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Jan 11, 2007 08:13 PM

San Diego Restaurant Week 2007

I've been greatly enjoying the few SDRW reviews that have been posted lately and reading through everyone's thoughts and comments. I've learned that Pamplemousse is not making the impression I had expected and it is also adding a 20% gratuity to the bill (Baleen did this, too). I've learned that 1500 Ocean is probably worth a stop on a regular night (and didn't add 20% gratuity) and Tapenade is now on my list of places to try.

While I like the detailed, individual reviews, I thought it would be nice to have a spot to comment on SDRW in general. Like:

Who else is tacking on 20% gratuity and do you think it's worth it? Are they also the restaurants that are charging $40 instead of $30?

Do you still feel you're getting a value at $40, or are the dishes leaving you feeling like you paid an extra $10 than you should?

If you've been to the restaurant before, do you think the service or quality of food is dramatically different (either extra effort to show off or a lack of caring quality)?

If you tried a new restaurant, would you come back to pay full price (for an entree, and maybe split dessert) or are you just glad you got to check it out at a "reduced" price and if you have a special occasion you'll come back? Conversely, did you have such a sad experience during SDRW that you won't come back even if they're lauded as wonderful the rest of the year?

I'll start below..

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  1. Baleen (as you see above and in my separate review) is adding 20% and I would probably let it slip if they stuck with a $30 price. Or if I felt extra-special like they make me feel at Ruth's Chris (even if they do tend to talk more to my bf than to me).

    Last year, we felt we got away with highway robbery at the Marine Room for $30 (their lobster bisque alone is $12!). The quality and enjoyment of the food at Baleen didn't leave us feeling like we spent too much (wine and cocktails are another story). It also didn't leave us feeling like we got a bargain, though.

    Baleen was new to all of us and since they're in the process of changing the menu, I'd wait to see how that ends up looking. The food was good enough that I'd like to go back, but we'd probably order just an entree and split an appetizer or dessert, since it's not a place I can envision spending over $100 for two (and their bread isn't that great). I also have no idea how expensive their regular menu is, since we didn't get to see it at dinner.

    We're hitting up Chive tonight. I'll let you all know how that goes.

    1. 1500 Ocean and Tapenade both were $40, and both had fairly priced wine selections. Gratuity was at the diner's discretion.

      As far as I'm concerned, both of those places were bargains.

      1500 Ocean was new to us, but we'll definitely be back when we feel like venturing over the bridge to Coronado. Tapenade had been on our "occasional" rotation for several years, and the quality of the SDRW offerings, in my opinion, was pretty typical of the talent in the kitchen.

      By the way, last year's RW was our first time eating at Oceanaire. Even though we weren't the kind of expense account diners that seem to frequent that place (think $100 appetizer plates), we were treated *very* well, and thought the entire experience was a steal. We've since been back several times on our own dime, and while not every meal was worth setting off fireworks, they were all pretty good, and the memory of that Restaurant Week experience has kept us smiling.
      . . . jim strain in san diego.

      1. This week is a great time to try those places, we only have dreamt about. ALways looking for a new taste treat after many years of eating at home or the usual all American.

        Last nite, I went to CAVAILLON in Santa Luz area, which is part of the developing area of Carmel Valley, which only a few years ago was a collection of palm nursery farms and a couple of muddy tire tracks to get to them. Now on it's on the way to getting built up. I have looked for some better places for an occasional gastronomic treat and look forward to making use of Restaurant week to find them.

        Here is what I enjoyed, and believe it to be one of the finest meals, that I have ever had any where around the world. Very nicely prepared and presented, even though I sat at the bar and learned as much as I could. They were booked for restaurant week, but have tables for more diners at other times. There were a number of walk ups, that were turned away.

        Probably the best authentic gourmet meal, that I have ever had the pleasure to eat. The chef has worked his magic around town at some of the most noted places after his experience/training in France before Cavaillon was created a year ago.

        Got a taste of squid ink sauce, which is used to sprinkled on the Calamari with Saffron Risotto appetizer!

        I preferred my Appetizer of Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Port Wine, White Truffle Oil, a little sweet, but I left the plate clean (with the help of bits of bread). Then for the Main plate, I chose the Tasmanian Trout, a larger salmon-like fish without bones, served with Glazed winter Root Vegetables, Roasted Garlic Chantilly. I left the plate clean with a use of a nice warm bun. Dessert was a Manjari Chocolate Tart (Madagascar chocolate with small red cherries) topped with Passion Fruit Custard, Coconut Ice Cream. I had the fork to soak up the Coconut cream and bits of the Custard as best as I could. Nothing was left at any time! That is how good it was.

