Last month, I am invited to a dinner with many of San Diego’s top chefs. One of them is Food Network star and champion, Chef Maeve Rochford, and owner of Sugar and Scribe in La Jolla.
Maeve is not at the restaurant the morning of our visit, but the eatery is buzzing and it is difficult to find parking. We are greeted by a hostess with a delightful Irish accent who seats us at what I consider to be the best seat in the house – the best seat is always the one where you are afforded a view of the entire restaurant.
Maeve is a baked goods maven. The minute you walk into the restaurant, you’re greeted by a bakery area on either side with an array of enticing offerings. I remember Maeve telling me a little about her menu, which consists of many recipes which have been handed down from her Irish grandmother. Therefore, I am mindful when selecting for our meal and am intrigued by the handful of hearty dishes that’ll put some meat on your bones.
Beef Consommé with Potato Dumplings ($7.50) jumps out immediately. Being Chinese, I love brothy soups and consommé is what I love when I want something comforting. The consommé is rich in flavor, and I find out from Maeve later that the secret is using eggshells in its preparation. The potato dumplings are outstanding and there aren’t enough in the broth. I want about double of what is in the bowl, and then some.
I see scrapple on the menu, and of course, I have to have it. Eggs “N” Oats ($12.95) comprises two large slices of house made scrapple, which is pulled pork and oats. The thick Irish brown bread, made in house, is perfect to drag through the oozing yolks from the eggs. The scrapple has wonderful flavors, but could have benefited from a slightly crispier exterior, but still, a stellar winner all around. Try the spiced jam! It is lovely on the scrapple.
There is Erie Hash ($12.95) on the menu, but we end up doing a side ($4.95) instead, as our server suggests. The house-made hash comprises Irish black pudding sausage, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and onions with a flavorful finish. Ask for some HP Sauce to eat with the hash — it’s the Irish way to do it apparently!
For a hearty option, definitely choose Rochford Shepard’s Pie ($12.95), a cast iron skillet layered with a rich beef base, root vegetables and topped with creamy mashed potatoes and Irish port cheddar cheese. Our server, who incidentally is also Irish with a lilt in her voice, tells us that this is the way she’s always known shephard’s pie to be in Ireland – topped with cheese. The curried fruit, is again, a traditional side dish and reminds me of fruit cocktail I have eaten as a kid in Malaysia. My son finds this strangely delicious (his words) and keeps eating it.
Our favorite item of the meal has to be Biscuits and Gravy ($10.89). The fresh baked buttermilk biscuits possess the buttery saltiness I love. The chicken sausage is absolutely delicious, and I wish there is more. There isn’t enough chicken gravy on the plate for us as it is so gooey delicious. In fact, we eat all of it with half the portion on the plate and ask for more. Definitely ask for more gravy, it is heavenly!!
I wish we are able to eat more, but if you have a sweet tooth, leave some room for the desserts which Maeve is known for! After all, she IS the champion of Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship.
Sugar and Scribe
7660 Fay Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037