Feb 13 2013

Sublime spots for sardines

Be the envy of every dolphin, get yourself a beautiful plate of sardines.

Typically used for bait, these little treats take to Mediterranean flavors so well. And if you’re not up for rowing out to buy direct from a bait barge in the bay (umm, that’s illegal), you can paddle over to a few San Diego restaurants making headway on the sardine trend:

What’s the big appeal of sardines? “They taste like fish,” said Trey Foshee, who has served the tiny, oily fish a trillion ways at George’s at the Cove/George’s California Modern. “A lot of fish that’s found in restaurants—the halibuts, the soles, a lot of white fish—they’re geared for people who think eating fish is healthy but they don’t like the taste of fish.” His La Jolla kitchen is currently grilling sardines, plating the filets atop fennel cream, marinated mussels, Japanese squid and wild fennel, and presenting the dish underneath a glass filled with cedar smoke. 1250 Prospect St. La Jolla. (858) 454-4244 orgeorgesatthecove.com.

One of the top “boat-to-throat” sustainable-seafood advocates in town is Sea Rocket Bistro, a two-roomed, low-key neighborhood spot. The kitchen leaders have changed since it opened in 2008—Tommy Fraioli is the captain now, and he recently won the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s Chef of the Fest title. But the San Diego-caught sardines stay on the menu: Find them with a bit of heat-coloring and smoke from their time on the grill. They’re served with their head-on, and festooned with a cucumber and tomato salad with vinegar, lemon, paprika and pickled shallots. 3382 30th St. North Park. (619) 255-7049 or searocketbistro.com.

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