Sundried Tomato Presents Well

The cafe offers pleasant surroundings and courteous service.

In the mood for French Quarter flavor, my dining partner and I decided on Sundried Tomato in San Clemente. 

The dining area was a mixture of small tables and a few booths with an open-bar option.  We selected a small booth near the quaint serving window that displayed the daily special.

Our wait staff was pleasant, and we were brought water and table settings promptly and were asked what we'd like for drinks or appetizers.  We spotted the draft choices on tap and requested a Stella and Red Seal house brew with a complimentary bread basket while we decided on a menu selection. Although the Stella was an expected pleasure, I found the house Red Seal a bit spicy and overpowering. I put it aside in favor of water. 

The bread, simple mini loaves of French and rye, came with a minimal portion of tomato butter that didn't lend additional taste: merely bread and butter.

At our request, the wait staff recited the menu choices and told us details of contents and flavor.  We opted for the signature chopped salad to start. The green salad was presented simply and promptly.  It was a surprise of flavors, with dried cranberries, pine nuts, Gorgonzola, golden beets and red onion, lightly drizzled with cilantro caper vinaigrette.  

There was an explosion of flavor in each bite; we enjoyed trying to distinguish what each zest was derived from as much as we did eating it.  The salad was a bit pricey at $14, but we split the large serving between us.

For the entree, we chose the Mediterranean seafood fettuccine and got it shortly after finishing our salads. Nothing special to say here: a basic fettuccine with a few large shrimp, chunks of some sort of fish and scallops.  The tomato-bell pepper beurre blanc was touted as the prima of flavor, but it tasted more like an over-simmered runny marinara sauce.  At $22 a serving and a $5 open food charge for sharing splitting it between us, it was a disappointment.

To finish, we indulged in the Chocolate Decadence Cake, a seven-layer chocolate cake laced with hot fudge.  It was a large portion at $9—a great shared selection.  The cake was immersed in chocolate swirls and fresh berries, topped with mint leaves. It was extremely sweet—yet heavenly to the last bite.

Overall, a mixed dining experience: comfortable surroundings and a very courteous and prompt wait staff yet a bit pricey for main menu items and entrees.  The overindulgent presentations are appealing but do not make up for average dining at fine-dining prices.  Not a pass, not a rave.


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