616 J Street, Downtown San Diego
Jsix at the Hotel Solamar downtown closed down at the beginning of the year to revamp the menu.
The restaurant now promises food that is organic, sustainable, hormone-free, and that supports local farmers.
All of this sounds good, but it would just be buzzwords if the food wasn’t any good.
Luckily, the new menu is excellent, with lots of dishes that aren’t available elsewhere.
“I’m having the rabbit,” said my 11-year-old daughter and Food Network fan.
I was so proud of her. Some people have a problem with rabbit, but it’s a popular dish in most places in the world and more sustainable than beef.
Jsix chef Christian Grave braises the rabbit for two hours into a tomatoey, Bolognese-style ragout, served with ricotta cheese and homemade spinach pasta. The result is sweet and bacony and a revelation to people who might otherwise cringe at the thought of braised bunny.
I kept asking for taste after taste. Research, of course.
I ordered the roasted halibut which is served with potatoes and a fried oyster on top. Our waitress Michelle poured oyster chowder over the dish while I was waiting.
The halibut is buttery and the chowder is a nice way to sauce up the dish. I usually like a bit of hot sauce on chowder, but was eating it so quick that I was halfway done before I realized I had forgotten to ask.
My wife is a vegetarian who doesn’t do dairy. The entree items were limited as a result, but she was able to find plenty of options in the starters and appetizer sections such as the quinoa-crusted avocado, which is flash-fried and served with chimichurri sauce and grilled lime.
Problem for her is that my daughter kept wanting bites.
Both of them loved the sweet pea salad, served with mint, pea flowers and pea shoots.
My wife ordered it without the aged cheddar, croutons, or Caesar dressing. My daughter did like the dressing. Another option my wife liked was the roasted cauliflower with chimichurri in place of the usual basil dressing. The grilled broccoli with breadcrumbs, peppers, and onions sounded good to her, but was more spicy than she liked. I thought it was great so your mileage may vary.
We were both impressed with waitress Michelle, who was very knowledgeable about the wine list and food pairings — even with my typically bizarre explanations of the wines I like.
“I really like fruity Pinot Noirs that sort of coat your tongue like an old sock.”
“Gee, I don’t think we have any sock wines, but you might like this Carmenere from Chile.”
Jsix's menu is great for a foodie, but, admittedly, it was difficult trying to figure out what my particular (not picky) 8-year-old son would eat because the menu items sounded strange to him.
“Rabbit? Lamb? Rainbow Beet Terrine?”
He settled for the burger, the most familiar dish on the menu. However, the other food items we got looked so good he ended up trying things like the rabbit ragout and the fried oyster that topped my halibut.
As far as desserts go, the kids enjoyed Jsix’s upscale version of a s’more: a chocolate pudding served in a jar with candied graham cracker bits. But I fell in love with the raspberry sorbet served in a ginger beer that, I believe, is made there.
Desserts aren’t usually the driving point for me when I eat out, but I would consider a return trip to Jsix for that. However, I’d probably want the rabbit as well.