Restaurant Review: Eden

    With a menu titled “Food of the Gods” and divided into sections called “Shared Temptations,” “Eating with Envy” and “Enlightened Libations,” one might expect Eden to be a more upscale alternative to the kind of kitschy, family-friendly restaurants most of us try to avoid, a sort of Zagat-rated Rainforest Café.

    The contemporary American food joint happily dispels this suspicion, applying a sense of playful experimentation. A good place to start is the Dim Shui ($8), an appetizer that changes by day. Though the relation to Chinese cuisine may be tenuous at best, the braised, Mongolian-style lamb shanks are tender and well-seasoned in BBQ sauce and red wine reduction. The “Off the Hook” Ceviche ($12 — also from the “Shared Temptations” category) was pleasant, though hardly the “culinary LSD” the menu touted: The heavy-handed acidity and chunks of bland seafood in the dish were more akin to culinary Ambien.

    Eden’s youthful, experimental side is more easily appreciated in dishes like the Snufalufagus, a Sesame Street-referencing panini composed of black forest bacon, cava aged cheddar, fried eggs and buttermilk waffles in place of bread. Paired with the wonderful truffle fries, the Snufalufagus ($11) makes for a great (if overpriced) Sunday morning hangover cure.

    The Redeye ($19) is another example of Eden’s culinary whimsy, a “coffee-cacao rubbed grass fed filet mignon,” served with a porter beer-based demi-glace and vanilla-infused mashed potatoes. Though chocolate steak and vanilla potatoes might sound like a botched Willy Wonka experiment, the coffee-cacao seasoning is subtler than one might imagine, and the muted sweetness of the potatoes is a perfect complement to the smoky porter sauce.

    The Bangkok Halibut ($19) — a banana leaf-wrapped halibut filet served with basil-coconut crème and a lavender reduction — is surprisingly flavorless without sauce, while the lavender reduction is overpoweringly floral and unpleasant.

    The fried rice served with the halibut is a prime example of the style-versus-substance dilemma with which the menu seems to grapple: though the puck-shaped rice formation is plated well and provides an excellent foundation for the artfully positioned banana-leaf halibut bundle, the rice itself is underwhelming.

    Eden’s tendency toward stylish presentations is more skillfully employed on their dessert menu (subtitled “Sensual and Sweet,” in case you were wondering). Their signature Adam’s Apple ($6) consists of a whole baked apple filled with McIntosh cinnamon apple bread pudding and served alongside chunks of black walnut caramel and elegant scoops of buttermilk ice cream. The apple is cooked to a soft warm consistency that’s a perfect contrast to the cold, smooth texture of the ice cream.

    One of Eden’s biggest drawbacks is the price — entrees are a uniform $19, and appetizers and dessert are similarly pricey. On a student’s scant budget, Eden is best when you’re ready to splurge on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary.

    It may be no Garden of Eden, but it’s not a bad local substitute.

    1202 University Avenue

    San Diego, CA 92103

    (619) 269-3336

    RATING: 3/5 stars



    11 a.m. – 11 p.m.


    11 a.m. – 2 a.m.


    10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

    Price Range: $6-$19



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