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Three Little Lion cubs

The spirit of Belgian Lion lives on in granddaughters

The Local Avocado Toast presents itself as an appetizer, but it’s more like an entrée
The Local Avocado Toast presents itself as an appetizer, but it’s more like an entrée
Place

Little Lion Café

1424 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, San Diego

The Little Lion Café inhabits a tiny building at the edge of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, right at the point where the long straight street becomes a winding road that hugs the coastline. The Little Lion Café is owned and operated by three granddaughters of Don and Arlene Coulon, former owners of the Belgian Lion in Ocean Beach. Anne-Marie is chef; Jacqueline, beverage director and front of the house; and Dominique (marketing and branding). Their motto: Food is love, love is family.

A friend who lives in the area hosted a group dinner there a few months ago. I remembered enjoying every bite, but it was one dish in particular that I was eager to have David try — the Flash Fried Cauliflower with capers, jalapeño, and lemon sumac yogurt.

The Belgian Lion once stood here.

When I finally brought David back with me, it was a foggy Wednesday afternoon with a marine layer was so thick we couldn’t see the ocean. The cauliflower wasn’t on the day menu, but the silver lining around this cloudy day was an entire new set of options to explore, including brunch (the day menu is in effect from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.). The drink choices were extensive, from elaborate smoothies (e.g., Chocolate Hemp, with hemp milk, agave, vanilla, cocoa, peanut butter, banana) to mimosas to house-made “tonics and elixirs.” I opted for a bottle of Lorina Sparkling Lemonade ($4).

The Classic Cobb could have been better

We ordered the Local Avocado Toast ($9), figuring it as an appetizer, but what arrived could have stood alone as an entrée. A long slice of La Brea Baguette was buried beneath the avocado and a salad of shaved vegetables and herbs tossed in Green Goddess dressing, all of which was accompanied by a medley of seasonal fruit. The vegetable mixture was a toothsome salad, and the tartness of the dressing contrasted nicely with the rich, creamy avocado.

David gushed over the House-Smoked Salmon Plate

I ordered the Classic Cobb Salad ($13) with mixed greens, poached chicken, bacon, gorgonzola, egg, tomato, avocado, and champagne vinaigrette. I’ve been on a cobb salad kick lately, so I couldn’t help but compare this version to my recent favorite at Kensington Café. I lamented the lack of a creamy rich dressing such as ranch or blue cheese, as I’ve come to associate that as part of a “classic cobb.” The champagne vinaigrette was too tart for the bacon and avocado and seemed to clash rather than compliment the gorgonzola. The upside to this dish was the generosity of fresh garden ingredients, which I ended up enjoying without the dressing.

David gushed over the House-Smoked Salmon Plate ($14). The presentation was a designer’s delight, and the accoutrements were above and beyond: shaved onion, capers, créme fraiche, herbed farmers cheese, sieved egg, and toasted La Brea baguette. The salmon was not too heavily smoked, wasn’t overcooked, and had a fresh, clean flavor. It reminded him of the typical bagel and lox show but with an inventive decision to use cooked salmon filet in place of lox. If there is one improvement to be made, David says it would be to add more sieved egg, which he enjoyed, though there was only a bite of it.

I still want to bring him back at night to try that cauliflower. Based on this meal, David says he can’t wait.

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The Local Avocado Toast presents itself as an appetizer, but it’s more like an entrée
The Local Avocado Toast presents itself as an appetizer, but it’s more like an entrée
Place

Little Lion Café

1424 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, San Diego

The Little Lion Café inhabits a tiny building at the edge of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, right at the point where the long straight street becomes a winding road that hugs the coastline. The Little Lion Café is owned and operated by three granddaughters of Don and Arlene Coulon, former owners of the Belgian Lion in Ocean Beach. Anne-Marie is chef; Jacqueline, beverage director and front of the house; and Dominique (marketing and branding). Their motto: Food is love, love is family.

A friend who lives in the area hosted a group dinner there a few months ago. I remembered enjoying every bite, but it was one dish in particular that I was eager to have David try — the Flash Fried Cauliflower with capers, jalapeño, and lemon sumac yogurt.

The Belgian Lion once stood here.

When I finally brought David back with me, it was a foggy Wednesday afternoon with a marine layer was so thick we couldn’t see the ocean. The cauliflower wasn’t on the day menu, but the silver lining around this cloudy day was an entire new set of options to explore, including brunch (the day menu is in effect from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.). The drink choices were extensive, from elaborate smoothies (e.g., Chocolate Hemp, with hemp milk, agave, vanilla, cocoa, peanut butter, banana) to mimosas to house-made “tonics and elixirs.” I opted for a bottle of Lorina Sparkling Lemonade ($4).

The Classic Cobb could have been better

We ordered the Local Avocado Toast ($9), figuring it as an appetizer, but what arrived could have stood alone as an entrée. A long slice of La Brea Baguette was buried beneath the avocado and a salad of shaved vegetables and herbs tossed in Green Goddess dressing, all of which was accompanied by a medley of seasonal fruit. The vegetable mixture was a toothsome salad, and the tartness of the dressing contrasted nicely with the rich, creamy avocado.

David gushed over the House-Smoked Salmon Plate

I ordered the Classic Cobb Salad ($13) with mixed greens, poached chicken, bacon, gorgonzola, egg, tomato, avocado, and champagne vinaigrette. I’ve been on a cobb salad kick lately, so I couldn’t help but compare this version to my recent favorite at Kensington Café. I lamented the lack of a creamy rich dressing such as ranch or blue cheese, as I’ve come to associate that as part of a “classic cobb.” The champagne vinaigrette was too tart for the bacon and avocado and seemed to clash rather than compliment the gorgonzola. The upside to this dish was the generosity of fresh garden ingredients, which I ended up enjoying without the dressing.

David gushed over the House-Smoked Salmon Plate ($14). The presentation was a designer’s delight, and the accoutrements were above and beyond: shaved onion, capers, créme fraiche, herbed farmers cheese, sieved egg, and toasted La Brea baguette. The salmon was not too heavily smoked, wasn’t overcooked, and had a fresh, clean flavor. It reminded him of the typical bagel and lox show but with an inventive decision to use cooked salmon filet in place of lox. If there is one improvement to be made, David says it would be to add more sieved egg, which he enjoyed, though there was only a bite of it.

I still want to bring him back at night to try that cauliflower. Based on this meal, David says he can’t wait.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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