Restaurant Review: Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar

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(4 out of 5 Starfish)

After watching the documentary film “My Run” with my mom at the San Diego Film Festival earlier this month, we headed to a reception for the filmmakers at the Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar nearby in the Gaslamp District.

Croce's Owner Ingrid Croce

We tried some appetizers to start, Mediterranean Hummus served with roasted red peppers, garlic flat bread, cucumber and Greek olives; and Golden Ahi Poke with mango, green onions and ginger, tossed with sesame and soy, served with house-made taro chips, Sambal vinaigrette and sliced tomato.  Because of my loose tooth, the crunchy Golden Ahi Poke wasn’t the best choice for me, but my mom loved it for the combination of sweet and savory tastes.

This place had the BEST hot chocolate I have ever had!  It was creamy and smooth, intoxicatingly sweet.  It was so good that I couldn’t help but asking for another cup!

For dinner entree, I ordered rack of lamb, medium.  The meat was quite tender and juicy.  I also loved the purple and sweet potato twist with velvety texture and colorful design.  The maple glazed pistachio dusting added nutty contrast to the tender lamb.

My mom ordered the Alaskan Miso glazed black cod with green tea soba noodles, ginger sake broth, Shitake mushrooms, sea beans and a pickled Asian slaw.  The cod melted in my mouth and I loved the taste of it, although the sauce was a bit too heavy and overwhelming.  I prefer dishes that enhance the natural taste of the meat or fish.

We had a hard time picking dessert because each sounded so enticing.  In the end, we chose house-made ice cream, mascarpone and toasted pine nut ice cream, with honey poached cranberries, drizzled with aged balsamic syrup.  The ice cream was heavenly!  Mascarpone cheese is one of my favorite cheeses (I also love the goat cheese with fig) because it has an airy and subtle flavor that enhances whatever other sweets are there.

We conducted interviews with the director and producers of “My Run” at the restaurant.  My review of the 4-starfish rated documentary is available here.

The waitress at Croce’s was friendly and knowledgeable, and gave excellent recommendations.  The restaurant has been around for 24 years.  The owner Ingrid Croce’s late husband Jim Croce was a singer and songwriter.  You see Jim’s photos and albums around the restaurant.  The place has a festive environment.  I give Croce’s 4 out of 5 starfish.

We usually don’t go to downtown restaurants often because it’s far away from where we live and it’s difficult to find parking.  After visiting Croce’s and other Gaslamp restaurants, I would love to explore more dining destinations downtown.

Croce’s is located on the corner of 5th and F, the restaurant’s website: www.croces.com

On Oct 19, Mom and I attended the annual San Diego Press Club awards gala where I received my award.  I had quite a “feast” of “Perrific” food there!

Variety published a feature about young film critics today (Oct 22), with me in it! Read it here.

Also, movie buffs should check out the 11th annual San Diego Asian Film Festival (Oct 21 – 28) at the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas at Hazard Center.  Interesting movies about Asian Americans, featuring Asian filmmakers, or are made in Asia are shown, including some free movies.  Detailed program: http://www.sdaff.org


At 10, Perry Chen is the youngest award-winning entertainment critic, TV personality, Annie Awards presenter, filmmaker/animator, and radio host, reviewing movies and entertainment with his trademark kids-friendly starfish from a child’s perspective.  Perry became a national sensation on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and National Public Radio (NPR) with Liane Hansen, and a frequent star on the red carpet at film festivals and premiers.  He is the youngest columnist for the San Diego Entertainer Magazine and recently won the San Diego Press Club 2010 Excellence in Journalism Awards.

Read all of Perry’s reviews and upcoming events on his website http://www.perryspreviews.com

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