Locavore Love at Table 926 Restaurant in North Pacific Beach

Locavore Love at Table 926 Restaurant in North Pacific Beach
From www.justluxe.com, by Merilee Kern

If you're someone who seeks to exclusively or primarily eat foods that are locally produced or sourced within close proximity to your home, then it is official, you’re a “locavore!” The movement has been rapidly growing due to a greater interest in sustainability and eco-conscious dining. Nowadays there are quite a few restaurants catering to guests with this specialized mindset.

table 926Photo Credit: Table 926

Among these is Table 926, perhaps the best-kept secret in San Diego’s North Pacific Beach area. This reverential restaurant embodies the very essence of being locally-oriented, even taking its name from its address at 926 Turquoise Street. Table 926 is small; but don’t let its modest size fool you. This is an independent, family-run eatery serving up seriously bold and fresh flavors. Even Executive Chef and owner Matthew Richman is locally sourced, having grown up less than 10 minutes away from the restaurant's location.

table 926Photo Credit: Table 926

Chef Richman has honed his eclectic culinary point of view through a career that's taken him all over the United States, including stints in gastro-meccas like San Francisco and South Florida. From these experiences and others, Chef Richman mastered methods and flavors that he’s adapted with food, showcasing premier provisions from the region in which he operates. He also taps into his own cultural heritage for inspiration. Blending California ingredients and French cooking techniques with Latino and Mediterranean flavors his dishes include Braised Pork Cheek Tacos with corn tortillas, pickled red onion, queso fresco and tomatillo-avocado and smoked chili salsas. Flare indeed. Amid all of these influences, Table 926 extends an ever-evolving, varied menu highlighting each season’s best.

table 926Photo Credit: The Luxe List

In asking about Chef Richman’s personal favorite dish, he was hard-pressed to choose just one item, conceding, "It’s not easy, but I’d have to say the Grilled Octopus Salad [with Spanish sausage, fried potatoes, frisée and paprika aioli] because it blends classic Mediterranean flavors that always taste perfect in the Southern California climate settings. The dish is fun, different, has a variety of flavors going on, and the fresh octopus is delicious."

Having eaten this dish, I could not agree more. Awards and accolades also attest to Table 926’s approach. Not long after it opened, San Diego Home and Garden magazine named the restaurant a “Silver Fork Winner.”

table 926Photo Credit: The Luxe List

"As far as the dinner menu, we do not have ‘signature dishes’ per say," Chef Richman explained. This is understandable since the menu is continually in flux—probably the foremost feature of the eatery.  "We’re constantly changing with the season to best highlight local, farm-to-table cuisine,” Chef Richman continued. “We have a seasonal homemade sangria and homemade Limoncello occasionally as well."

On the evening of my own visit I was fortunate to sample a broad section of that evening’s iteration of the menu. While I did largely enjoy it all, there were a few superstar standouts. The Braised Pork Cheek Tacos mentioned above were by far my favorite appetizer. The meat in this Spanish delicacy was melt-in-your-mouth goodness that was also seasoned to perfection. The tangy and salty pickled onion added just the right amount of tang and texture. The crisp greens and creamy cheese added an earthy freshness, and the dual salsas married all of the components to make this a very cohesive dish.

table 926Photo Credit: The Luxe List

I had not originally intended to order the Char Roasted Brussels Sprouts, but the table next to me had been served the dish and the smell was intoxicating. The vegetable, which was crisp from roasting on the outer leaves and tender underneath sans bitter notes, was tossed in a sassy Dijon-white anchovy vinaigrette and topped with grated parmesan and Spanish paprika.

Dessert-wise, my favorite was the Butterscotch Pot de Crème—an insanely decadent pudding that was more thick and mousse-like than it was runny—served with caramelized cocoa nibs, a spiced tuile wafer and a sweet and cinnamon-y snickerdoodle cookie. The Loaded Brownie with candied nuts, peanut butter Chantilly cream, ganache and praline ice cream was certainly tasty. I personally found the richness of each component (delightful on their own or with lesser counterparts) to be a bit overbearing in large combination. That said, plating was cute, and I especially liked the chocolate 926 garnish.

table 926Photo Credit: Table 926

When I asked Chef Richman what sets Table 926 apart from other area dining options in the area, he pointed out that, despite its elevated cuisine approach, the relaxed, beach-town ambiance of the locale makes it unpretentious and inviting for all. "Table 926 is the perfect culmination of seasonally-driven food in a laid-back, yet upscale setting. Wearing casual attire to enjoy our Roasted Duck Breast with pomegranate molasses is totally acceptable," he urged. Chef Richman eagerly added that his favorite non-food aspect of the eatery is the warm and knowledgeable staff who he regards as “the heart of the restaurant.” I would agree as the staff was affable and attentive throughout the entirety of my visit.

Even beyond its inspired epicurean endeavors, Table 926 also takes pride in engaging the local community through events, such as participating in dinners, tasting events and fundraisers that directly benefit the community. Having opened in December of 2011, Table 926 may only be a few years old, but it’s well on its way to becoming a San Diego staple. 

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