Croce’s Park West. For those of a certain age Jim Croce will be remembered as an American folk singer & songwriter of such classics songs as Time in a Bottle and Bad Bad Leroy Brown. Croce sadly died in a plane crash in 1973 at the age of just 30 shortly after moving to San Diego with his wife and singing partner Ingrid. Some 40 years later his legacy lives on in the restaurant and live music venue Ingrid Croce first opened in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter in 1985.
13 years after our first visit (while on honeymoon) and finding ourselves once again in San Diego (on our anniversary) my wife and I decided to see if Croce’s Park West would be as memorable in its new location high up on Park West amidst the Financial District. We were not to be disappointed. Everything that was good about the old Croce’s has been incorporated into this new location, only better.
The ambience in the evening is warm and romantic but I can equally picture it being lively and buzzy if we were there for lunch. While there is plenty here to remind you of Jim Croce the live music which accompanies the ‘American Contemporary cuisine’ is contemporary and can be enjoyed whether you are seated in the comfortable lounge bar or the adjoining Expatriate Room where the musicians actually perform.
Seated in one of the cosy booths in the lounge we both started with the Firecracker Shrimp with chipotle aioli ($15), which I followed with the Pan Seared Sea Bass with sweet corn-fava bean succotash, corn broth and arugula salad ($28). While my wife chose seared scallops with squash blossom risotto saffron, summer squash, sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese ($29). The shrimp was thick and meaty but equally tender and juicy while the sea bass tasted just as good as it looked! I managed to purloin one of my wife’s scallops and we both agreed that Croce’s Executive Chef Russell Rummer had done an amazing job creating a really impressive menu.
I had also spotted Ingrid at the bar as we came in and before we left she had come over to say hello as she seems to do with most of her guests and even recalled the news and picture agency I was working with on my last visit! As I enjoyed the last of the Pinot Gris and sat back to absorb more of the excellent live jazz seeping out of the adjoining Expatriate Room I hoped it would not be another 13 years before I found myself here once again.
Food image (c) Colin Hockley