A cozy new jewel on Mission Avenue in Oceanside, 608 is a must-try for affordable, yet elegantly-prepared dishes. The simple interior is inviting, with rough wood and brick walls, a small bar area, and 4 TVs broadcasting the latest sporting events.
Diners can expect smaller portions and food boasting unique flavor combinations, including in-house dry-aged beef and a 7-course chefs tasting menu. “Other restaurants offer tasting menus, but 608 really displays our style,” says executive chef/partner William Eick. “We strive to create great food with what grows wild in North County, including proteins that are either indigenous or raised by local farms.”
Eick started at Tomiko Japanese Restaurant as a line cook, then moved on to Bistro West, and Georges at the Cove, then back to Bistro West, and finally Real Bar and Bistro where he took over as executive chef. “Most of my training, besides working for great chefs, has come from reading cookbooks and trial and error,” he says. “My mentors and biggest influencers on a personal level are Nanci Carrillo from Tomiko and Jason Connelly from Bistro West (now sous chef at Pamplemousse).
A supporter of the Slow Food Movement, Eick uses organic and sustainable ingredients whenever possible, and feels it is his duty as a chef to serve the community the best food; not only in terms of health and quality, but also for the environment. “Foraging produces a true local flavor, and we currently do it on a smaller scale, with plans to make it more prominent on our menu. Our fish comes from Catalina Offshore Products, with the exception of Bluefin Tuna. When in season, I get the tuna from a local fisherman that sources from outside of Oceanside waters.”
Eick expresses how he feels about food through pushing the boundaries, offering a variety of unique dishes without being tied down to a certain type of restaurant. He changes the menu often, but not seasonally. “We tend to change things up either when we get bored or if diners tend to dislike something,” he says. “I believe that’s what keeps us learning and progressing at a rate that helps our diners and my kitchen team feel at ease. There are things that have been on the menu since day one that will never change, and there are dishes we’ve changed four or five times in the seven months we’ve been open.”
The new scallop dish with house made Ramen is definitely a winner, but Eick’s favorite (and ours) is the Braised Short Rib with Panang Curry. “It’s such a simple dish, yet it completely reflects my style. Basic food, not overthought, or prepared with too many components, done well! I tell my cooks all the time, I just want my carrot to taste like a carrot, and my beef to taste like beef. Respect the ingredients for what they are and let the quality speak for itself.”
©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana