Thursday, June 11, 2015

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe - Restaurant Review

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe

Organic ingredients (many actually grown on-site), healthy and flavorful dishes, and an ever-changing seasonal menu... Sounds like lunch to me!  And today it was.

Dining with several members of our fun San Diego Food Blogger group, today we took an inside peek at Brian Malarkey's Green Acre restaurant at the Campus Pointe location.

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe

A hidden gem located just minutes from the bustling UTC mall or Scripps Hospital in San Diego (off of Genesee), Green Acre shares residence with several Bio Research, Medical and Corporate Wellness firms and brings a sense of balance to lunch and happy hour (Check Site for hours).

Not a restaurant you will stumble upon unless you are visiting one of the other businesses in the complex, Green Acre is definitely worth seeking out if you are in the area.

With an imaginative and rustic decor, Green Acre boasts dark woods and warm hues in both indoor and outdoor seating.  Catching my eye were the creative spaces outside featuring tables surrounded by wood which while totally open, lent a sense of privacy to the diners.

Containing several meeting and banquet rooms, Green Acre makes your event more than just business with over 20k square feet of combined meeting and event spaces, a private dining room, chef's table, an event lawn and billiards room. (Personally I wanted to draw all over the super cool glass white board wall in the upstairs meeting room!).

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe

But for everyday diners Green Acre offers a number of seating spaces in addition to a "general store" with several to-go options.  I've read the Happy Hours are bustling and fun, and our lunch proved fun and tasty as well.

With an on-site garden, the restaurant uses as many organic and local produce options as possible and the flatbreads, salads and sandwiches all boasted beautiful greens and vegetables along with a few edible flower petals thrown in for color.

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe

Starting with meal of the Root Fries (crispy and seasoned irresistibly with salt, manchego and a touch of aleppo pepper), the platter also included little jars of pickled peppers, pineapple and beets.  In my opinion... worth a visit just for these fries!

Working together our group of bloggers tackled the menu to order different dishes to get a taste of as much as possible, and started with an array of flatbreads.

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe
La Mesa Flat Bread - made gluten-free
Of the Mushroom (Garlic, Cremini, Burrata, Truffle Oil), Fig (Shaft's Bleu, Arugula, Prosciutto), and La Mesa (BBQ Chicken, Red Onion, Gruyere), my hat tips to the Fig.  Simply bursting with sweetness and contrasting with the cheese and arugula, this will be my meal of choice on my next visit.  Note that all flat breads may be made gluten-free, and we made our BBQ Chicken flat bread as such and it received thumbs up all around.

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe

Lunch for me included the Goddess Salad filled with fresh organic greens and site-grown organic herbs and pea shoots along with plump juicy cherry tomatoes, capers and chevre.  While I ordered mine with a side of quinoa as my protein, more mainstream proteins include shrimp, steak, tuna and chicken.

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe
Crispy Kale Chips
We also tried the Corn Cob (Avocado, chicken, bleu, bacon and egg) and the Nice! (Olive, farm egg, albacore, beans, tomatoes, taters), which I'm told is one of the most popular items on the menu.

More menu choices include various Paninis, Burgers (including a vegetarian Black Bean Burger), Soups, Chili and multiple sides.  A favorite at the table was the Kale Chips... nice and crispy.

So next time you're in the area shopping at UTC, visiting the hospital, attending UCSD, or for whatever reason brings you, take a break at Green Acre.  Follow Campus Pointe to the end of the road and bear left (look for Green Acre sign), or if you are in the front of the Eli Lilly building, enter and walk through to the back where you will find Green Acre.

Thanks to Green Acre for hosting our lunch today... I had not been familiar with the restaurant before this visit and I'm so happy to have a place away from the bustle on our next UTC mall visit.  See you soon!

Brian Malarkey's Green Acre at Campus Pointe

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies... #BloggerCLUE

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies

When someone mentions the word "picnic", what food comes to mind?  What's your go-to dish or treat?  But for that matter... do you actually go on picnics?

