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Anthology, At Long Last

Tonight was my night for Anthology. I will say this up front and with no shame, I like this venue. The acoustics are marvelous, the decor sexy, seductive and sophisticated. The food was good to very good, nothing we ate was remotely average, mediocre or sub-par. Our waitress - Erin - was well trained, knowledgable and adorable to boot. Both my dining companion and I felt the food was a good value for what we got and plan on returning as often as possible. Both of us, however, did feel that the food needs to ratchet up a notch to equal the rest venue. And even though the food was good, the venue was better.

THE FOOD
My usual dining partner was out sick tonight so my friend Vince came along instead. He opted for the Maytag Blue souffles for his starter, I the deviled eggs. Vince hasn't really ever met a cheese he doesn't like, and this was no exception; so I only managed to snare 1 bite. Heavenly. His only comment was the portion needed to be bigger, and I think I agree. I ordered the deviled eggs mostly out of curiosity since they are often a badly done potluck standby. These were great. The whites were filled with shredded crab meat and then topped with a soft swirl of egg yolk and topped with crisp bacon. I really liked them, and would have liked them even better without the crab, for me it was extraneous.

Vince chose the green tea soba noodles with organic veggies, a tempura pepper and some slices of roast beef. I only managed to taste the tempura pepper (outstanding) and some of the soba noodles. The green tea was subtle but distinct enough to identify. It paired better than expected with the beef. I had the prime rib cap steak medium rare and it was about as tender and flavorful piece of meat as I've had in a long time. The crunchy fried shallots and buttermik mashed potatoes were also a hit with me. There was a small smear of corn puree on the plate that made me swoon. I could have eaten an entire bowl of that stuff.

For dessert we had the donuts filled with tangerine pastry cream and chocolate sabyonne and the made-to-order tapioca. Donuts are a food group for me so, of course, I liked them. Vince usually has a bigger sweet tooth than me, but he thought they were too sweet. The tapioca was, in a word, fabulous. It's rich, it's creamy, it's definitely NOT your grandmother's tapioca.

All totaled, the damage for 2 cocktails, 1 glass of wine, a cup of coffee, 2 apps, 2 entrees, desserts and tax was $128. The pre fixe dinner package is $65/person and I don't believe it includes alcohol. Ordering off the menu may be the way to go. There were at least 5 or 6 options in each category as opposed to the usual 3 choices on a pre fixe menu. Both Vince and I thought the price for what we had was fair and reasonable, neither of us felt ripped off, we both thought the quality of drinks and food warranted the price points. Portions are somewhat smaller than typical restaurant size. A big guy with a big appetite might be disappointed.

THE SERVICE

I can't say enough about our waitress Erin. She was terrific. We asked a lot of questions and she patiently answered all of them. She knew the menu well and was not hesitant at all about discussing the merits of the items we were considering. She was attentive without being over bearing or overly solicitous. There is plenty of floor staff, every one had a job to do, and from where we sat service appeared to be fairly well organized for a new restaurant. Whoever has been training the floor staff has done a very good job.

Food was served during the performance and the waitstaff was quiet and unobtrusive. There was little to no interruption or disruption. You could hear a few forks or knives clinking during the set, but there really wasn't much, it wasn't a distraction and it certainly wasn't a continual underlying background noise.

THE TICKETS

You do need a ticket to get in the door. You can buy SRO tickets, you will NOT be standing. Everyone gets a seat. So if you buy a $10 for the 3rd floor to listen to the house band, you will have a seat.

Overall I really liked Anthology and can see myself returning. The level of food coming out of this kitchen is really pretty good, but I strongly suspect it is capable of being a little more creative and kicking the wow factor up a notch or two.

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  1. Thanks, DD, for another great report. You touched all the bases, and as always, left me salivating! Thanks again.
    . . . jim

    1. I'm sick (literally) that I could not make dinner last night! From what I've read and now that you've confirmed it..I think it is so exciting that San Diego has a big city, luxe, supper club. We are getting there folks.
      My main concern was that the dinner service might interfere with the performances. Obviously lots of thought (and $$$$) was put into the acoustics and training the staff. Service is a huge scoring point for me, especially in this type of venue. Nice recap.
      I love the location. Little Italy is THE scene in SD. Lucky that we can avoid the Gas Lamp area and worthy tourists don't have to go clear across town when they visit. Did you mention the proximity of the trolley line, nice on warm summer nights when the area is crowded and parking a premium.
      The website also posts the menu in addition to the featured musicians. I must say their lineup if pretty sophisticated. I can't wait to get there.
      For those who have not yet perused it:

      www.anthologysd.com

      Thanks for a terrific post, it's already seducing me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: P Macias

        I took the trolley, but I was surprised that parking was not as bad as I had feared. Street parking was available and the streets around India and Ash were not busy.

        On the way down I got off at the Little Italy/County Center stop. Going home I got on at America Plaza. I think America Plaza or Santa Fe Depot are probably better trolley stop options than Little Italy.

      2. Yes - thanks for the report! I'm glad you said it sounds like a la carte is the way to go, I was wondering. I have heard good things elsewhere too, and am looking forward to checking it out!

