Hillcrest’s ‘The Red Door, ” situated in a cottage house on a discreet corner in one of San Diego’s more forward-thinking neighborhoods, has the appeal of a haute cuisine experience without the frilly pretension of some of its peers (and yes, there is in fact a red door). Sipping an elder flower martini, my sister insisted on the mussels, and so our meal began. They arrived covered with thin fries, which we were patient enough to eat before moving on to the mussels underneath, thus keeping them from collapsing into the shells like a delicious fry landslide. The mussels were as good as she said they were; covered in a subtly intense sauce, they had just the right consistency, and none of the overwhelming, just brought in from the ocean notes that came with the mussels at downtown’s Blue Point restaurant. We went through them quickly, and once the bowl was nothing but a pool of the orange sauce and mussel drippings, I attended to it, thinking it would make a perfect soup in and of itself if it could be done. I like to think that eventually, they’ll come to this concept themselves.
Let me begin the description of my main course by stating that I’ve come to the realization that I’m not a scallop person. I find them bland in taste and texture, and have yet to have come upon a use of scallops that gets me on their side. These were served with a turnip puree and sautéed artichokes that ended up being more interesting than the scallops themselves. Afterward, after mentioning a walk to a coffee shop, we decided to order from there and consider it our dessert for the evening, since at that point, we couldn’t possibly have looked upon a shared cake or creme brulee without a hint of bodily disgust. We’ll do dessert next time.