Sunday, January 3, 2016

Kettner Exchange -- San Diego

Kettner Exchange
We are always struggling to find good restaurants in San Diego where we do not have to go downtown worry about parking and wade through the throngs of weekend partiers.  There are several good restaurants that have opened in the last several years in the Little Italy District, one of them is Kettner Exchange.  Kettner Exchange is housed in a large new contemporary building with wall to ceiling windows, steel beams and plenty use of recovered wood that lap strakes the ceiling like a boat hull, and is featured in the kitchen, bar and eating areas. In the middle of the restaurant there is a piece of artwork that gives you the feeling a tree is growing through the middle of the restaurant with the myriad of branches mimicking a Banyan Tree.  Overall this is a very cool looking restaurant.  The Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski has a great resume starting in NYC at Le Cirque , moving to Nobu Matsuhisa in Aspen and Las Vegas at Joel Rubuchon's Mansion and the Yellowtail at the Bellagio hotel.  He has taken his breadth of cuisine and brought it together at KEX.  Brian also competed on Iron Chef america in 2010.
We were meeting four others and were seated upstairs.  As you walk up the stairs take your time hold the rail and read the stairs for an inspiring uplifting message.  When upstairs you notice that there is a second bar allowing the first and second levels to stand on their own as separate dining and drinking establishments.  The person we met had brought three others who were all Vegans each of them had been to KEX and were very happy with the menu of small plates that catered to their eating needs.
Soups, Udon and Butternut, Duck Meatball
Kale Salad
To start with several of us ordered their Vegan friendly Kale Salad everyone loved the freshness of the Kale, the leaves used are not the typical chewy Kale leaf but more tender and fresh, combined with Golden Raisins, Apple, crunchy Almond slivers with a drizzle of Lemon Parmesan dressing.  I had ordered a Chicken Katsu spicy Udon Noodle soup with Radishes, it was delicious and savory.  JoAnn had the Duck Meatball sitting on Anson Mills grits with Parmesan, the dish combined the richness and fat of the duck with heirloom grits grain.  There was recently an Anthony Bourdain show on Charlotte that featured Anson Mills and how they have used originally harvested seeds to recreate non GMO grains.
These were some of the favorite dishes, Kettner Exchange changes its menu often which allows you to enjoy this beautiful restaurant and have a different food experience each time.
The service is excellent, if you ask your waiter to help you choose on a local draft beer or a great glass they will gladly bring you a sample so you can make the best choice.