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Also disappointed in The Linkery

h
howstheservice May 28, 2008 01:16 PM

Clueless hostess, small portions, loud dining room, $4 for 8 oz of Dr. Pepper? and an owner who's attitude was basically, Go somewhere else!
OK I get it, you want to offer, good quality locally grown and raised food. Would it kill you to put some more potatoes on the side of a dish you're charging $19.50? Why would you offer a soft drink that is only available from Texas and charge more for it than most places charge for a pint of beer? and when a paying customer raises some valid points why would you choose to ignore all of them and say that there are a lot of other restaurants out there, you should be able to find one that makes you happy?
I wanted to like this neighborhood joint, but never again!

As a neighbor, I was really excited to try the new location. I admit, I had
never been to the original location although I had intended to many times, but
never made it.

As a newbie, I was not sure what to expect. When we arrived Friday evening, they
looked pretty busy, but we were able to get a parking spot right in front of the
door and we saw that there were at least two empty tables in the dining room.
When we came in, we were told there would be a wait, and asked to give our name.

After about 40 minutes a hostess came and told
us there was a bar table available if we wanted to sit there or it should be
just a few minutes for a regular height table. My partner had spinal surgery
just over a year ago and still has some nerve damage so we opted to wait for the
regular height table.

The hostess moved on to the next name on the wait list and as she was taking
them to the bar height table , they asked if they could have the open, regular
height table that had been empty since we arrived and she said yes! We couldn't
have had that table? Any other number of people waiting before us couldn't have
had that table? Poor customer relations! I don't care how good your food is, if
you treat people that poorly, it gets noticed.

After about 20 more minutes we were lead to a table on the far side of the
dining room, two small tables pushed together for a four topper. When the
waitress finally came by, she informed us of all the things you had already run
out of, namely three of the offered sausages and the fish. Since what I was most
interested in was trying two of the missing sausages, it would have been nice to
know this before waiting that long for a table. All you had to do was post it on
the window where you were writing down names for seating--"Sorry, but we have
run out of x, y, and z" Easy enough, I could then decide if I wanted to come
back another day or try something different.

I opted for the choucroute with two links and my partner ordered the pork chop.
We appreciate good food and enjoy eating out often. The presentation of both
these plates was lackluster at best. The sauerkraut was flattened out, and kind
of camouflaged by the melted cheese and was not too appealing in appearance. My
partner's pork chop was unrecognizable as a pork chop. It was explained to us
that the meat had a lot of fat and one should expect to have each bite be half
fat and half meat, but she did not explain what to do about all the
gristle/connective tissue! The small portion of potatoes was good flavored but
seemed a little skimpy for a $19.50 dish.

Speaking of price, I can't let pass the cost of a soft drink--$4 for 8 oz of Dr.
Pepper, that didn't even fill the glass?! Which came without ice, I might add. I
almost never drink alcohol when out as I am the driver, so I usually get a soft
drink. I have never been charged that much for a single soft drink, especially
in a place that likes to characterize itself as a neighborhood restaurant. You
make a big deal that all your meat and produce is locally grown, yet you buy
your Dr. Pepper from a lone bottling plant in Texas?! Does that make sense? To
add insult to injury, the second one also cost $4 for a grand total of $8 for 16
oz of soda-- nice mark up! Makes me wonder how little the pork chop cost you if
you were charging that kind of mark up on soda! You have a bar, you have the
system, get some tanks and have soda on tap and don't charge an arm and a leg
and offer gratis refills. No one will think any less of you.

Just before our food came, the hostess came by and took one of the tables we
were sitting at to make a big table for a larger group, rather than take the
empty table across the aisle from us!? Guess you didn't want to miss the
opportunity to fill that table as well, even though it was close to 10pm and
that table had sat empty for 10 minutes already. For whatever reason she thought
it was better to make us uncomfortable rather than take that other table.

The dining room is very loud as there are no soft surfaces to absorb the sound,
so we had to listen to our next door table complain about how little meat there
was on their $88 goat! Maybe some cloth baffles in the air, some art on the
walls, perhaps some curtains, etc. would help to dampen the noise problem.

Since I work as a retail consultant, I realize I have high expectations for
service and atmosphere, but I also know how easy it is to get the details right
and provide a satisfactory experience.

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  1. foodiechick RE: howstheservice May 28, 2008 01:43 PM

    Sorry to hear that you had a disappointing experience. Since you mention that you work as a retail consultant, surely you must realize the degree of difficulty in operating with all engines running smoothly on opening day. That is precisely when you went to the Linkery, the very first night they had dinner service in their new location. They are still building the new space (seating booths, noise abatement) while they try to serve the community of loyal customers that they have built. I know that at the old place they had a handout and a posted letter "If you are new to the Linkery" explaining their seating policy. I'm sure things were more hectic than usual because of the mobs of people eagerly waiting to dine at the new locale, but perhaps things could have been facilitated a little more effeciently had you explained your partner's medical condition. Also, as explaination in the "new to Linkery" note, this is a non tipping restaurant. Everything is marked up accordingly so that the servers and entire staff can make a decent living, anything left in the way of gratuities is donated to charity on a monthly basis. The owner is one of the most dedicated entrepreneurs that I have ever run across - dedicated to service on every level...from service to quality of food, from the environment to charity. I'm sure that if indeed it was the owner that you spoke to, his demeanor may have had something to do with the frustration of opening night in a partially completed space, and quite possibly your misunderstanding of the concept and less-than-pleasant and demanding attitude.

