Food, Friends & Cocktails At Concept Two Seven EightEat + Drink A menu exploration at Hillcrest’s latest happening spot
Step inside Concept Two Seven Eight in Hillcrest, where each plate is locally sourced and imbedded with care, passion and a story.
“I want it to be an extension of your living room,” creative director and part owner Jessica Fisher tells us, “but with better alcohol.”
She’s young, spunky and has worked her way through San Francisco to New York then back home again to San Diego — where she brings all she’s learned to the table with the recently opened Concept Two Seven Eight. The restaurant name, in fact, is an ode to her address in Brooklyn — 278 Grove Street — a gathering place where friends came together for food, drinks and projected movies on the rooftop.
Chef de Cuisine Rachel Snyder is a San Diego native as well and met Jessica at Vista High School before moving to Hyde Park, New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America — where she developed an interest in meat and seafood fabrication. She worked at Frazier Farms natural food market on and off for 9 years, at one point managing the seafood department, and also cooked at 333 Pacific in Oceanside.
Today, she has a commitment to knowing where her food comes from.
“We work closely with the vendors,” she says, “it’s a collaborative restaurant.”
Taking a seat at Two Seven Eight is like being invited to sit down at an energetic friend’s home who’s an insanely good cook with great taste in music. It’s a relaxed San Diego vibe imbued with a bit of San Francisco, a bit of a Brooklyn and a whole lot of soul.
The bathrooms are filled with two things: celebrity mugshots and original quotes about food memories.
And then — there’s the menu.
The bar manager, Billy Potvin, was named Thrillist’s and Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender in New York City in 2013. He has a love for rustic aesthetics, fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit which is echoed in the carefully curated artistry of his cocktail menu.
There are items like the holy fool, made with Milagro silver tequila, cactus-passionfruit purée and ghost pepper salt — wolf in disguise with Avua Cachaca, dragonfruit, hibiscus, apple and yuzu — the 278 dirrrty martini with Hanger 1 Vodka, carpano bianco, house-infused rosemary olive juice, house cured sweet onion and that lavender blonde made with Fords Gin, lemon-thyme, lavender honey and prosecco.
The originality of Rachel’s food menu seems to be propelled by her favorite piece of advice from her father, “Open your palette to new things.”
There’s her House-Cured Pickled Medley of golden beets, baby carrots, red onion, cauliflower & mustard seeds pickled for 72 hours before being served.
The Street Tacos — three slow roasted carnitas tacos with pickled onion, cotija cheese and jalapeno cilantro crema.
The Charred Shishito toast with charred shishito peppers, house-made ricotta cheese, yuzu honey and a soft boiled egg.
The Zucchini Salad made with raw zucchini, fresno chili, watermelon radish, mint, ricotta salata and mustard vinaigrette.
And then, the grand finale of menu exploration: Jessica’s chocolate cake.
“To make the cake moist,” she says with a casual nod to the glass-bottled thick cream from Straus Family Creamery that is slowly poured over the piece — creating the perfect combination of cake, ice cream and milk.
We leave with a trace of chocolate pudding on our tongues. But we’ll be back — perhaps for Dinner and a Movie Wednesday nights on the heated patio under the twinkle lights or maybe, to try the Argentinian Surf & Turf.