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Arlo makes Mission Valley a date-night destination

Rabbit rather than chicken, wild mushrooms, and foraged vegetables

Rabbit trio: bacon wrapped rabbit, rabbit leg croquet, and rack of rabbit
Rabbit trio: bacon wrapped rabbit, rabbit leg croquet, and rack of rabbit

It was the first time I stepped onto the campus of the Town and Country since its 2020 renovation. As I remember it from my last pass through a couple years ago, the Mission Valley hotel and resort had been due for a little nip and tuck, and it's looking good. The pool sparkled in the late afternoon sun, and a young female singer performed popular cover songs for an appreciative outdoor crowd scattered among outdoor lounge furniture, enjoying drinks as the day waned.

Place

ARLO

500 Hotel Cir North, San Diego

Perfect grill marks on a bone-in Berkshire pork chop
The spacious interior of Arlo, the hotel restaurant at the Town & Country resort

I would only soak it in for a moment though. I was here for some long anticipated indoor dining. The refurbished hotel includes a new restaurant, Arlo, and its Instagram has been wooing my wife for the past several months with images of interesting ingredients and beautifully presented grill marks.

We got to appreciate the latter in person when her bone-in Berkshire pork chop arrived at the table, standing straight up on a plate loaded with beets and smokey broccoli rabe. The heritage pork, some call it the kobe beef of pork, lived up to its reputation for superior texture and flavor. It was certainly one of the most tender pork chops I've ever tried, and cooked to perfection.

I have no prior knowledge of Josh Mouzakes, the executive chef of Arlo, who was hired back to San Diego from a Houston hotel restaurant, following a several-year stint cooking at the Hotel Del Coronado. But I starting to think San Diego should be glad the guy came back. The structure of his menu is familiar headlined by entrees of fish, shellfish, steak, and surf and turf, but the details within show a tantalizing and sometimes playful use of distinctive ingredients.

There's the combination of curry oil and black garlic with a striped bass. Of smoked mussels, shrimp chorizo, and yellowtail collar on a charcuterie board de mer. Proteins including Pacific Northwest halibut and a 48-hour braised short rib sound good across the board, leaving guests like myself to make entree decisions based on side dishes featuring interesting and come-hither vegetables: heirloom carrots and cauliflower, fiddlehead ferns, sea asparagus, and Okinawan sweet potato to name a few. When the vegetables on a menu are enticing, you know the chef is onto something.

Arlo offers patio seating, some with a view of the pool and that singer, some placed strategically around an outdoor fireplace. A couple times during our meal, I wondered why we hadn't opted for an outdoor table. Dining indoors is still a novelty I guess. In this case, a large dining room offers plenty of room for extensive booth seating, a bar, and San Diego specific decor (I was heartened to see an old pennant recalling the brief era when the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers were a San Diego basketball team).

But what I found on my plate was more interesting than any decor. Because I ordered the most unexpected dish on that menu: the bacon wrapped rabbit trio. In other words: rabbit, three ways. Only the first of the preparations is bacon wrapped. This portion really captured the aspect of rabbit, with the meat inside the bacon resembling a moist breast meat.

The second rabbit presentation effectively turns a rabbit leg into a croquet lollipop. The darker leg meat is ground and fried within breaded crust at the end of a leg bone. I found it more intriguing than great, but it captured the gaminess in a pleasing way.

The third preparation was kept secret from me til it arrived on my plate. Spoiler alert: it was a rack of rabbit. Think rack of lamb, but much smaller, with tiny rib bones rising out of a filet of tender, succulent meat.

Altogether, combined with wild mushrooms (morels, or at least morel-like) and a puree of potato and ramps (foraged leeks), the entree barely filled half the plate it was served on. However, with such strong flavors, it made for one of the most richest plates of food I've had in quite some time.

And, fortunately, my wife isn't vegan. So, despite my eating rabbit in front of her, Arlo turned out to pretty great destination for a date night.

I would only soak it in for a moment though. I was here for some long anticipated indoor dining. The refurbished hotel includes a new restaurant, Arlo, and its Instagram has been wooing my wife for the past several months with images of interesting ingredients and beautifully presented grill marks.

We got to appreciate the latter in person when her bone-in Berkshire pork chop arrived at the table, standing straight up on a plate loaded with beets and smokey broccoli rabe. The heritage pork, some call it the kobe beef of pork, lived up to its reputation for superior texture and flavor. It was certainly one of the most tender pork chops I've ever tried, and cooked to perfection.

I have no prior knowledge of Josh Mouzakes, the executive chef of Arlo, who was hired back to San Diego from a Houston hotel restaurant, following a several-year stint cooking at the Hotel Del Coronado. But I starting to think San Diego should be glad the guy came back. The structure of his menu is familiar headlined by entrees of fish, shellfish, steak, and surf and turf, but the details within show a tantalizing and sometimes playful use of distinctive ingredients.

