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Dec 6, 2007 07:22 AM

Avenue 5 in Bankers' Hill - San Diego

What are people's thoughts on this place? After reading Naomi Wise's relatively favorable review in the Reader, I dropped by for lunch the other day, and I was not impressed. They have trimmed and sort of dumbed down the dinner menu, getting rid of some of the more interesting entrees like duck breast and pork belly - now they have salmon, chicken, lamb, steak, etc. The interior is bland and boring, and the service was really mediocre. Even the iced tea was so bad that I swapped it out for a diet coke.

I ordered a burger from the lunch menu, and it was just like something you would get at a coffee shop - stale bun, pre-formed patty, yellow mustard and some under-pickled onions. The side salad had slimy lettuce in it. The fries were excellent, but they were drizzled with truffle oil which I wasn't crazy about. They also cost $3.00 extra, bringing the whole thing up to $15.00 for burger, fries and diet coke.

The website talks about "market driven cuisine" and the review mentioned artisanal ingredients, etc. but I certainly wasn't served any. Anybody else have a different experience?

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  1. I went in for lunch twice very shortly after it opened and enjoyed the food, service and wine on both visits. The interior may not reflect an expenditure of a lot of capital but it ain't a dump either. Your notes though suggest that they were not received well and perhaps are having some cash flow issues. If they weren't moving the duck and pork belly it would be hard for them to keep those on the menu.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ibstatguy

      Very good insight. Slimy lettuce might be an indicator that they aren't moving much produce or aren't rotating what they've got.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        Or the exterior of the lettuce froze and attention to detail by kitchen staff is lacking...

        1. re: Cathy

          Yeah, there's at least 5 or 6 other reasons for slimy lettuce; it should never make it onto the diner's plate. A restaurant that wants to be taken seriously (and charge serious prices) has to have control in the ktichen. Slimy lettuce on the plate somehow misses the mark.

      2. We were there for lunch twice, a week ago and two weeks ago. The grilled chicken sandwiches were very good, as was the pasta of the day, while the salmon was unexciting but competent. Service and attention were super the first time and definitely okay the second time. And, we liked the minimalist interior.

        1. Been there a few times now. Good bar, good place for a glass of wine and an appetizer or three. Love those truffle oil fries, they really do it for me.

          I didn't get any of the 'market driven cuisine' either. It's just buzzwords. 'Marketing driven cuisine' is more like it. :) Shoot, pretty soon McDonalds will be advertising their market-driven Big Mac toppings.

          I'd say if you're looking for a fine dining experience with bottles of wine and $25-$35 mains, you'll wish you went to Laurel. Or Tapenade. Or better yet, Market.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jonoropeza

            One of my pet peaves, 'market price'. Ever heard of dollar cost averaging?? maybe you'll get the difference on the wine, dessert or coffee. It's bad enough we have to deal with gas prices that way. Thanks for the advice, your comments are pretty clear, don't eat dinner there.

            1. re: treb

              It's not about "Market Price" though I find that annoying too - it's about the fact that they advertise that their menu is "market driven" - indicating that they use market fresh ingredients - but I didn't actually see that in evidence in the restaurant. Re: fine dining choices - 910, Market or Tapenade are better bets it would seem. 1500 Ocean and Molly's are also up there, and sometimes overlooked I think.

          2. We had dinner there recently and were quite impressed by the quality and preparation of the food. The service was ok and perhaps even too friendly. It is defintiely worth a second visit. I tend to not judge a restaurant by it's lunch menu because I found most restaurants lacking good lunch, e.g. 9-10, Tapenade etc. (Only really positive exception was Arterra).

            1. 3 of us had a very good lunch today even though the place was packed.