Friday, April 15, 2005 | Out and About:

Big is beautiful … in some quarters … and Pamplemousse Grille loves big. A well-endowed wine list and portions that many know will be doggy-bagged (you get a claim check and your leftovers are discreetly kept at the reception area until you leave so no boxes and bags clutter your table), seem to keep the place packed as it was one Monday night. But the portions, oh boy. An appetizer sampler plate arrives on a 12-inch plate with five items, including lobster ravioli, smoked salmon on a crispy potato pancake, lobster salad, tuna tatare and a crispy prawn. Even though each item has its own corner with the tuna in the middle spot, the plate looks cluttered. Unfortunately, I find that the flavors all meld so each dish loses its distinctiveness. A friend has the Kurobuta pork chop. It is double-boned and nearly overwhelms the plate. Kurobuta, as it is known in Japan, is relatively new in the market (Trader Joe’s carries it) and is the same as Berkshire pork. Owner/chef Jeffrey Strauss is well-known for his generosity to the community through his terrific catering and private party business, and that is where I have many times encountered Strauss’ good, well-served food. Open daily for dinner, lunch on Friday. Pamplemousse Grille, 514 Via de La Valle, across the street from Del Mar Race Track, in Solana Beach. (858) 792-9090,

Bits and Bites:

Oceanaire Seafood Room offers a $30 three-course prix fixe menu from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the Padres season. Dinner service is from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant is located at 400 J. St., in the Gaslamp Quarter. (619) 231-9977,

Estancia La Jolla, Hotel and Spa, would be better served with signage that directs patrons to the lobby and restaurants (confusing since it is a gravel drive and I thought it was the service entrance). If you miss the gravel road to the left and end up in the parking lot, walking down the hallways to find the restaurant feels peculiar. Once I found Adobe El Restaurante, the room is comfortable but my Cobb salad arrives already mixed … not my favorite presentation. The hotel is directly across from UCSD, built on the old Blackhorse Farms site. Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa, 9700 N. Torrey Pines Road, in La Jolla. (858) 550-1000,

Marcie Rothman loves good food – no matter where it’s cooked – at home, a hole in the wall or a white tablecloth restaurant. Known as The $5 Chef on radio, television and in her two cookbooks, Marcie travels far and near with an eye on what’s current in food. You can find her at

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