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Carlsbad San Diego E.C.R. Grille

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Having enjoyed a thoroughly fabulous evening of dining and drinking wine from a chef's tasting menu at Savory (Encinitas) on Sunday, we decided to try the new hip place for burgers recently opened by the chef of Savory. We knew that El Camino Real Grille in Carlsbad (La Costa) was expensive, but my husband and I have always been willing to happily pay the price for good food. When we arrived for lunch, we chose two burgers to split and share - a pastrami burger and a blue cheese burger. With that, we ordered a homemade pickle and an order of sweet potato fries. With water to drink, the bill was about $23. I didn't mind ordering at the counter, and the freshly prepared food came in a timely manner. I did need to get up and request plastic ware from the counter; for some reason, only my husband was given a fork and knife. I was happy to read at the table about their commitment to using "green" products and compostable cups. I am willing to pay extra to help the environment.

The burgers were a perfectly-cooked medium with pink in the middle. The pastrami was very fatty and sliced too thick to tear while one bites into the burger. The pickle was fresh and crunchy, though the flavor was not to my liking. The blue cheese burger was a pleasant surprise of having the cheese blended with the meat, and not placed on top as typically done. My biggest complaint, and the reason that I will not go there again was the fries. They are best described as a soft, greasy, inedible greasy pile of sweet potato pieces swimming in grease (Did I say greasy?). Though other clients were asked during the course of their meal, how they were enjoying it, we were not. Had we been, I would of gladly told them of the pile of greasy fries sitting next to me. Alas, they did not, so I am left to vent to the readers of this board. I believe that chefs are entitled to screw up now and then, but there was NO EXCUSE for this pile to have left the cook (chef?) and been given to a customer. After we left, my husband told me that he saw another batch at someone else's table, and they looked fine. Oh well, unlucky me. However, unlucky El Camino Real Grille, because I'll let my wallet do my talking and not return.

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  1. Hmmm, I have wanted to try ECRG for a while, and I wondered how the concept would go over up here in the north. I did notice that I got a coupon in the mail. I know it is pricey, but I thought good food would be worth it. But I am with you, poorly cooked fries are a turn off. to be fair I have never had great sweet potato, They have always seemed kinda soggy to me, maybe I have always encountered lousy fry cooks. I guess I will have to stick with (don't kill me) Chili's down the street, at least they can fry potatoes.

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      1. The sweetie and I tried ECR Grille a few weeks ago.

        We had the buy one burger get one burger coupon.

        I liked it. Our burgers were cooked perfectly to order - medium rare (which I am finding is a harder and harder thing to achieve these days). The sauces are all house made as are all of the condiments (and good, some really good). A lot of the menu is a la carte (some condiments and toppings included/some cost extra). It definitely is the gourmet approach to burgers and fries.

        The sodas are house made as well

        We did not have the sweet potato fires. We had the regular fries - which were stellar, so good we had to order a second batch.

        A bit pricey for burgers and fries but with the coupon we did not feel the cost. Also they do have some really great specials/deals.

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          1. The time to vent is when you're poorly served, especially by an restaurant owner you have admired and trusted (the chef of Savory). And particularly when you were fed well in almost every other way! Handmade food is not mechanized perfection. A new line cook might mess up while the sous chef is looking the other way. A distracted server may deliver a less-than-perfect dish. But a good restaurant always appreciates the discerning diner who cares enough to speak up. Complain! Return substandard wine or food! Our SD restaurants will only improve! It is our job, as diners, citizens, and capitalistic tools, to demand the best, especially when we've paid for it.