Darren and I were recently invited to check out Acqua California Bistro in the Mission Bay Hilton. We didn’t know quite what to expect, other than we heard Chef Schäfer has European roots and it is reflected in his cuisine.
The dining area inside was quite nice, but we were offered perfect seating al fresco overlooking Mission Bay. The property is beautiful and the resort guests looked thoroughly satisfied with their surroundings.
Although it cooled down significantly once the sun had set, the heat lamps and fire pits kept us nice and toasty throughout dinner service. They must have had a half dozen fire pits at least!
Their menu is simple, but elegant. They also offer a prix-fixe menu too for those who want a comprehensive dining experience.
We started with some delicious asiago rustic fig honey bread, accompanied by frommage blanc and European butter.
Next we were each brought a “Big Drinker” oyster from Puget sound Washington (he absorbs 25 gallons of water per day!). Also, a nice jumbo shrimp on Himalayan salt block. Darren and I aren’t the biggest fans of oysters in a half shell, but it certainly offered full flavors of the ocean which most oyster connoisseurs will appreciate. It was served with a vibrant Champagne vinaigrette.
The scallops appetizer was my favorite dish of the evening. It came with a rich sauce infused with truffle essence and some earthy mushrooms. The sear on the scallop was perfect.
We also ordered the Yellowfin tuna tartar which was very good. I did enjoy the layer of avocado on top and the presentation was certainly interesting.
For my entree, I ordered the Simply Roasted Chicken Breast Saltimbocca (that’s a mouthful!). It comes with local duck prosciutto, gruyere cheese, baby arugula, and polenta. This was a solid dish, but I would have preferred the breast to be bit more moist. Nevertheless, the sauce helped and the arugula was a good addition. Presentation wise I think it could be cleaned up a bit more.
Darren opt’d for the Hawaiian Swordfish with lemon basmati risotto, basil, and an olive and roasted pepper tapenade. We were most excited about this one from the menu description. Although it was good, it wasn’t the best dish of the night. The swordfish was a bit to thin to retain the moisture needed to keep the steak completely moist throughout. I would have preferred a larger steak instead of the two individual pieces. The sauce provided a rich layer of flavors on the side.
So, we were excited to hear that Chef was from the Austria and eagerly awaiting dessert. We had a very memorable trip to Vienna several years ago and found countless dessert bars scattered throughout the city. They take their desserts seriously! Anyhow, I was in the mood for some chocolate, so I opt’d for the Chocolate Flourless Cake. It arrived with a couple random meringue discs and the cake was inside of a mug. Unfortunately the cake was not as rich as I was anticipating and it ended up being somewhat dry as well.
Darren changed things up a bit by getting the Creme Brulee Trio. The most memorable one was the chocolate one in the center, which I then mixed with the chocolate cake and wahhlaa! It tasted pretty good together.
Anyhow, I’d definitely recommend the scallops. I’d probably have that for my main entree next time. Dessert-wise, we’ll have to go back and try something new. Service was great here and the team very attentive to our needs. Check them out and let us know what you think!
Acqua California Bistro
1775 E Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, CA 92109