Yanni’s Bistro and Cellar

June 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

I remember having dinner at Yanni’s way back when they first opened, which was just “Yanni’s Bistro” at the time. Since then, Yanni’s has expanded and added a bar area, which added the  “Cellar.”  As a matter of fact, they have a very loyal following in the surrounding areas of Scripps Ranch, RB, Poway, and RP.  It happens to be a favorite spot of my friends B and her husband, as well as 98 and his fiance. B and 98 have both recommended it on several occasions when we talked about good restaurants in the area. 

But it’s been several years since the Mister and I have gone back. It’s one of those places we always say we need to go back but somehow just slip our minds. I don’t know why. It’s not far from home, easy to get to, great food and nice wine selection. But somehow it has always slipped our minds until recently.

Yanni’s is located in a typcial neighborhood strip mall in Scripps Poway, situated in the back corner. Sorry the picture is so blurry. I made the Mister take the photo as I was driving out of the parking lot. I threw my camera at him and said, “Quick, quick, take a picture since I never take pictures of the outside.” Uh, maybe next time I’ll slow down or even stop…

We got there around 6:30’ish. The place was hopping, a large party and most of the tables occupied. It’s obvious some of these people were frequent patrons by the way they were talking to their servers. We were greeted by Yanni who led us to a nice table on the Cellar side of the restaurant. Our server stopped by shortly after with the menus and to go over the specials.  The specials that night included an appetizer (can’t remember what it was), a salad which I’ll go into more detail in a bit, 3 entrees (white king salmon, shrimp ravioli, and pork medallion skewers), and dessert (can’t remember that either but it may have something to do with tiramesu). You can check out their menu online but just note that it’s not inclusive of everything they offer for dinner. I don’t know about lunch.

The Mister ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio. Then the bread basket accompanied with a dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar arrived at the table. The baguette was standard fare, warm with a decent crust and soft in the middle. But it’s those crispy cracker-like wedges that I loved. I don’t think it was pita bread because they were much thinner like a cracker and I forgot to ask (too busy eating it). I could taste the olive oil with some kind of seasoning and herb sprinkle baked on top. Delicious.

The Mister started with the Beets and Feta salad. And you know how much we love beets. He really enjoyed this. I’m not a big feta cheese fan but the beets were good, although it could have had a bit more crunch/tooth that I like in my beets.

I decided on the salad special that had no name, just a description. I had a choice of small or large. I chose the small and thank goodness because it was a very healthy portion. The salad was field greens with fresh strawberries, goat cheese, red onions, candied walnuts all drizzled with a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. The strawberries were quartered and very sweet. Good amount of goat cheese and candied walnuts. I loved everything about this salad.

Needless to say, we polished off our salads. I continued to munch on the crackers as we waiting for our entrees to arrive.

The Mister chose the White King Salmon special (I can’t remember whether it was listed as wild or not). I was intrigued by the White Salmon since I’ve never heard of it. Apparently some king salmon can’t absorb astaxanthin, a carotenoid that causes the pink/orange/red flesh usually associated with salmon. White King Salmon only make up 5% of the salmon catch which would explain its rarity in restaurants. But it is gaining popularity in East coast restaurants, more so than West coast restaurants. Some say White King is milder and more delicate than the red ones, and richer in taste. Some even say the flesh stays together better during cooking.  Well, after trying the Mister’s salmon, I have to agree on the milder flavor and so does he. I thought the flesh was very tender, not really sure if it’s because of the chef’s talent or the nature of the white salmon, possibly both. The Mister thoroughly enjoyed it, as well as the mashed potatoes and sweet potato puree that accompanied it. I thought the rich creamy sauce complimented the salmon really well, not overwhelming the flavor of the salmon.

I was waffling between the Shrimp Ravioli special and the Linguine Frutti de Mare. Now I don’t know if there’s any truth to this because it’s purely anecdotal from my part but I feel that [pasta] frutti de mare is a pretty good representation on a how well a restaurant handles seafood. My logic (however malformed it may be) is that frutti de mare usually comes with salmon, calamari, shrimp and mussels, sometimes scallops.  Since all these seafood cook at different rates, in a fair to overcast kitchen staff, some or all of the seafood component get overcooked. In a very skilled kitchen, all the seafood would be cooked just right. Makes sense right? Yeah? So I chose the Linguine Frutti de Mare in spicy tomato sauce. It can also be ordered with white wine sauce.

This dish had all the seafood components except for scallops. Fine by me since that’s my least favorite. Good amounts of each seafood and the shrimp was nice and large. I hate getting small shrimps in these dishes. Everything was cooked fine, although another minute longer and the seafood would have been overcooked, especially the shrimp. The sauce was nicely seasoned with a bit of spiciness. I could have gone even a little spicier but I think it was probably just right for the masses. The linguine was cooked just perfect for me, al dente.  A very enjoyable dish for me and a very enjoyable meal for us.

We were too full to order dessert but maybe next time. And I’ll make sure we come back sooner than the last time.

Postscript: I was chatting with 98 after I wrote the post and he mentioned him and his fiance were just there for dinner last week and that the Linguine Frutti de Mare is his favorite dish. I can see why.

Yanni’s Bistro and Cellar
12205 Scripps Poway Parkway
Poway, CA 92064
Tel: (858) 527-0011
Fax: (858) 527-0286
Lunch: Mon – Saturday: 11am – 4pm
Dinner: Mon – Saturday: 4pm – 9pm


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