Artifact in Balboa Park, San Diego
Artifact is the new restaurant that Balboa Park certainly needed. The fine dining options in the Park were very limited. Now, there is Artifact, Prado and Albert's in the Zoo. (Panama 66 is excellent, but more informal).
Artifact is the best of the them. The lunch menu offers cool and interesting selections, such as dumplings and broths. The flavor palate is global with Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and Italian influences. For example, there is a snapper with rassam (rassam is a South Indian soup); beef osso bucco; a lamb kibbeh wrap; noodles with yuzu pickles; and much more. It is a menu that makes for a good read.
I had the citrus dried chili glazed pork shoulder wrap with bahn mi style pickles, herbs and a honey sauce on the side. It came with romaine as the wrap. It was very tasty and had so many flavor elements. My only issue is that is wasn't plated well. The lettuce was under a pile of herbs, which had to be moved to begin the wrap formation. Also, there were way too many sprigs of herbs with their large, woody stems. It made the plate look like fine dining for a rabbit. The stems of basil and cilantro is not a delight to eat.
The dessert was fabulous! It was a coconut tapioca with an amazing, truly amazing, yuzu granita. Wow! The very bright and acidic yuzu ice contrasted beautifully with the smooth, creamy and comforting texture of the tapioca. It also had small grapefruit sections, fresh mint leaves and a bit of passion fruit. This was Addison-level! (Addison is San Diego's two Michelin star restaurant.)
Artifact is located inside Mingei, a folk art museum located across the street from the San Diego Museum of Art. (Most of the Museum collection is upstairs, but there are some exhibits downstairs that are free to see.) It is a very bright space with outdoor seating also available. It is a different from the Cafe, which is also part of Mingei. This is at the corner and offers lighter, take-out fare with seating in the corridors. The Cafe is also very good, but is a different menu and experience.
|Delicious and pretty tapioca with yuzu
|The pork also came with jasmine rice
|A section of the menu
|I liked this small, understated bud vase with dried flowers