Defining the word, pictures of tree shaded grass covered with checkered cloths topped with lovely wicker baskets flash across my mind.  Opening the basket I see sandwiches, apples, pesto pasta salad, sparkling waters, and of course cookies.

However, I've never actually experienced this vision.  And frankly, I don't know that I've ever actually been on a real "picnic" per se.  Now, I have been to the park when the kids were little, and we sat on a towel in the sand and had goldfish, juice boxes and of course those cookies.  I've been to dance competitions where we sit in crowded dressing rooms and try to fuel the girls with healthy options between dance number.  And of course, those cookies are there to provide a quick burst of energy.  And I've been to Jazz in the Park.  This one had that grassy field, but we went more of a wine and appetizer direction with of course... the cookies.

Hence, this month's Blogger Clue theme of "Picnic" obviously needs to be cookies.  And the amazing Azmina, of Lawyer Loves Lunch, brought a number of options.

Hailing from my old stomping grounds, the Bay Area (the San Francisco Bay, that is), Azmina is a true gem.  Not only does she manage a lawyer job in addition to raising a family (she has the most adorable wee-ones, a boy and a girl) and writing a food blog, but she does it all with love and compassion, and her humor has us laughing with her along the way.

Seriously, finding a recipe on her blog took me days simply because I kept getting caught up in stories and identifying with most everything she said (Mom Glasses.... LOL!).

I have to admit I've actually made three of her recipes in the past few weeks.  The Coffeehouse Blueberry Lemon Bars made use of some of the fresh, organic berries we found last week and proved to be equally as good for dinner as they did for breakfast or lunch.  However my friend Christiane, The Mom Chef from Taking on Magazines, made these last month (read about Azmina's stint as a Master Chef contestant on that post) and I figured I'd better move on.

Recipe to follow for these guys...  Let just say that when you turn you back only to find one left when you return,  you know you have a hit on your hands.
The Crispy Tandoori Smashed Potatoes singlehandedly drew Liv and my husband from their activities straight to the kitchen as the scent of garlic wafted through our house.  We've actually had this recipe twice in the last week, once Azmina's Tandoori version and once simply brushed with butter and garlic.  Let me just put it this way... when getting interrupted from a photo shoot and return to find only one smashed potato left (I swear I was only gone for 15 minutes!) one knows we have a hit.

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies
And lastly, those cookies.  The epitome of picnic food, Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies proved to be another keeper chocolate chip recipe to add to my repertoire.

Slightly crispy on the bottom, but soft on the top, they also passed Liv's ever so stringent "cookie dough test" with flying colors.  Personally, I love the chopped chocolates in place of chips as we get big chunks of gooey chocolate in every bite.

And now for the picnic.  With California's drought pushing our water limits to the max, green grass is sometimes hard to find (I hear "brown is the new green"...).  And with kids schedules taking me all over the state (the time eases up a bit as they get older Azmina, but they do keep stretching you - just in new directions!) in the next few days, the pure "time" requirement for a picnic is not to be found.

But... if you are reading this on posting day you will find me in the car heading for Santa Barbara to bring my baby home from his first year in college.  My heart swells just knowing my whole family will be under the same roof by bedtime tonight, and my boy will be all mine again if only for a few weeks.

And our drive simply calls for cookies!  Thanks Azmina for providing the perfect welcome home recipe for our picnic in the car.  And perhaps we'll spot some green grass along the way...

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tender yet slightly crispy on the bottom, these cookies are the perfect picnic fare.  Note Liv also gave them glowing remarks in the cookie dough category!

Usually I post a recipe in full when I write about it... but I made these cookies exactly as written on Azmina's blog.  And while the cookies are one you need in your repertoire, it's her story that really touched my heart and let me see into hers.  Head on over to Lawer Loves Lunch and take just a moment to restore your faith in humanity.  And then have a cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe  ⬅ (Click for recipe!)


Now let's see what everyone else brought to the picnic!!