La Jolla Light

Museum Café’s entrees are more than picture perfect

By Eileen Sondak
La Jolla Light

When chef and caterer Giuseppe Ciuffa took over the operation of the Museum Cafe, culinary artistry began to complement the visual art on display in the museum’s galleries. Ciuffa’s breakfast and lunch menus feature outstanding preparations and picture-perfect presentations, just what you should expect from a cafe that is nestled cozily in a corner of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla . The cafe serves lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. , and the selections are fabulous. Ask any of the regulars who frequent this delightful little eatery, and they will tell you that just about everything is tempting. In fact, narrowing down your choices is downright difficult.

Salad lovers will be thrilled with the selection of exciting offerings on the lunch menu. There are 10 salads in all, and they run the gamut from Giuseppe’s Caesar, with the chef’s famous Caesar dressing and a combination of parmiggiano and reggiano cheeses, to Mexican papaya and shrimp salad. Pacific salmon salad, poached chicken salad, classic Cobb and tuna Nicoise all get the royal treatment at this cafe. But a personal favorite is the red ruby beet and orange salad ($9.95)

This colorful mix of field greens, tender roasted beets, seasonal orange segments, salt roasted California almonds and Laura Chenel’s creamy goat cheese is anointed with Ciuffa’s special balsamic vinaigrette. Salads don’t get any better than that. However, if you want a more substantial luncheon salad, just add grilled lemon pepper chicken ($3), apple fennel-marinated Pacific salmon ($5) or grilled tiger shrimp ($6).

All the salads are from $7.95 to $11.95, and they’re all wonderful. Bread & Cie a rosemary rolls are served with each of them.

There is nothing ordinary about the sandwich selection at the Museum Cafe. If you opt for the certified Angus roast beef sandwich, get a delicate truffle aiole, caramelized onions, gorgonzola spread and ripe tomatoes and lettuce all piled into an artisan ciabatta bread ($8.95).

Another sandwich sensation is the pan-seared artichoke with sweat onions and sundried tomatoes ($9.95). This Roman delicacy comes with a light spread of olive tapenade and malted machego cheese.

You can enjoy roasted chicken Waldorf with toasted pecans and Granny Smith apple on toasted whole-grain bread ($9.95), mango jalapeno quesadilla with avocado and smoked gouda ($8.95), or a turkey pesto wrap with baby spinach, fresh tomatoes and avocado ($8.95).

There are a few grilled sandwiches to consider as well, and they each come with roasted Yukon gold potatoes. If you tend to avoid burgers because they’re often disappointing, give the Cove burger a try ($9.95). This beauty is a local favorite, thanks to the excellent quality beef used in the burger, not to mention the chipotle aioli, melted smoked gouda , onion marmalade and fresh ripe tomatoes and lettuce.

The Giuseppe special ($9.95) consists of grilled chicken with tri-color bell peppers, onions, melted Swiss cheese, tender field greens and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. It is served on artisan ciabatta.

Salmon fanciers will adore the Pacific salmon burger, beautifully grilled and finished by a light spread of Meyer lemon and dill aioli, crisp lettuce and tomatoes ($9.95).

Don’t pass on the soup, either. You can get the vegetarian black bean chili, topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese, by the cup ($3.95) or by the bowl ($5.50). A bowl will fill you up, but you might want to try a cup before you dig into your salad or sandwich. You can air ways take home the leftovers.

Your sweet tooth will have a field day at the Museum Cafe. Al1 the homemade desserts are delicious, so try a slice of cake ($4.95) or one of the many other freshly baked offerings displayed on the Counter.

Breakfast is served on weekends only, but plans are under way to make it a dally feature. The coffee is ready at 9 a.m. , and the breakfast menu is in effect until 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Try the cinnamon raisin French toast to with Vermont maple syrup ($7:95) or pancakes, available in buttermilk, blueberry or cornmeal. They’re all made from scratch. A short stack is $4, and a full portion is $6.

The Museum Cafe has a comfortable interior and a pleasant outdoor patio with tables arranged under the arbor in front of the museum.

The Museum Cafe is at 700 Prospect St.
Call (858) 581-2205.

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    “Thank you for making the gorgeous and delicious salads for the baby shower last weekend. All the girls had seconds (and some even thirds!) It’s always a pleasure to work with you and your talented staff.”
    -Sally Irwin