10300 Campus Point Drive, University City
I already liked Green Acre Campus Pointe on the approach. I went looking for the Brian Malarkey restaurant after enjoying the sandwiches at his new Little Italy spot, Herb & Eatery.
Green Acre is a little more out of the way for me, in Sorrento Valley atop a narrow triangle of mesa-top squeezed between the merging 5 and 805 freeways. A dedicated parking lot sits above the restaurant itself, near the mesa’s peak, with a view towards North County. I paused there a moment to enjoy the fresh air and the lifted spirits that come from literally looking down on the world.
It’s not something I’d have discovered by accident. The daytime restaurant occupies the north end of a sprawling assortment of business campuses housing biotech companies. Like its sister restaurant, Green Acre Nautilus, which sits across I- 5 on General Atomics Court, the organic eatery is designed to serve health-conscious tech professionals when they break for lunch.
I’m barely professional and certainly not tech, so I almost felt like an interloper going in. I figured it would be a little grab-and-go counter with harried white collar types loading their coffees with Splenda packets and eating packaged turkey wraps standing up. And here I am with a camera and critical palate, invading their turf.
Sure enough, a grab-and-go counter is a part of it, but only a small part. For those looking to sit and relax over a meal, you have the choice of a sprawling outdoor space featuring fire pits, cornhole, ping pong, and an on-site organic garden; an airy, verdant cafeteria; and a warm, comfortable dining room like you’d find in a midcentury hotel. There’s even a private dining room for events and a small bar.
I grabbed a seat in the cafeteria, which is unlike any I’ve ever seen. It’s been awhile since I’ve worked in a business park environment, but if I’d known one would evolve to feature a restaurant like this someday I might have paid more attention in science class. It’s the sort of place I might pick to catch up with an old friend or meet a blind date.
However, other than Thursday and Friday happy hour, the place is only open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays. The beverage menu covers any time of day, including coffee, tea, craft soda, beer, wine, and craft cocktails. The breakfast menu features bowls, breads, eggs, and smoothies. The lunch menu primarily sticks to sandwiches, salads, and brick-oven flatbreads, with a couple of pasta dishes and burgers.
The Cubano sandwich was my third choice. My first two, the rotisserie chicken and lamb gyro, tend to sell out fast each day, and when I showed up at 12:30 p.m., neither were available. So I “settled” for the Havana Affair with slow-roasted pork shoulder, Oregon ham, Roma tomato, pickles, and herbs, plus melted Gruyère and mozzarella. The pork shoulder had an earthy, umami appeal that complemented the saltier ham.The roll it was served on was light and crisp. Accompanying it was a small green salad, and I added a hearty, tangy cup of tomato soup.
All good. And I don’t think anybody thought less of me for not working in the sciences, so even if you don’t work in the area I think it’s safe to visit.