Many restaurants proclaim themselves “homey,” but few fit the bill quite like Del Mar’s Beeside Balcony. From its corner perch at 12th Street and Camino Del Mar, the almost entirely outdoor eatery feels like a social hive abuzz with lively conversation in a casual environment that’s perfect for what chef-owner Christophe Cevasco calls “flip-flop fine dining.” An endearing waitstaff that treats diners like family adds to the ambience, but there’s even more driving Beeside’s domesticity: honey hailing from an apiary in the backyard of Cevasco’s North County home.
That earthily sweet, all-natural delicacy is laced throughout the menu. It can be sampled in concert with saucisson sec (white wine-infused cured pork sausage), fromage, veggies, and dips on a shareable “Bee’s Board,” blended into chèvre in a roasted beet salad, or mixed into a standout from Beeside’s summer cocktail list. Rendered purple from the addition of butterfly pea flower-infused gin, the honey-laced “Lavender’s Bee’s Knees” comes across as an easy-drinking, botanical lemonade that’s both pretty and perfectly suited for patio dining.
Homespun honey is but one way in which Cevasco has thrown himself into his passion project, the arrival of which returned the French-born chef to his first home, the kitchen, after two decades as a front-of-house ambassador, the last eight of which were spent at Eddie V’s in La Jolla. All the components of his Mediterranean-inspired menu, which blends elements of French, Italian, Spanish, and Greek cuisines, are made from scratch, incorporating ingredients from operations such as Specialty Produce as well as accoutrements from local producers including nearby Prager Brothers Artisan Breads.
Starters include oysters with feta in a Pernod-accented garlic cream, garlic-buttered escargot, and lamb meatballs with a San Marzano tomato sauce, but two apps rise to the head of the class. Plump Prince Edward Island mussels come bathed in a wine broth given extra richness and viscosity care of heavy cream. In lieu of a spoon (or a siphon), use discarded bivalve shells to ladle up the last of that delectable liquid. And a deep-golden, tennis ball-sized crab cake is as close to 100 percent meat as one’s bound to find. The shellfish’s inherent sweetness is balanced nicely by the tartness of a lemon remoulade.
The menu’s “Plates” section features a pair of pastas and a variety of meaty entrees, including hearty-yet-tender sous-vide “fried” chicken, a one-pound pork chop in a peach-balsamic glaze, and filet mignon served au poivre-style. But Cevasco is particularly proud of his best-selling Spanish-inspired octopus, which is aggressively grilled and served with bacon, potato fondant, and a lemon and truffle-dressed arugula salad. Even so, the star dish on a recent dinner visit was a plate of golden-brown scallops with chorizo and cauliflower, all of which were punched up and made patio-friendly by an intensely tropical mango sauce.
Fittingly, Beeside’s signature dessert incorporates Cevasco’s honey (which is available for purchase to-go). Unique in every way, it’s a two-tier vanilla bean ice cream cake topped and divided by layers of crumbled baklava, adding crunch and a wallop of cinnamon. Tasty and large enough to split, it’s reminiscent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.
With sunshine and brilliant views of the sea and Del Mar’s main drag, and a varied bevy of adult beverages (including a worldly wine list that has something to appeal to just about any palate), Beeside is also a popular spot for brunch, which takes place from 10am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. But, with its unpretentious take on upscale dining, along with its welcoming staff and setting, any visit is bound to leave one feeling as though they’ve found a second home. And speaking of second homes, the current buzz is that Cevasco is planning a return to his longtime stomping grounds with the installation of another Beeside Balcony in La Jolla that should open later this year. 858.481.9889, beesidebalcony.com
Culinary Innovation 3
Food Quality 4
Wine List 4
Craft Beer List 3
Craft Cocktail Program 4