Every so often, a restaurant wedged in the corner of a busy cross street proves to be one of the most incredible dining experiences you’ll ever have.
San Diego’s TRUST restaurant easily fits into this category. As the first of many concepts in the TRUST Restaurant Group, this stellar eatery has been raising the bar in the restaurant scene around town for both brunch and dinner for the last six years.
Pull up a seat and kick back as the wood-fired food hits the table in this warm and inviting space filled with life, amazing service, and arguably some of the best food you will ever have the fortune of tasting in your life.
TRUST opened up back in 2016 with a vision created by Chef Brian Wise. He was inspired by California’s Central Coast flavors, particularly drawing from his love for Santa Maria-style grilling. He fell in love with the ancient method of cooking by a live fire, and “wood-fired everything” has become the thing he’s most known for around town.
Prior to setting up his own shop with TRUST, Chef Wise was originally the Executive Chef at JRDN in San Diego’s Belmont Park. He was able to bring on a few investors when he started showcasing his ideas for TRUST and held tastings at his house to display his unique blends of food and beverage. The restaurant was a hit off the bat and rendered Chef Wise determined to push San Diego’s culinary scene as far forward as he could take it.
The restaurant quickly turned into the Restaurant Group, with five other concepts eventually added to the mix around town. To date, Chef Wise is the mastermind behind Fort Oak, Rare Society, Cardellino, Mr. Trustee, and The Wise Ox, with even more surprises planned in the upcoming months and years. While they each have their own theme and focus, they all carry that same wood-fired taste and locally sourced products to make any meal in any of their restaurants a memorable and tasty experience.
As Chef Wise sets out to make even more epic restaurants in town, Sous Chef Aidan Owens manages the daily operations at TRUST. As an Australian native, he brings some inventive flavor combinations to the table and is credited with preparing the meal we enjoyed when we went here.
The food at TRUST comes with a freshness you can taste.
The chefs' shop around at local Farmer’s Markets for all of their produce, and the menu changes based on availability. There’s a date at the top of the menu to let you know how recent it is, and while the bulk of the menu rotates, there are still a few staples that should stick around for the long hall.
In addition to shopping around at the local markets for the produce, The Wise Ox within the restaurant group also acts as their own butcher shop for all of the meat. Their butcher shop also provides the rest of the meat for the other restaurants and has an optional monthly subscription for anyone who wants to use them on a consistent basis.
The fish on the menu is also sourced locally, but the octopus is the only thing that comes from a little further away because it’s harder to source.
I was warned in advance that TRUST would be an unforgettable meal, but I had no idea how true that would end up being.
Since the main focus at TRUST is community, the dishes prepared here are meant to be shared, as that is a style of dining meant to connect people together. With only three full-on entrees on the menu, everything else is made to be passed around and enjoyed by all at the table, so no flavor gets left untouched.
We started out our dinner with the Embered Local Squash, accompanied with white corn, basil, fried amaranth and feta, burrata, and heirloom tomatoes, all mixed together in a harissa vinaigrette. I thought I had taken a bite out of heaven as we dove in. This is the type of dish you don’t inhale, despite how good it is. My tastebuds practically begged me to eat as slowly as possible because they were afraid of what would happen as soon as the flavors went away. This could be the only thing I ate for the rest of my life, and I would never tire of it.
After the squash, we were equally impressed by the Steamed Clams and the Charred Pork Belly. The clams had housemade ‘nduja salumi, fennel, wine, herb butter, and grilled bread to help mop up all of the sauce. As for the pork belly, the white curry sauce was made with coconut milk and is a great option for people who struggle with dairy. The char siu, stone fruit, and fried chicharrones were also a nice touch and helped round the meal out for a nice balance. The pork belly itself melts in your mouth and, like the squash, this meal demanded to be enjoyed slowly, not demolished in a blink.
The wood-fired taste is peppered across almost everything on the menu, and I can’t wait for my next chance to come back and experiment a little more. Maybe I’ll even be daring and try out the 30-ounce Ribeye or save room to try out one of their desserts.
You’ll definitely want to make reservations here, especially on the weekend brunch. You can book your reservation directly on their website, so you never miss a chance to grab a seat.
They’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, with dinner served from 5-9 on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They stay open until 10 on Fridays and Saturdays. The weekend brunch runs on Saturdays and Sundays from 9-2 and definitely requires a reservation because it books up fast! Also, be sure to leave yourself a little extra wiggle room to find some parking.
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