Managing to feel both formal and welcoming, Mille Fleurs’ perfectly approachable, playful interpretation of French fine dining starts with sourcing.
Attention to detail at Mille Fleurs extends from gorgeous plating to the friendly yet professional service. For the kitchen, it starts on the farm.
Every day before heading into the kitchen at Mille Fleurs, Chef de Cuisine Sean McCart first stops at Chino Farm, just 1.4 miles south of the restaurant, to hand select the produce for the night.
“When it comes to the farm, we talk about what is currently growing or what I can expect to see in the coming month,” Chef McCarth explained. “I couldn’t be more fortunate to have the opportunity to drive four minutes away from the restaurant every day and have access to all they grow at my fingertips.”
It sounds idyllic, but this set-up doesn’t come without challenges. Working with a small farm means that at times Chef McCart needs to adapt the menu based on what he is able to pick that day.
Such is the case with the ever-popular Baqueta Grouper dish.
Baqueta is not as common on San Diego menus as other white fish. It is a delicious local option with a firmer texture than halibut and a mild flavor akin to sea bass.
While the fish reliably comes from nearby Baja through Pacific Shellfish, the rest of the dish is wholly composed from Chino Farms produce, including sautéed fava bean tops, tart kumquats, and pureed roasted sunchokes.
On the night I dined, Chef wasn’t able to find fava bean tops, but was inspired by some vibrant red beets with which he created a beet dashi to accompany the Baqueta.
The fish and beet dashi were joined by a garden of Chino Farms’ radishes, carrots, and Persian cucumbers for an elegant dish with subtle flavors and a fresh finish.
“What delights me about the produce at Chino Farm is how everyone takes so much pride in what they do,” said Chef McCarth. “It shows through the produce. You will not find better in San Diego, in my opinion. All you have to do is find the very best ingredients, and then don't muck them up.”
Other standout seasonal items featuring Chino produce include the Yellow Fin Tuna, served raw on a bed of quinoa tabbouleh with Meyer lemon and Kosho aioli. The Dungeness crab and English pea soup come served with pickled ramp bulbs and new potatoes.
A heavenly plate of Holland white asparagus wrapped in prosciutto served with a perfectly poached Gone Straw duck egg on top of a chervil hollandaise made with local Lakeside eggs, is reason enough to book a reservation immediately.