Kensington Grill: still great after all these yearsDining Thursday, October 25th, 2012
It is always such a pleasure for me when I can celebrate a restaurant that has been around for years. So often we focus on the new hot trendy ones, we sometimes forget the great classics we have in our own backyard. Recently, I had the good fortune to be reintroduced to one – and they still got it.
Kensington Grill opened up on the dining scene back in 1995. An astonishing 17-years later, they are still serving up great quality fare that is reasonable and, oh so tasty. Housed in the posh neighborhood of Kensington at 4055 Adams Ave., the Grill continues, along with their sister restaurant Cucina Urbana, to be a powerhouse in San Diego.
Serving up New American cuisine, this has to be one of my favorite spots for an upscale, yet casual, dining experience. Whether you are at one of the many tables or at the fabulous bar, nowhere will disappoint. Even after all these years, the menu never gets stale. Recently, they introduced a larger selection of dishes that can be served family-style or traditionally coursed. I love this aspect as I often dine with a lot of people and this gives the option to taste many different items.
One of the big trends that I don’t see going away are “Boards” (3 for $14, 4 for $18, 5 for $21). Whether they are filled with meats, cheeses, or a variety of marinated items, most restaurants are serving them. At Kensington Grill, try the Bruschetta Board. There are several selections to choose from, such as Feta, artichoke, tomato and cucumber; Chicken liver pate or crabapple, brie, and caramelized onion jam.
All the salads have the option to be served family-style. Go for the BLT Salad ($9.50) for the table. Fresh crispy iceberg lettuce is dressed with rich bacon vinaigrette and with large chunks of blue cheese it all comes together with plump heirloom tomatoes and garlic croutons. This is a great rendition of a classic salad.
They have an interesting section called Bowls. Here you can choose from pastas and seafood. The Carlsbad Mussels ($13) are cooked with the local brew Ballast Point Yellowtail, a spicy sausage, tomatoes and fennel. The ale and fennel put off a beautiful fragrance and the briny mussels just melt.
Their large plates are just that. With several entrées to choose from, you could never go wrong with any you pick. On a recent visit, I dined on the Loch Duart Salmon Bouillabaisse ($23). Spot prawns, baby octopus, clams, fennel and fingerling potatoes all come together to create an explosive amount of flavor. I could have eaten just the flavorful broth, it was that good.
For the hearty eater, there is plenty. The Pork Tenderloin ($23) was cooked to perfection as was the creamy polenta. I love polenta, and love it even more when it is done right. Here they hit the mark with the rapini and cippolini onion accompaniments. The fig argrodolce puts this dish over the top.
The smaller plates didn’t disappoint either and I was pleased that I was able to taste several since they were served family-style.
The wine list is short, and just as sweet. I applaud restaurants that are smart enough to have a good quality wine list, without having to have 500 bottles on the list. Join them on Wednesday’s as all their bottles $29-$59 are 50 percent off.
Kensington Grill is just such a great example of how a restaurant can stay fresh and new. After 17-years, so many can get stale, old and complacent. It is nice to know that the mold can be broken, and Kensington Grill is a wonderful example of that.
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