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Dobson's Legendary Mussel Bisque Starts With Live Lobsters

Behind the signature bowl.

Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment. For this special Classics Week edition, Martin San Roman takes us into the kitchen at Dobson's Bar & Restaurant to show up how he makes their legendary mussel bisque.

There is perhaps no dish more iconic in San Diego than Dobson's Bar & Restaurant's mussel bisque, which has been on the menu since the restaurant's inception 31 years ago, when founder Paul Dobson was given recipe by a chef from a Michelin two star restaurant in Normandy, France.

New owner Chad Ruyle, who is planning a refresh of the restaurant, promises that the signature bisque, along with their popular curry mussels dish, will carry over into Dobson's next era.

Chef Martin San Roman, who has been consulting with the restaurant for a year, is currently working on a brasserie-inspired California French menu that will be 75% new and include a couple new foie gras dishes that have been running as specials since the ban lifted.

San Roman, who went to culinary school in Paris and has cooked around the world, has opened several restaurants in Mexico and is a chef-ambassador for Baja cuisine; he's planning a week-long celebration at Dobson's at the end of February that will highlight Baja food and wine from the Valle de Guadalupe.

The chef showed Eater how he makes the classic bisque, which starts with a stock made from mirepoix, lobster heads and bodies and whole mussels that are sautéed and flamed with sherry. He then adds cornstarch, plus whole milk and heavy cream. Once the stock has simmered and the bisque thickened, it's poured into a footed bowl into which San Roman adds cooked un-shelled mussels and crowns with a cover of puff pasty. From there, it goes into the oven for a short bake. Tableside, Dobson's servers break into the top crust and pour in a splash of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry. Then it's time to eat.

Watch San Roman make the bisque in the slideshow above.