/20 is located at 5480 Grand Pacific Drive in Carlsbad. Visit www.twenty20grill.com or call (760) 827-2500 for reservations.
Filed Under: Lick the Plate