Review: First bite at Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen

Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/ Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

This all-day restaurant and bar at the 7-month-old Hilton Garden Inn Bayside in downtown San Diego has had its ups and downs. Opening chef Giselle Wellman left earlier this month and online reviews have been mixed, with complaints of slow service and inconsistent food. During my visit a few weeks ago, service was good but the dishes were hit and miss.

First the good news. The much-talked-about Maryland-style crab cakes are indeed excellent. Firm, filler-free and chock full of fresh jumbo lump crab meat, they’re delicious and well-accented with the shaved fennel, carrot slaw and spicy remoulade sauce. But at $16 for two half-dollar-sized cakes, it’s pricey.

Also stellar was the PS Salad, a hearty, wonderfully textured seasonal salad with farro, cubes of roasted butternut squash, baby kale, coppa ham, pomegranate seeds and candied pecans in a light sherry vinaigrette. It’s also $16, but big and worth every feel-good bite. The Chocolate Bar dessert ($8) is also excellent, a satisfying layered treat of Valrhona chocolate, peanut butter cream and dollops of toasted meringue.

The entrees weren’t as successful. The pan-cooked salmon had a nice complement of grain and fresh citrus salad but the fish was overcooked ($24). The papperdelle pasta in the lamb ragu was dry, the ragu sauce was almost nonexistent and the lamb, served in small ground chunks, was chewy and flavorless ($26).

Hopefully this attractive new location can work out the kinks.

Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen, Hilton Garden Inn Downtown/Bayside, 2137 Pacific Highway A, San Diego. (619) 819-0090.