The Poseidon Restaurant
There are plenty of features that keep Del Mar’s Greek deity namesake seafood spot, The Poseidon Restaurant, packed to the gills on a regular basis. Chief among them is a view of the Pacific and those who worship it in tandem with the Southern California sunshine, which comes courtesy of a shaded, sand-sidled patio. Such grand sightseeing opportunities at The Poseidon are complemented by executive chef Mourad Jamal’s casually refined sea fare that is perfectly suited for his dining room and those who flock to it.
Jamal revels in equipping aquatic proteins with culturally focused setups. One of his most successful forays into this culinary method is swordfish coated in a bold, spicy Jamaican-style jerk rub topped with papaya-mango relish and a creamy, earthy cilantro-avocado sauce. Sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna gets a wasabi-sesame crust and Asian accoutrements — lotus chips, bok choy slaw, and sweet, salty teriyaki-miso sauce, while the catch of the day finds its way into lemon-caper butter-dressed linguini or amid a bounty of shellfish in a steaming bowl of cioppino.
Part of the uniqueness of Jamal’s menu is that he hasn’t abandoned classic gourmet condiments as so many others have. There are three buerre blancs in the main dish section — lemon, pomegranate, and lemongrass. Béarnaise sauce and compound butters can be found there, too. And while these caloric add-ons feel a bit out of place sharing page space with citrus-cured ceviche, wonton taco shells stuffed with ruby red cubes of ahi poke, and oysters on the half shell, so does creamy clam chowder, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty as all get out.
A quartet of salads awaits those looking for something as fresh as the salty breeze blowing off the ocean, along with many forms of fried and steamed shellfish, adding to the bill of fare’s throwback feel. Steaks, short ribs, chicken, and a bone-in pork chop are also available, but Jamal’s seafood mains are where it’s at. Scallops with chanterelle mushrooms and a sorel-based chimichurri nori-crusted Chilean sea bass (Marine Stewardship Council-certified, so no need for an ethical uproar) with a richly truffled, silky celery root puree are one-of-a-kind.
Even if one takes into consideration how busy the restaurant is, its staff did clock in a tad on the slow side the night of our visit. Fortunately, the view makes waiting a pleasurable experience. Is there anything the SoCal sunshine can’t remedy? (858.755.9345, www.poseidonrestaurant.com) Brandon Hernández
Photography by Vincent Knakal