Knowing that Glenn would be at work until the wee hours of the morning, I planned an evening with Blair. We did not have any set plans, anything was up for grabs. A handful of things were mentioned including walking up the La Mesa stairs (my suggestion which she quickly shot down) and watching the Grunion run, but once we found out Jean would be joining us, we knew our options would need to be narrowed down to food. For those who need a reminder, Jean is Blair's mother and my dining soul-mate. Years before I had ever met her, Blair told me I needed to hang out with her Mom. I obviously thought this was kind of strange... until I actually met Jean. It was true, our passions for all things fine align quite nicely, and she has generously allowed me to experience more of the San Diego food and wine scene than I ever could have hoped for. All this to say, tonight would be a night of food, and those crazy Grunion would have to wait a few weeks.
Our original plan was to hit the Prado - an old Cohn stand-by that we had not visited in some time. As the evening progressed and time crept up on us, the decision was made to go to a restaurant closer to the La Jolla area. Trulucks, a Texas-based seafood chain, was decided upon and I anxiously paroozed the menu online while waiting for dinnertime to come around.
When we arrived at Trulucks and were greeted with pure friendliness, I noticed a classy and old school "vibe", if you will. It seems as though many restaurants are trying to be hip and trendy, yet there is often something missing. Trulucks boasts Southern hospitality along with beautiful red leather clam-shell booths and a live pianist. The menu was easy to read, and the wine list seemed fun with a decent variety that offered tastes, glasses, or bottles of the wine of your choice. I had the pleasure of narrowing down our choice to a white, and Jean selected a lovely bottle of 2006 Bouchaine chardonnay. We actually wound up getting two bottles of the Bouchaine over the course of the evening. Yes it was that good.
Dining with Jean and Blair is unlike any other dining experience, and it's exactly how I think eating out should go. Variety is the name of the game, so multiple appetizers and entrees must be ordered no matter how many individuals are eating. Tonight we started with the crabcake, the deep fried calamari, and the warm goat cheese. The crowd favorite was the crabcake, which our lovely waitress informed us included 93% crab and only 7% bread/seasoning (aka filler). This was one of the best crab cakes I have had, and I am looking forward to making it with the fresh lump crab meat I buy at Costco on my next visit. The calamari was just ok, the highlight for me were the two sauces it was served with - a light cocktail sauce that almost seemed to be more marinara-esque and a spicy mayo that was perfect with the crisp pieces of squid. If you order the calamari, be warned - those large round breaded pieces are not actually fish - they are fried lemon. Can be quite shocking when one is expecting mild and chewy and gets tart and stringy. The warm goat cheese was just that - served with chopped olives and a handful of flavored pecan chunks. My weakness for goat cheese tempted me to choose this as my favorite appetizer, but I know the crab cake was actually better.
We are now two glasses of wine in and ready to order entrees. For the entrees we relied solely on our waitress' recommendation. Blair had the Redfish Pontchartraine served with rice and a handful of grilled shrimp surrounding the plate. The fish itself was tender on the inside, crisp on the outside, and extremely flavorful. This dish was very southern and almost seemed like it should have been served alongside a spicy sausage jambalaya or cheesy grits. Next on the list was Jean who selected the Blackened New Zealand King Salmon served with fried green tomatoes. This salmon was, as promised, unlike any salmon I have ever tasted. It had a hint of smokiness and was extraordinarily thick and tender. Highly recommended! My dish was a Miso Glazed Organic Totem Black Cod. I am not sure I have ever ordered cod, but I am glad I branched out and did something different. The fish itself was quite mild, yet very tender and absorbed the Asian inspired flavors the rest of the plate brought in.
In addition to our entrees, we also ordered a one pound Dutch Harbor Red King Crab leg. I now understand why Truluck's is famous for their crab. This crab leg was tender, sweet, and did not need to be dipped in butter. No matter how full I was, I kept going back for more crab leg, digging my tiny seafood fork into the moist meat, wishing the taste would never leave my tongue. On my next trip to Truluck's, I must order the crab again. Maybe a pound all for me!
A couple more glasses of wine and way too many stories later, it was time for dessert. If you have been around Blair in the past two weeks, you have heard about the Bag of Chocolate she had on her last visit to Truluck's. A decadent chocolate 'bag' filled with pound cake, fresh berries, and a thick whipped cream (and I am convinced mascarpone, too) filling smothered in fresh fudge sauce and broken open for the table to enjoy - this is how dessert is supposed to happen. The bag of chocolate lived up to its hype, and I would certainly order it again, hopefully with more room in my tummy to enjoy all of those flavors melding.
Overall, I give Truluck's a 'definitely visit here again' score of 3.5 out of 5 stars, especially considering it is a chain! It seems to fit the La Jolla/Sorrento Valley after work crowd perfectly and I hope to experience the fresh seafood and fun beverage pairings many more times.
Truluck's La Jolla . 8990 University Center Lane . San Diego . 858-453-2583 .