There's the combination of curry oil and black garlic with a striped bass. Of smoked mussels, shrimp chorizo, and yellowtail collar on a charcuterie board de mer. Proteins including Pacific Northwest halibut and a 48-hour braised short rib sound good across the board, leaving guests like myself to make entree decisions based on side dishes featuring interesting and come-hither vegetables: heirloom carrots and cauliflower, fiddlehead ferns, sea asparagus, and Okinawan sweet potato to name a few. When the vegetables on a menu are enticing, you know the chef is onto something.

Arlo offers patio seating, some with a view of the pool and that singer, some placed strategically around an outdoor fireplace. A couple times during our meal, I wondered why we hadn't opted for an outdoor table. Dining indoors is still a novelty I guess. In this case, a large dining room offers plenty of room for extensive booth seating, a bar, and San Diego specific decor (I was heartened to see an old pennant recalling the brief era when the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers were a San Diego basketball team).

But what I found on my plate was more interesting than any decor. Because I ordered the most unexpected dish on that menu: the bacon wrapped rabbit trio. In other words: rabbit, three ways. Only the first of the preparations is bacon wrapped. This portion really captured the aspect of rabbit, with the meat inside the bacon resembling a moist breast meat.

The second rabbit presentation effectively turns a rabbit leg into a croquet lollipop. The darker leg meat is ground and fried within breaded crust at the end of a leg bone. I found it more intriguing than great, but it captured the gaminess in a pleasing way.

The third preparation was kept secret from me til it arrived on my plate. Spoiler alert: it was a rack of rabbit. Think rack of lamb, but much smaller, with tiny rib bones rising out of a filet of tender, succulent meat.

I would only soak it in for a moment though. I was here for some long anticipated indoor dining. The refurbished hotel includes a new restaurant, Arlo, and its Instagram has been wooing my wife for the past several months with images of interesting ingredients and beautifully presented grill marks.

We got to appreciate the latter in person when her bone-in Berkshire pork chop arrived at the table, standing straight up on a plate loaded with beets and smokey broccoli rabe. The heritage pork, some call it the kobe beef of pork, lived up to its reputation for superior texture and flavor. It was certainly one of the most tender pork chops I've ever tried, and cooked to perfection.

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Rabbit trio: bacon wrapped rabbit, rabbit leg croquet, and rack of rabbit
Rabbit trio: bacon wrapped rabbit, rabbit leg croquet, and rack of rabbit

It was the first time I stepped onto the campus of the Town and Country since its 2020 renovation. As I remember it from my last pass through a couple years ago, the Mission Valley hotel and resort had been due for a little nip and tuck, and it's looking good. The pool sparkled in the late afternoon sun, and a young female singer performed popular cover songs for an appreciative outdoor crowd scattered among outdoor lounge furniture, enjoying drinks as the day waned.

Place

ARLO

500 Hotel Cir North, San Diego

Perfect grill marks on a bone-in Berkshire pork chop
The spacious interior of Arlo, the hotel restaurant at the Town & Country resort

I would only soak it in for a moment though. I was here for some long anticipated indoor dining. The refurbished hotel includes a new restaurant, Arlo, and its Instagram has been wooing my wife for the past several months with images of interesting ingredients and beautifully presented grill marks.

We got to appreciate the latter in person when her bone-in Berkshire pork chop arrived at the table, standing straight up on a plate loaded with beets and smokey broccoli rabe. The heritage pork, some call it the kobe beef of pork, lived up to its reputation for superior texture and flavor. It was certainly one of the most tender pork chops I've ever tried, and cooked to perfection.

I have no prior knowledge of Josh Mouzakes, the executive chef of Arlo, who was hired back to San Diego from a Houston hotel restaurant, following a several-year stint cooking at the Hotel Del Coronado. But I starting to think San Diego should be glad the guy came back. The structure of his menu is familiar headlined by entrees of fish, shellfish, steak, and surf and turf, but the details within show a tantalizing and sometimes playful use of distinctive ingredients.

There's the combination of curry oil and black garlic with a striped bass. Of smoked mussels, shrimp chorizo, and yellowtail collar on a charcuterie board de mer. Proteins including Pacific Northwest halibut and a 48-hour braised short rib sound good across the board, leaving guests like myself to make entree decisions based on side dishes featuring interesting and come-hither vegetables: heirloom carrots and cauliflower, fiddlehead ferns, sea asparagus, and Okinawan sweet potato to name a few. When the vegetables on a menu are enticing, you know the chef is onto something.

