The Thin Man Crosses the Big Divide

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman

It's 4 pm and somebody's hungry. It's not me or The Thin Man; we ate lunch before we came to Coronado. It's too early for dinner. So we ask at Brigantine Seafood at Del Mar if we can sit outside until 5 and they say sure, you can even order starters. The hungry eater is very relieved.

It's the Thin Man's birthday and we're out for a good time. New Englanders look to chowder; New Yorkers for oysters opened while you wait. Brigantine concentrates on cooked fish starting with small plates. Fried clams, mussels and clams in broth, coconut shrimp, crab and shrimp fondue, blackened ahi sashimi. The Thin Man had mushrooms Rockefeller stuffed with spinach that hit the spot. The crab cake appetizer was all crab. The hungry eater had fish tacos. We moved on to full salads, of which they serve half portions.

Chinese shrimp in greens with crispy wontons came with sesame-ginger dressing so exciting we asked for the recipe. And they obliged! Luckily the recipe calls for six cups of oil, a pound of this and a pound of that. So we won't be creating it at home any time soon. Brigantine guys, your secret is safe; I'll never tell.

When we visited in April, they were pairing wine with swordfish (Chardonnay), salmon (Zin), and halibut (Pinot Grigio). On today's online menu, the chef's special is bacon wrapped blue cheese stuffed sirloin. Meat eaters will find filet, baby back ribs, New York steak, ribeye and chicken piccata. There's fish and chips, cioppino and white clam linguini. How did I miss soft shell crabs? They serve a piece of ice cream cake big enough for three that we sneak a candle into, sing not to make a fuss, and down our beers.

The servers are gracious; ditto the management. If you're anywhere near the Hotel Del Coronado, cross Orange Avenue and get one of the outdoor seats. Lunch till 2:30; dinner at 5.

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© June 2, 2012
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