        There is no doubt of all the new places I choose the past two years, this is at the TOP of the list! It is reasonably priced for the quality of the foods enjoyed. I would be hard pressed to recommend a better place. Some of the secret must be, that it is not located in a busy part of town with a pace to enjoy the fine tastes.
        At $40 Prix Fixe week's Menu, I think it is reasonable at any other time, but moreso on Monday nites if you miss the last two nights of this weeks special event.

        There is a MONDAY'S Prix Fixe dinner menu at $32.00, which I plan to take advanatage of as OFTEN as possible. For example, the Main Course
        featured Braised Short Ribs, Burgundy Style, Pan Roasted Salmon, or Mushrooms and Butternut Squash Risotto. Appetizers are a choice of Escargots in Garlic and Parsley Butter, Eggplant and Goat Cheese or Classic French Onion SOup.
        For Dessert you can choose Cheese Cake Moussse with Passion Friut and Pinapple, Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Coulis, or Profiterole with Pistachio Ice Cream and Hot Choc Sauce.

        I programmed the Navigation System to take me there without a problem. Just put in the Street without the street number, since it is newer then programs in the new car. It is off I-56 at Camino del Sol North. But the directions on their website will get you there and it is worth the effort with the reward on arrival! For us mid North County folks, it is a sign that we have arrived and have exceptional foods to experience. I have watched this valley build up from home at the top of Mira Mesa/Scripps Ranch East of I-15. It seemed further then it really is, and it is closer then driving into downtown or LaJolla without the traffic or crowds, lots of parking,once you get there. Cavaillon is located across the patio from the Fitness Studio. They paced their reservations, so that no parties had to wait for a table.
        I really enjoyed visiting with the staff from the MaitreD, to the waiters, who kept me company at the bar. Having waited tables in college, I learned how to run a restaurant, and how to enjoy excellent fine foods.

        Now, that I have been there, I plan on enjoying the exceptional cuisine and friendly atmosphere as often as possible. You should try it also, and let us know how much you enjoyed it. Don't be afraid to mention, 'Nutrition' wet your appetite, when you make a reservation!

        Bon Appetit!

        14701 Via Bettona, San Diego

        1 Reply
        1. re: nutrition

          That should have read North off I-56 on Camino del Sur!

        2. We went to Oceanaire and Island Prime this week. Reviews are forthcoming, but here are my thoughts based on your questions above.

          I would not return to Oceanaire on my own dime because of the service. We definitely feel we got "restaurant week service." This began when we were seated 20 minutes later than our reservation with no apology, follwed by our waiter disappearing completely after we placed our order, and ending with when we had to flag him down for both another bottle of wine and even later, ask a busser for coffee with dessert. He was also extraordinarily condescending. It's always a disappointment when you know you've had better service at a chain restaurant than somewhere that's supposed to be fine dining. Concerning price, while our main course was good, the app and dessert left me feeling a little cheated for the extra $10 they were tacking on to the normal $30 price. Gratuity was left to our discretion.

          On the other hand, Island Prime had superb service, good food and a killer view. All of the courses were enjoyable and I will absolutely be returning there on my own dime in the next few months. With an attentive yet unobtrusive server, they made us feel special which was very nice. I would have been totally fine paying $40, instead of the $30 we were charged. They also did not tack on an automatic gratuity.

          2 Replies
          1. re: YaYa

            Please clarify, Ya-Ya, your posts seems to say you were charged $40 at Oceanaire and $30 at Island Prime when both are listed differently on the SD Restaurant Week website - perhaps I'm reading that incorrectly?

            To the question of 20% service, we were charged that at Mille Fleurs last year and I had no problem with it. We had such a warm and friendly waitress who seemed genuinely interested in how our food was that and explained it so well that I probably should have added more. (I normally tip around 20% anyhow.)

            1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

              Yes, got it backwards as my latest reply states. Sorry for any confusion!

          2. P.S. CORRECTION: Island Prime was $40 and Oceanaire was $30. Based on that, I felt the price was appropriate for both restaurants. This is what happens when hubby pays the bills. :D