Starlite: Impressive, Tasty, and Chic

Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 0:40 —by Eddie Phanichkul
This item was posted in Food, Restaurants in San Diego category and has 1 Comment so far.


I look at the giant hexagonal door and think that I’m walking into the 24th century arch on the holodeck–and as another person put it, it’s like the end of Space Mountain. The door does not open automatically. And in fact, for all its splendid black tint and wooden handle exterior chicness, it’s quite manual–and ordinary. The entry used to be on the corner, I thought. This is definitely not 6 degrees.

I played a few gigs at this very spot a few years back. I remember the stage, the lighting, the bar, and the people. It was more of a lesbian hangout then. Now? Now it’s a posh, hip and trendy restaurant bar where they recycle their menus and use them as protection for their serving plates. It’s quite green, except for the fact that they print new menus everyday on heavy paper, but that’s the price of awesomeness I suppose.

I walk around and look at the joint. It’s still got the sunken bar in the center and the way out to the back seems nicer. This bar, a kind of dive that used to feel cold and barren, now felt clean, wonderful and pleasant.

I walk back to the bar and sit. The bartender offers me a menu, which sat in front of me. I took a quick glance and decided on the LEMON SIPPER. It was tart and sweet lemony drink with crushed mint filled with ice and made with Limoncello and Prosecco. That was a very pretty drink, but the taste didn’t impress me. Then again, I like Malibu and pineapple juice–a girl once said I had no taste, and on some occasions she may be right, but not tonight. That drink was merely okay, and not at all what others have raved about, though perhaps one with a taste forLimoncello may enjoy it more than I.

As I waited for friends to arrive, I asked for a menu and browsed it. The POMMES FRITES WITH AIOLI look good. I ordered that. As it came out, I saw a cut up menu below my bowl of frites. I ask the bartender, “Hey, what’s this?” She explains to me they recycle their menus daily. It’s very 2008 of them. I cannot really explain the taste offrites . They were crunchy, yet slightly moist inside with flavors of salt, pepper, and garlic. It arrived in a bowl with two sides of condiments: ketchup and a type of garlic sauce with mayonnaise known asaioli. I assumed they would be just French fries. They were not. These frites , at a mere $5, were a bargain that did not sacrifice taste for price. They may merely be fresh cut potatoes cooked and seasoned to perfection, butStarlite doesn’t feel compelled to mark them up to an exorbitant amount. I thank them for that.

I join some friends in the back patio and bar area for what is to become a night of bliss for my pallet. I read a highlight on the side column of the menu and it described the most amazing pork belly dish served on toast with a hint of local honey called ROASTED PORK BELLIES ON TOAST. It was such a simple name, slightly appetizing, but more so a curiosity because I’ve never had roasted pork bellies on toast. Amazing does not begin to describe this small, yet tasty dish. The pork is from a free-range farm where pigs are treated like kings. They consider them akin to the Kobe cows, but you know, pigs. I must admit I was skeptical, but after one bite, I had to share with the rest of the table–though my selfish side really wanted me to tell them all, it was merely “okay.” It was everything described in the menu. Served with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, the pork was braised and cut into small pieces. It sat atop toasted bread, and forgive my bluntness, but it was f*cking amazing. The sweet and tart blended with the salty, yet extreme tenderness of the pork. Then there was a hint of honey that came out of left field that left my pallet wondering when my next bite was going to be. The mere thought of it now gives me chills.

The wonderful flavors in the dish not only impressed me, but my new acquaintances and friends as well. Needless to say, I must go back to try more from their menu.

I reminisced about playing shows there, but in comparison, that old dreary place was a dump and something new sprung from the ashes–a great new place which I’ve always heard about but had never had the chance to visit until tonight. I will be back. I will bring friends. I will eat everything you have on the menu.

Compliments to the chef and to the new ownership. Truly, you have something you should be proud of.

Starlite is open late seven days a week, from the late afternoon until 2 AM. It’s inexpensive, the drinks are not too bad, and the food is excellent.

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One Response to “Starlite: Impressive, Tasty, and Chic”

  1. Fred said on Saturday, August 15, 2009, 18:25

    “…where the pigs are treated like kings…” until they’re slaughtered of course. But that happened to medeival kings sometimes too.

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