Arlo offers patio seating, some with a view of the pool and that singer, some placed strategically around an outdoor fireplace. A couple times during our meal, I wondered why we hadn't opted for an outdoor table. Dining indoors is still a novelty I guess. In this case, a large dining room offers plenty of room for extensive booth seating, a bar, and San Diego specific decor (I was heartened to see an old pennant recalling the brief era when the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers were a San Diego basketball team).

But what I found on my plate was more interesting than any decor. Because I ordered the most unexpected dish on that menu: the bacon wrapped rabbit trio. In other words: rabbit, three ways. Only the first of the preparations is bacon wrapped. This portion really captured the aspect of rabbit, with the meat inside the bacon resembling a moist breast meat.

The second rabbit presentation effectively turns a rabbit leg into a croquet lollipop. The darker leg meat is ground and fried within breaded crust at the end of a leg bone. I found it more intriguing than great, but it captured the gaminess in a pleasing way.

The third preparation was kept secret from me til it arrived on my plate. Spoiler alert: it was a rack of rabbit. Think rack of lamb, but much smaller, with tiny rib bones rising out of a filet of tender, succulent meat.

Altogether, combined with wild mushrooms (morels, or at least morel-like) and a puree of potato and ramps (foraged leeks), the entree barely filled half the plate it was served on. However, with such strong flavors, it made for one of the most richest plates of food I've had in quite some time.

And, fortunately, my wife isn't vegan. So, despite my eating rabbit in front of her, Arlo turned out to pretty great destination for a date night.

I would only soak it in for a moment though. I was here for some long anticipated indoor dining. The refurbished hotel includes a new restaurant, Arlo, and its Instagram has been wooing my wife for the past several months with images of interesting ingredients and beautifully presented grill marks.

We got to appreciate the latter in person when her bone-in Berkshire pork chop arrived at the table, standing straight up on a plate loaded with beets and smokey broccoli rabe. The heritage pork, some call it the kobe beef of pork, lived up to its reputation for superior texture and flavor. It was certainly one of the most tender pork chops I've ever tried, and cooked to perfection.

I have no prior knowledge of Josh Mouzakes, the executive chef of Arlo, who was hired back to San Diego from a Houston hotel restaurant, following a several-year stint cooking at the Hotel Del Coronado. But I starting to think San Diego should be glad the guy came back. The structure of his menu is familiar headlined by entrees of fish, shellfish, steak, and surf and turf, but the details within show a tantalizing and sometimes playful use of distinctive ingredients.

There's the combination of curry oil and black garlic with a striped bass. Of smoked mussels, shrimp chorizo, and yellowtail collar on a charcuterie board de mer. Proteins including Pacific Northwest halibut and a 48-hour braised short rib sound good across the board, leaving guests like myself to make entree decisions based on side dishes featuring interesting and come-hither vegetables: heirloom carrots and cauliflower, fiddlehead ferns, sea asparagus, and Okinawan sweet potato to name a few. When the vegetables on a menu are enticing, you know the chef is onto something.

Arlo offers patio seating, some with a view of the pool and that singer, some placed strategically around an outdoor fireplace. A couple times during our meal, I wondered why we hadn't opted for an outdoor table. Dining indoors is still a novelty I guess. In this case, a large dining room offers plenty of room for extensive booth seating, a bar, and San Diego specific decor (I was heartened to see an old pennant recalling the brief era when the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers were a San Diego basketball team).

But what I found on my plate was more interesting than any decor. Because I ordered the most unexpected dish on that menu: the bacon wrapped rabbit trio. In other words: rabbit, three ways. Only the first of the preparations is bacon wrapped. This portion really captured the aspect of rabbit, with the meat inside the bacon resembling a moist breast meat.

The second rabbit presentation effectively turns a rabbit leg into a croquet lollipop. The darker leg meat is ground and fried within breaded crust at the end of a leg bone. I found it more intriguing than great, but it captured the gaminess in a pleasing way.

The third preparation was kept secret from me til it arrived on my plate. Spoiler alert: it was a rack of rabbit. Think rack of lamb, but much smaller, with tiny rib bones rising out of a filet of tender, succulent meat.

I would only soak it in for a moment though. I was here for some long anticipated indoor dining. The refurbished hotel includes a new restaurant, Arlo, and its Instagram has been wooing my wife for the past several months with images of interesting ingredients and beautifully presented grill marks.

We got to appreciate the latter in person when her bone-in Berkshire pork chop arrived at the table, standing straight up on a plate loaded with beets and smokey broccoli rabe. The heritage pork, some call it the kobe beef of pork, lived up to its reputation for superior texture and flavor. It was certainly one of the most tender pork chops I've ever tried, and cooked to perfection.

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