Vincent’s makes a good first impression

Drove down to San Diego and was lucky enough to catch the tail end of Restaurant Week last week. We visited Vincent’s in Escondido and my friends and I were pleasantly pleased to find a warm, cozy, bustling dining room.

The regular menu was also available but we were here for the $30 prix fixe Restaurant Week menu consisting of three choices for appetizer, entree and dessert. To make it easy, we just went ahead and ordered everything so we could get a feel of what the restaurant had to offer.

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I was happy to see that the items are all available on the regular menu — really hate restaurants which make up an entirely different menu for restaurant week. This way, if you wanted to return, you’d be able to enjoy the dishes again.

Smoked Salmon and Watercress Salad was a nice refreshing start, not overly dressed with the lemon-caper vinaigrette and served with beautiful smoked salmon and thinly sliced red onions. Chopped hard boiled eggs accompanied and the pumpernickel croutons were very nice.

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One of my dining companions is always making faces whenever I ask him to try lentil soup. The French Lentil Soup here was seriously flavorful and guess what? My friend loved it! Topped with a parmesan garlic crouton, this is a soup I would like a big bowl of. Absolutely DELICIOUS!

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What really surprised me was the Braised Pork Belly.   Everyone knows it takes a seriously outstanding pork belly dish for me to like it. I’m just not very fond of this cut because if not executed perfectly, the lean part of the meat is tough and the fat disgustingly fatty if not rendered properly. After one mouthful, I was sold! Unctuous and quite lovely. I couldn’t stop eating the puree of butternut squash it was served over. The sweetness was so well paired with the green peppercorn glaze drizzled over.

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Entrees were next and Pecan-Crusted Rainbow Trout with Parsley Brown Butter Sauce was not my favorite. Idaho farm raised rainbow trout seasoned with pecans and pan sauteed did not possess a crispy crust as I had imagined. The pecan topping was a tad mushy, however, the fish was moist and flaky. The potato gratin was delicious, as was the medley of seasonal vegetables.

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I’m not a huge pork fan so I was skeptical about Pork Chop Charcuterie. A pan roasted Kurabuta pork chop was a little underseasoned and slightly overcooked. However, the braised cabbage and sauteed apples were great accompaniments eaten together with the pork. The charcuterie sauce prepared with veal stock, herbs, Dijon and diced cornichons was really awesome and I wanted more of it for the bland pork.

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Everyone agreed, Duck Confit with Wild Mushroom Cognac Sauce was the definitely winner. Maple Leaf duck legs are simmered with garlic and herbs, fork tender and so rich on the palate. The house made wide noodles were the perfect accoutrement for this dish soaked in the wonderful wild mushroom cognac sauce. I would totally come back for this! So good!

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By the time we got to dessert, they had run out of two of the offerings, so they presented us with alternatives. Apple Tart served with vanilla ice cream was one of those. I’m not a fan of apples, but this worked really well for me. The pastry was crispy while the apples were soft enough but still retained some bite to it. Really great!

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Creme Brulee was disappointing. The creme part was too dense and overly sweet. We didn’t enjoy this much.

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However, we saved the best for last. Hazelnut Paris-Brest pate-a-chou filled with hazelnut praline cream was absolutely stunning, just the perfect mouthful bite after bite. I’m not a dessert fan and I was in love with this. A little puff pastry, a cream puff if you will, is stuffed with the hazelnut praline cream — so soft and tantalizing!

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I would never have found Vincent’s had it not been my friend who heard about it on the radio one morning. I’m so glad we took a chance on visiting. This is one of those restaurants which truly utilized restaurant week to its fullest to showcase their menu items and it worked well to their advantage. Bravo!

Vincent’s
113 W Grand Avenue
Escondido, CA 92025
Tel: 760-745-3835

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