        1. This has definitely piqued my interest! I'm assuming you just had first floor dining tickets? Did you feel seating would be a problem if you didn't have the "preferred" dinner package?

          Are the SRO seats still just beverages and no food?

          1. True Gayla, I haven't met a cheese I didn't like.well, maybe a Limburger. Anyway, I was willing to share, but you're just not quick enough. As Gayla told you I have a big sweet tooth but I did think the donuts were too sweet--cloyingly sweet. I loved the Tapioca though--you forgot to say it was topped with a scoop of Orange Icicle Ice cream and that it was perched on top of a warm gingersnap cookie. It looked like a floating island in the middle of the warm tapioca. The tapioca was the large pearl variety and it almost tasted as if it was cooked in creme anglaise--it was that rich and inviting. As you ate it the ice cream melts into the bath of warm tapioca giving it a orange flavor burnt sugar taste..Yum!

            1. I'm pretty much in agreement with Dining Diva on all the points :)

              I found myself at Anthology last Friday night with a bachelorette party and really really enjoyed the venue, food and the show.

              We went for the later of the two shows and had eaten beforehand, so we opted to just have drinks and desserts.

              A few points:

              1. I think the bartender on the main floor was better than the one up on the 3rd floor where they have you wait before you're seated.

              2. They have valet parking right next to the venue for $7 - if you're in a hurry or don't feel like trying to find your own parking, not a bad option.

              Food thoughts:

              We opted for the doughnuts also, and I fell on Vince's side. I found the orange-flavored filling overly sweet for me, but the pastry was good.

              We also had the sorbets, which I loved - they were very tiny scoops though - maybe 2 modest sized spoonfuls each. The finely diced fresh fruit surrounding each sorbet flavor was nice though.

              Also on the list were the cupcakes - definitely tasty. I particularly liked the one that had a cinnamon ice creamy topping. I'm a sucker for warm cake and ice cream.

              It was a bit pricey for the portions - about $12 for their specialty cocktails and $8 and up for very petite desserts. That being said, I'll definitely be back.

              Great lineup of artists - support live music!

              9 Replies
              1. re: Kuisine

                I'm planning to go for our anniversary this Friday...Looking at the website, the third floor has a 'bistro' menu. How is that different from the regular menu? Should I make reservations on the first floor for dinner, but not the prix fixe? After reading these reviews, I'm really looking forward to this place!
                Thanks!!

                1. re: sds

                  You can go to their web site http://www.anthologysd.com and look at their regular menu. The pre fixe and bistro menu (which I didn't know they offered) were not on line the last time I looked. IIRC, the pre-fixe offers 3 choices for apps, entree and dessert. If you look at the regular menu, you'll see it's quite a bit more extensive.

                  When I went, I had tickets for the main floor booth seating. I made my reservation the day before. I suspect that I could have actually made them that day. I will warn you, however, don't call on Monday, the restaurant is closed, and their automated phone system will try your patience.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    I thought you had to buy 4 tickets in order to get a booth? We're going tonight for the swing band. We're excited to see what this concept is like and we're looking forward to a good meal and a fun night!

                    1. re: leanneabe

                      I only bought 2 tickets and had no problem getting a booth.

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Huh... Ticketmaster wouldn't let me do just 2 tickets for a booth. I would totally pay more for a booth, but it's rare we can get other couples to go out on a weeknight.

                        I think we're going to aim to get there by 6pm - hopefully that's early enough to get a nice table for dinner.

                        1. re: leanneabe

                          Wow, I ordered my tickets on-line through Ticketmaster and had no problem at all. I also ordered them the first or second day they were available. Maybe they've changed the policy since then. Why don't you just call them and ask? Anthology also has a ticket office and sells tickets directly, though I think it has limited hours of operation.

                          I'd love to hear how the Royal Crown Revue is since this was on my short list of choices. I have a meeting tonight and couldn't go, nor could I go to their gig last night at City College that was sponosred by JAZZ88. Bummer

                          You should be fine with a 6 PM res. That's when we arrived and we had plenty of time for dinner before the meal. They pace their courses really well and do not rush you if you don't want to be rushed.

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            Dumb question here...but can you get dinner while the show is going on? We're debating on going to the 7;30 or 9:30...depending on what time we get out of work... If we go at 7pm, would that impede the dinner part?

                            Guess I need to just call these folks!
                            Thanks, looking forward to reporting back next week!

                            1. re: sds

                              The night I went the show started at 7:30 pm. There were still people coming in at 7 PM and they continued to serve throughout the set, though at a slower pace. The servers were pretty careful to be quiet and unobtrusive.

                              1. re: sds

                                When I made reservations, the girl I talked to said that they recommend coming in 1 to 1 1/2 hour before the show so you can do dinner before the show starts, but they do serve dinner throughout the show. She also said that they reserve the main floor dining for their dinner package guests, so if you just have first floor access tickets you may end up in the bar/lounge. If they aren't sold out on the dinner packages, though, they'll seat you on the main floor.

                                I was starting to worry when I couldn't find much information on their website, but I had left a message for them on their reservation line (press 4) and they were pretty prompt about calling me back and answering my questions.