Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
George's at the Cove actually encompasses two separate and vastly different dining concepts: the semi-casual Ocean Terrace on the top floor, and George's California Modern, a fine-dining restaurant on the lower level, below the bar. Lori Sauer is the pastry chef for both concepts, and it's a job she freely admits is tough. "There's so much happening here that there's no time to get bored," she says.
After working in several high-end kitchens, including The Lodge at Torrey Pines under Jeff Jackson and The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, she says she was ready for the challenge. "I felt I was plateauing. I wasn't being creative enough," she says. "I needed the freedom to be a little more crazy."
Sauer's summer menu at Ocean Terrace features a few classics, like Key lime pie and profiteroles, modernized with minor tweaks. Downstairs, at California Modern, where she says she has more creative freedom, you'll find just-picked summer fruit accessorized with sorbets, foam, and jellies, a study of passion fruit, chocolate, and sesame, and mini yeast doughnuts served with sundae-themed dips. Ocean Terrace desserts are all $8.50 apiece; California Modern desserts are $11.
Ultimately, as a diner, whether you dine upstairs or down depends on what type of desserts appeal to you, and how much you care about seeing the ocean. Go upstairs for more streamlined sweets and a great view, and downstairs if your main motivation is sampling something exciting.
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