If you’re looking for a place to check out Restaurant Week, consider the newly renovated Vessel restaurant located within Kona Kai Resort. I visited once before (as a dining guest for another food writer) and didn’t take photos but made a point to return at the later date to see if the food was just as good. And it was.
The Restaurant Week deal at Vessel is $30 for three courses. A great deal considering the sheer amount of food served.
First course dishes included wild mushroom flatbread, mussel, calamari frito and a heirloom apple salad. We opted for the flatbread and calamari.
Both are great starters and according to our server, the mushroom flatbread pizza is one of the more popular items. (It’s only $5 during their happy hour!) The mix of woodsy mushrooms and sprinkle of fontina and mozzarella cheese are highlighted by truffle oil. But it wasn’t too overpowering.
And while I tend to have problems with restaurants overcooking calamari, the version done was perfectly cooked. Not shown are the half black Napa Valley grapes tossed with the fried squid that added some welcome sweetness to the dish. It almost didn’t need the sweet chili dipping sauce served alongside it.
If it wasn’t for the two other courses afterward, I would have happily just stuck with these items but I came in specifically for the cider-brined pork chop and wild sea bass — two dishes I had tried before.
Weighing in at almost one pound, the chop is brined for 24 hours, seared and baked until cooked. But it’s the housemade spaetzle that steals the dish with pork lardons tossed throughout (echoing the porkiness of the huge hucnk of meat) and sour cherries scattered throughout. It’s Vessel’s number one dish that executive chef Roy Hendrickson brought with him from Orange County.
Equally good — and Paul argues is better than the pork chop — was the sea bass. Perfectly cooked, the moist fish is dusted with porchini and served with avocado mousse and a toss of marinated wild mushrooms.
Short rib and a vegetarian butternut squash ravioli are the other two entree choices.
We were far too stuffed for dessert but we soldiered on and tried each of the two dessert choices: key lime pie (not pictured) and a chocolate ganache (above). Does this even need explaining?
The restaurant also is serving up lunch for $15 per person. It’s not as impressive with fish and chips, burgers and sandwiches (but does offer the same dessert options for $5 more) so I recommend holding out for dinner.
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Vessel. Our meal and drinks were complimentary and I was not further compensated for this post. All opinions here are my own, duh.
Vessel at Kona Kai Resort
1551 Shelter Island Dr.
San Diego CA 92106