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3rd Corner – Encinitas Really Needed This Restaurant

David Boylan

3rd Corner in Encinitas
3rd corner in Encinitas

I’ll start this week by admitting I’m a bit of a bistro junkie. Working for a company based in the South of France schooled me well on the pleasures of steak frites (steak and fries) and cassoulet. Both can be found on the menu at 3rd Corner and I highly recommend them, though the steak frites is simply called New York Steak and it’s topped with port wine sauce, fourme d’ambert cheese, and served with pomme frites on the side. Ask your server to place the steak on top of the frites and the juices will flow deliciously down into them.

Ok, now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk more about this restaurant and why you really need to get there.

First off, although “bistro” can be loosely defined, a few foundations are simple, flavorful, slow cooked meals that are moderately priced. Although the slow cooking is limited to the duck confit, 3rd Corner nailed the rest. There is not an entrée over $21 and most are in the $14-$16 range. Bistros have a nice mix of style and casual warmth, both describe the vibe at 3rd Corner.

Highlights from the menu included the artisan cheese plate, expertly described by our server from memory rather than placing it down with a cheat sheet on the plate. The stilton and goat cheese terrine with dried fruit, and pistachio nuts was served with, (according to my dining companion Chef Michael Zonfrilli) “uber-moist” zucchini bread that was just crispy enough to stand up to the cheese. Nice touch.

The smoked duck breast and watercress salad with blue cheese crumbles and mustard vinaigrette was perfect. The charcuterie plate included a nice selection of cured dried meats and sausages and was paired expertly with a dry, hearty Zinfandel. Speaking of wine, 3rd corner is also a retail wine shop and you are encouraged to pick out your own bottle for dinner. The retail pricing makes that a very attractive option. However, we wanted to test the knowledge of the staff that night and the manager Marc Plummer and our server Brian were more than up for the challenge. Knowledgeable, enthusiastic servers are a rare combination in North County and both these guys were spot on with their pairings.

OK, back to the food. All the entrée’s I’ve sampled over several visits have been very satisfying. The mussels are classic and served with a tasty baguette for soaking up the white wine they are steamed in. The grilled pork chop is served on a bed of lentils, onions, savoy cabbage, bacon, and mustard aioli. Several times I’ve ordered the New York steak and the mussels to split with a friend as a surf and turf and the portions were hearty and satisfying. Dessert has been solid, but not memorable, though I will admit that it was hardly needed after the hearty meals I’ve consumed there.

Finally, and this is big, you can order from the full menu 6 nights a week until 1:00 am. That, my friends is worthy of celebration in itself. How many times have you gone to a restaurant in Encinitas (besides Juanita’s or Denny’s) at 10:00 pm and they were already stacking chairs? It’s just a nice option for anyone who has spent any time in a big city where 10:00 is when the night gets started. The ironic thing is that  3rd Corner fills up with many of those restaurant workers from around town. That in itself is another good indication that quality exists at this place. Add to that an elegant lounge that has a bustling happy hour and daily lunch, Sunday brunch, and several monthly wine diners. General Manager Alex Lindsay and chef Lincoln Williams have done it right at 3rd Corner. Retail wine shop hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10am -1:30 am and the restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday, closed Mondays. Call 760.942.2104 and make your reservation today, or just stop into the lounge for a glass of wine.

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