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San Diego Restaurant Week 2008

www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com

This year we get SDRW twice! The problem I'm running into is that I don't feel intrigued by many of the menus (and some of the restaurants we enjoyed last year aren't on the list). On top of that, while I'd be willing to pay $30 for most of the menus, the restaurants with $40 menus aren't jumping out at me. I know, $40 for a 3-course meal is a bargain, but not so much if the desserts are ordinary (choc. lava cake, sorbets, fruit tarts) and the appetizers aren't very interesting.

So, have you given any thought to SDRW yet? Where do you think you'll be making reservations?

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  1. Interesting - I just browsed some of the menus and think some of them actually look better than last year. George's is offering five or six choices for the first two courses, and Bertrand at Mr. A's is offering more than usual as well. It looks like Market and Blanca are also offering some good stuff.

    Last year we went to 1500 Ocean, which was great, and to AR Valentien, which was not so great. I think we might try Blanca and go back to 1500 Ocean if we get a chance. Which ones were you looking at that were disappointing?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Alice Q

      Maybe I'm just remembering the great meals we've had in the last couple of years and I'm sad that those dishes aren't on any menus. We went to Baleen last year and I had a fabulous osso bucco on chocolate risotto. The year we went to Island Prime, there was a goat cheese souffle, steak tartare, rack of lamb, and a really nice chocolate trio dessert.

      I guess if I look more closely at the menu items, some items would stick out, but it just seems like an awful lot of beet salads, duck confit/roast duck, and chocolate cakes. Granted, I haven't looked at ALL the menus... hopefully this thread will spotlight some of the good ones.

      Despite the noise, we had a good meal at Chive, too, but they aren't on the list this round.

      I would like to try Market, and I suppose now's a good time to finally get to 1500 Ocean. It does certainly seem like the decent meals are edging into the $40 range, which I understand given the rise in costs of everything, but it was so fun to get a fancy meal for $30!

      1. re: leanneabe

        Ah - I like duck confit, so you'll get no complaints from me there! :-) I have not tried Baleen, and I did like that chocolate trio at Island Prime, though I didn't go there on restaurant week. I've also been to Chive and had a good meal, but that was before the chef change. I used to love those coffee braised short ribs they had.

        I will say one thing - the $40. price tag is not necessarily such a deal if you drink. We've found ourselves staring down the barrel of $200. per couple with tax and tip - after adding in a round or two of $10. cocktails and two $50. bottles of wine. If the place isn't putting their best food forward, it can be awfully disappointing.

        1. re: Alice Q

          I believe CHIVE has been added to the list. The food is very different since the chef change a few years ago, but I don't think one would be disappointed. I dined there about 2 months ago with some colleagues from out of town. We were all very impressed. Fresh food with great flavors and a variety of options to meet even the most finicky eater's requests.

          1. re: sdrebel

            Interesting... it looks like the list of restaurants has gotten quite a bit longer!

        2. re: leanneabe

          I finally remembered my password here - kidding sorta, but I'm always pleasantly surprised when I get it right on the first or second try.

          Anyhow, another thumbs up to 1500 Ocean - ate there for a recent splurge meal and at least saw some of the items on the menu for RW. The angus beef culotte and chocolate chipotle cake are great!

          I see the Boathouse is on the $40 list - yeesh. I'm thinking for sure Arterra, I thought maybe Blanca but then saw some not great things here, I'd save George's for the summer RW because of the view. I think Bertrand might be a little "too" for me. Maybe Laurel.

          Just based on reputation Tapenade and/or Nine-Ten, but I really haven't reviewed menus too closely. I certainly think it's time to start grabbing reservations. I really liked Oceanaire last year - probably not that outstanding of a bargain at $40 though.

          1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

            I've been to the boathouse, it's OK but, even if they were on RW of $30. I wouldn't go.

            1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

              I've ate at both Tapenade and Nine-Ten during restaurant week. The food at Tapenade was fantastic, our server was snotty. This was during RWs first year and it was pretty clear that our waiter felt RW was below the restaurant and we were riff-raff. The food at Nine-Ten was very good too, the service was not; they were slammed and having a hard time coping.

        3. Great minds, etc. etc.

          I was literally on the website 5 minutes ago to double-check the dates. I already have a list going, but it's kind of short. Some of the menus didn't appeal, so I know how you feel. I was a little disappointed in Nine-Ten, JRDN, and Avenue 5's menus (I was looking for restaurants I had already wanted to try). Avenue 5's seemed boring to me.

          I'm thinking Market, Arterra, and Cavillon.

          Is it just me, or are most of the restaurants on the $30 list not appealing? The only resto on that list I'd consider is Kensington Grill. It's too bad, because $30 can be an absolute steal for well-prepared food, regardless of the menu.

          1 Reply
          1. re: geekyfoodie

            You have a good list with the $40 restaurants.

            As far as $30 menus, maybe give La Bastide in Scripps Ranch a try - though depending on exactly the menu for RW you can sometimes get by there for about $30 a person anyhow - though they do have some entrees around mid-20's normally.

            Other mildly interesting $30 picks to me might be Croce's or Blue Point Coastal.

          2. We kind of jumped the gun and made reservations based on repuation more than menu. We're doing Tapenade, Jack's and Arterra.

            Market had a great meal last year, as did Jack's and Nine-Ten. Other serious contenders for this year included Cavaillon.

            1. We already have reservations at 1500 Ocean. It was the only menu that looked really interesting to us. We ate there last year for RW and it was divine. Plus, $40 per person is a steal for that place.

              I agree that most of the menus this year look similar and pretty unexciting. I think we are going to also hit Americana in Del Mar. Anyone been there yet?

              3 Replies
              1. re: LaurenZ

                I have eaten breakfast/lunch at Americana.

                I really liked it, yummy food, nice atmosphere, outside seating.

                We had out cat with us, in her carrier, when we ate there, as we were between homes and staying at a motel (eeek!).

                For that reason alone, that I could eat there with my cat, was one that will have me going back.

                1. re: LaurenZ

                  We've been to Americana for dinner and at $30/person, I'm not sure it's that great of a bargain b/c you'll come close to that without RW. Breakfast is a lot better than dinner. Dinner stuff tended to be hit and miss.

                  1. re: LaurenZ

                    We ate there last week. I thought the steak and pomme frites were just about as good as Flemmings.. and I think it was only 24.00.. The food we have found has always been good. Not over the top creative..like Market..but very good. Not sure if I would go for restaurant week though..there seem to be better deals..

                  2. thanks for the heads up. We hit up 4 restaurants last year, was thrilled with all but one. Unfortunately we had a pretty bad experience at Baleen. The food was overcooked, undercooked, missing, bland, and that was with 4 people! The service was almost reprehensible (including rude at one point) and we weren't even complainers. The UT had a comment section for the Restaurant Week and there were numerous negative comments about the Baleen experience, so I wanted to offer a counter-point.

                    Looking forward to trying a few new places this year!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MrKrispy

                      Nice repoorts AQ and MrKrispy, I looked at a few menus and they look very interesting. I also noticed that some establishments were up-charging for some entrees, up to $10. So the $40. is now $50. I wish they would think past RW and look for repeat business. I'm sure I'll order wine, coffee etc. with the meal, don't they get it?

                      1. re: cstr

                        I am noticing that a lot of the menus are repeats from last year. The $10 extra for steak, etc... really bugs me. Either add a fourth entree or just don't put it on the menu. We skipped Rainwater's because of that, even though I had always wanted to try it.