My first experience with Chef Zach Geerson is more than a year ago at a restaurant he is briefly at. I hear he is at Hotel Fullerton, but it takes me quite some time before I make it out that way, purely because I’ve been traveling a lot of late.
After a few transformations, including Griswolds, which I see several friends visit and rave about, the restaurant is currently in its latest phase as Citizen Kitchen. Intended as the casual dining spot at Hotel Fullerton, there is nothing fleeting about its creative menu selections and well executed dishes.
The first thing which catches my eye is Chilled Tomato Bisque ($7). A bowl of cucumber cream mixture is brought to the table, and the vibrantly hued heirloom tomato soup is poured into the green to create a stunning presentation. It is welcoming and a respite from the heat wave we are having. The tartness is refreshing, and the natural umami from the tomatoes addicting. I want more of this heavenly potage.
Another impressive dish is Watermelon Poke ($11) a stack of sushi-style forbidden rice topped with marinated watermelon. Upon first bite, I am at first confused, then fascinated by how my palate is deceived by what I’m eating, believing it is fish and not watermelon. I am honestly blown away by it, and take little bites over and over again in awe of its texture and flavors. The miso-soy emulsion adds another level of savory to the mix. Incredible!
Grilled Spanish Octopus ($9) with “mole negro,” radish, coriander, corn, and heirloom tomato is impeccable. The octopus offers an excellent chew but never rubbery, while the mole sauce is piquant and delicious. A must order!
I am always about fowl, and Spiced Duck Breast ($13) is a surprise both in price and in execution. I am delighted the duck is served at a medium rare temperature with mushrooms, a peach-lentil “tagine” which I’m at first skeptical about. However, the peach is not at a super ripe level which allows its acidity to shine through, adding brightness to the duck.
Perhaps the only item on the menu I find fault with is Olive Oil Poached Artic Char ($14). While the fish is cooked perfectly – melt-in-my-mouth tender — it is a tad under-seasoned and the accoutrements discombobulated. Sautéed arugula and fingerling potatoes work in harmony, however, roasted grapes and spiced tomato marmalade feel like after thoughts. Take away these two and the dish is rather respectable.
My meal at Citizen Kitchen is memorable and I am excited to try more from Chef Zach. I hear he has a few more surprises up his sleeve coming soon.
1500 S Raymond Ave
Fullerton, CA 92831