HOME > Chowhound > California >


Carlsbad San Diego E.C.R. Grille

  • a

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

    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.

      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.

        1. Went to ECR. The burger was good, but the fries were not acceptable. We ordered the regular potato fries and all of them were not more than 1/2 inch long. They weren't that tasty either. We should have sent them back, but since we ate a few more than we should just to try out the sauces, we were too embarrassed to send them back. The cook shouldn't have sent out fries of this quality.

          1. I don't think any of the reviews really matter. The location is pretty much the kiss of death for most restaurants. I would expect it to be gone by the end of 2009.

            1. Boy, few things are worse than greasy fries. Gotta agree with you on that one. But why on earth didn't you take the fries back up to the counter when you realized that they weren't satisfactory, particularly since your burgers seemed to have been pretty good? How well they handled your complaint would have spoken volumes about the their service training, committement to the customer and business philosphy. Most operators really do appreciate the feed back even when it's negative.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DiningDiva

                Yeah, I should have sent the fries back, but seeing that it took about half an hour to get them and we were so hungry, and sharing one order of fries, we just ate too many. We were trying all the sauces which weren't very good. The best sauce was their ketchup. By the time we finally agreed that the fries and the sauces were not good, it just seemed poor form to send them back at that point.

              2. We went several months ago and had awesome burgers, good homemade soda and really meh fries. My thought was that they were only fried once - oily and droopy and sort of brown.
                We tried to go back tonight and they were closed - the over head sign was gone and there was a small sign on the door that said they were closed for renovations...

                10 Replies
                1. re: puggama

                  "the over head sign was gone and there was a small sign on the door that said they were closed for renovations"

                  Or, from The Old Man Sep 08, 2008--
                  I don't think any of the reviews really matter. The location is pretty much the kiss of death for most restaurants. I would expect it to be gone by the end of 2009."

                  Maybe I was off by a year--their website is offline.

                  1. re: The Old Man

                    Old man, any other predictions for the North County kiss of death locations?

                    1. re: Pablo

                      As mention Brent's. I think that the new location for Beach Grass Cafe will fail (the one across from Brent's). These, and the old Filippi/Hershel's, are in the line of death. I think that the Daphne's in the Albertson center on ECR will go. Of course Indigo Joe's on ECR near Encinitas Blvd will be gone, try to think of all the restaurants that have failed there.

                      OT, I would expect 200 Blockbusters to close in 2009.

                      1. re: The Old Man

                        Indigo joes has been gone for about a year. It is now the bullpen, which will probably be gone in a year or so.

                        1. re: littlestevie

                          Can't keep up with the deaths in that spot. Remember when it was a steak place?

                            1. re: littlestevie

                              I recall the Bullpen used to be a Sizzler.

                  2. re: puggama

                    Yeah it looks like it is a goner. The ECR Grille link from the Savory website is now gone, and I can't pull up the ECR webpage. Looking at the gang buster business that the Broken Yolk is doing across the street since they opened up, I think that they put the final nail in the coffin of ECR. It may of been too high end of a concept for Encinitas, and the street signage was lousy. Boston's which took over thge Red Robin space seems very busy and they just serve standard applebees/chilis fare, so go figure.

                    1. re: littlestevie

                      How is that Broken Yolk? Have you been? I ate at their pb location and did not love it, but it was the day after my kitty died, so I was not my normal food lovin' self.

                      Not surprised ECR Grille is over. It was pricey for burgers and fries.

                      1. re: Enorah

                        They be fast and efficient and move lots of people thru. We went on a Sun. at about 8:30, it was a good 30 minute wait at that point. The food was fine, I am not sure I would wait that long or longer again, I guess I want my Sundays a little less hectic. The food is better IMHO than Pancake House which gets packed as well. My s.o. has gone a couple times during the week and it was not as crazy.