On the Menu: Get your sea legs (and lobster tails) at Fiddler’s Green in Point Loma
Prime cuts of beef and fresh, local seafood pull you into the cozy, old-timey steakhouse filled with nautical charm and kitschy decor.
Ahoy, mates! Fiddler’s Green, a Point Loma fixture that’s merely a few fathoms from San Diego Bay, set anchor at the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Shafter Street some three decades ago.
Ron Thomas, the new captain of the beloved restaurant, took the helm about two years ago from longtime sea-loving owners Steve and Debi Rock. One evening while dining at Fiddler’s, Thomas approached Steve Rock and casually inquired about his plans for the restaurant. Rock blurted, “Do you want to buy it?” And just like that, Thomas, whose previous career was in construction, went from rebar to ribeye.
Overcome by wistful nostalgia, recalling memories from his youth when his family celebrated many special occasions and non-occasions at Fiddler’s, he now waxes poetic about his newly acquired culinary treasure: “Fiddler’s Green is a sailor’s afterlife, where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stops playing and dancers who never tire.”
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The smoky scents of grilled prime cuts of beef and fresh, local, sustainable seafood pull you in and keep you seated at the cozy, old-timey steakhouse that exudes a rustic, nautical charm filled with an impressive collection of kitschy decor. Let’s start with an entire wall plastered with models of fishermen’s ships and boats; lifesize Jack Sparrow-like pirates that once were props used in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride hanging from the ceiling in swashbuckling poses; a humungous man-made tree behind the bar bedecked with sparkling lights, and a scaled replica of the Star of India, 4 feet long, 3 feet tall and adorned with stars and stripes.
The outdoor patio offers refreshing bay breezes and breathtaking views of boats sailing in the marina.
Now for the food part. Thomas proudly talks about Fiddler’s award-winning prime rib and daily seafood catches from fishmongers such as Catalina Offshore Products, San Diego Seafood and Tunaville Market and Grocery. A few faves include bluefin, yellowfin, mahi mahi, yellowtail, seabass and shellfish of all manner.
Everything is made in-house from scratch, such as the fresh dressings, cocktail and tartar sauces, garlic butter artichoke baths and New England clam chowder. Coconut-crusted jumbo shrimp and calamari with onion rings are among the popular appetizers, while classic fish and chips made with Fiddler’s red ale for the cod batter is another favorite. Or there’s the local spiny lobster traditionally served stuffed with real crab meat, clarified garlic butter and a choice of sides including fresh seasonal vegetables and potatoes (garlic mashed, baked Idaho or fries).
Fiddler’s daily specials trim $10 from select meats and seafood entrees starting with Monday Steak Night, which double-dips with Customer Appreciation Night, offering $18 prime top sirloin, fresh tuna or salmon accompanied by baked potato and Caesar salad. Tuesday, Tunaville Market and Grill Night, showcases “fresh local delights that our fishermen work hard to bring to this community.” Wine Wednesday and Thirsty Thursday offer drink specials throughout the evening, while rosé is served all day Sunday as a brunch special.
Or there’s happy hour with drink and food specials starting in the early afternoon and ending at 6 p.m.
The kids menu was designed by Thomas’ children to please young palates with fish tacos, quesadillas, burgers, pastas, mac and cheese and chicken strips.
Early risers can get breakfast every day with offerings such as seafood omelets loaded with scallops, crab, shrimp, avocado and cheese, or steak and eggs with home fries.
There’s still more. Groups of up to 10 can congregate around a circular table tricked out with a live fire sand pit in the center for toasting s’mores or just kicking back.
Fiddler’s also treats diners to a chef’s tasting table with select creations prepared fresh daily (accommodating allergies and other dietary needs).
Thomas and his crew tailor dishes “to suit any issue and restrictions,” he said. “We can prepare anything anyone wants in our full kitchen, even if it’s not on the menu, like barbecue brisket, pulled pork, salmon candy, large beef ribs and even crawfish boils flown in fresh from Louisiana during the season.”
Sweet tooths can indulge in Fiddler’s Famous Mud Pie made in-house with coffee ice cream, Oreo cookie crust and fudge topping with whipped cream and toasted almonds.
Finally, up to the lips and over the gums with an extensive list of top-shelf tequilas and scotches, a variety of whiskies, Bloody Marys dressed with bacon bits, plus mimosas and craft cocktails, featuring the Fiddler’s Fizz (a creamy, citrusy spin on the classic Ramos), the Bermuda Triangle (three rum, pineapple, grenadine and orange juice) and the Dark and Stormy (dark rum, ginger beer and lime). Bottoms up!
“This is a family restaurant,” Thomas said. “We treat all our customers like they are part of our family, whether local folks, sailors, business owners, seasonal tourists, singles and couples of all ages.”
Where: 2760 Shelter Island Drive, Point Loma
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Information: (619) 222-2216, fiddlersgreensd.com
Double Cut Pork Chops
• 1 gallon cold water
• ½ cup kosher salt
• ¼ cup sugar
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
• 8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
• Zest strips from half an orange
• 2 rosemary sprigs
• 4 bone-in double cut pork rib chops (about 1½ pounds each)
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• In a large stock pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the salt, sugar, bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries, orange zest and one of the rosemary sprigs until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the remaining 12 cups of water and let the brine cool to room temperature. Add the pork chops and let stand at room temperature for 2½ hours. Drain the pork chops. Pick off the spices and pat the chops dry.
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a large oven-proof skillet until very hot. Add the oil and pork chops and cook over high heat, turning occasionally, until crusty and brown on both sides (about 10 minutes).
• Stand the pork chops upright in the skillet and add the remaining rosemary sprig. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chops for about 35 minutes until the instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone registers 140 degrees. Transfer the chops to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Reserve the pan drippings.
• Using a boning knife, cut the pork chops between the bones, then run the blade along the bones to separate the meat. Transfer the pork chops and bones to plates. Spoon the reserved pan drippings on top and serve.
— Courtesy of Fiddler’s Green