Situated in the exclusive Rancho Sante Fe district, nearer Carlsbad than San Diego, this is a well-hyped restaurant. With German chef Martin Woesle who trained at the top notch - but now defunct - 3 star Michelin Aubergine in Munich, I had fairly high hopes. The decor is pleasant if a little formal, and the sevice was very good throughout. A starter of smoked eel was the best dish sampled, though a plate of vegetables ordered by one of my companions was also very capable. There area lot of salads as starters on the menu, and if you do this at an expensive restaurant then you had better be able to dazzle. Certainly the leaves were fresh and the dressing well made, but it was nothing remarkable (go to France to Alain Ducasse to see just what can be done with a salad). Moreover, my main course of mahi mahi was distinctly bland, while my companion’s dish of antelope had a decent sauce but rather dried-out, lightly chewy antelope (they had no idea what antelope it was either, and having eaten several in Africa I can assure you there are major taste differences, so this seems sloppy).
My apple strudel was pleasant, but my wife (who admittedly has an Austrian background) makes better strudel than this. My companion kindly paid the bill, but I assume it was large. The wine list is excellent, with rather varying levels of mark-up. However rare wines like Kistler single vineyard are here, as well as top producers from the old world e.g. Guigal Brune et Blondes at USD 75. At these prices the cooking is too erratic and fails to dazzle.