    By the way, Dr. Pepper is not sold solely in Texas. There is such a thing as distributors in Californina.

    9 Replies
    1. re: foodiechick
      t
      The Old Man RE: foodiechick May 28, 2008 02:44 PM

      What is their "seating policy"? It seems to be wait, wait offer a bad seat while a good seat is open then take a later customer to the good table.

      I think that one should not go to a restaurant for the within the first month of opening. That said $4 for a soda--not even a can's worth? I think you may pay less than that even at a Strip Restaurant. Of course the tip is included.

      1. re: The Old Man
        m
        MrKrispy RE: The Old Man May 28, 2008 03:00 PM

        yeah I am going to give them a couple more weeks before I check out the new location.

        1. re: The Old Man
          e
          Ewilensky RE: The Old Man May 28, 2008 03:25 PM

          Seating Policy from the website:

          ***

          SEATING

          We seat on a first come basis, which means we don't take reservations. We've got a pretty small restaurant, and sometimes it fills up.

          If you’re happiest when you can surely sit right away, we encourage you to join us early in the evening (between 5 and 6:30 seems best). Otherwise come on in and if there’s a wait for a table, enjoy a drink or two at the bar.

          Also, we're open until 11pm every night, and we welcome guests who join us toward the end of the evening.

          Whenever you come to visit us, we'll take care of you the best we can.

          ***

          I'm a grumpy ol' turd so I've only been to the Linkey around 5:30 PM for a light meal and have never had a problem. ;-)

          I'll give the new spot a few more weeks before giving it a try.

          That said, I can see how someone who is not familiar with what The Linkery has to offer and stands for can feel it is overpriced. As a neighborhood place (and it is a neighborhood place for me) it is the most expensive of my selections and because of that it does not get frequented as much as it should by my wife and I. And that's just simple economics.

          But what they do is impressive and they should be applauded.

        2. re: foodiechick
          h
          howstheservice RE: foodiechick May 28, 2008 03:23 PM

          I know that opening a new venture is not a smooth operation-- none of that explains why 2 tables sat empty for 45 minutes and then all someone else had to do was ask and they got it ahead of us. Nor does it explain why the owner, Jay, failed to apologize for any of the snafus when I wrote to him two days later, choosing instead to be condescending and suggest I could be happier at other restaurants. All I got was a classic "I'm sorry you feel that way" apology. No mention of 'that shouldn't have happened' or 'I'll ask why that happened' Just a terse 'sorry you didn't enjoy it.'
          Is there some sort of seating policy for The Linkery that is so vastly different it needs to be explained? First come first served is what their website says, I was kind of expecting that. We didn't need to explain a medical condition, she asked if we'd like that table, we declined and she said it would just be a few minutes until another table became available and then proceeded to seat the next party at the table that had sat empty the whole time we were all waiting.
          I also understand the no-tipping policy, it is added to the food price after wards and does not have anything to do with the cost versus perceived value of the food. I didn't complain about the no tipping policy so I'm not sure why you bring it up.
          I know there are Dr. Pepper distributors, but they choose to offer only Dublin Dr. Pepper which is bottled in one plant in Texas and then trucked to its destinations, hence my rant about offering fountain sodas. Technically it is not available any where else there is a Dr. Pepper distributorship, so they are probably violating the Dr. Pepper distribution agreement by re-selling it in California.
          You missed my whole point, I was disappointed, I really wanted to like this place. It's in my neighborhood, I appreciate what they say they are trying to do. I appreciate food, locally grown, prepared well, but I had a really bad experience at this place and the owner just made it worse by being flip and not taking any responsibility.

          1. re: howstheservice
            m
            MrKrispy RE: howstheservice May 28, 2008 04:07 PM

            "I know that opening a new venture is not a smooth operation-- none of that explains why 2 tables sat empty for 45 minutes and then all someone else had to do was ask and they got it ahead of us."

            well that sounds to me like the definition of things not going smoothly!

            I think you are missing the whole philosophy of the Linkery. Their food isn't necessarily local, it is intended to be products that are from small artisan producers, not mass market / factory products. I won't go in to details here of what consequences that has (for more info google Slow Food). Pepsi, Twinkies, and Foster Farms chickens don't exactly fit in to that philosophy, hence why soft drinks are sort of limited.

            Secondly, if you were aware that the Dr. Pepper is a unique item that is shipped from Texas, why wouldn't you expect to pay significantly more? I am sure the Linkery isn't buying pallets of them, shipping isn't exactly cheap, and you have the tip included in it as well.

            I am not apologizing for how you were dealt with, but trying to offer a reason of why things may have happened that way.

            That being said,

            1. re: MrKrispy
              h
              howstheservice RE: MrKrispy May 28, 2008 04:33 PM

              I wasn't told it was Dr. Pepper from Texas. I asked what soft drinks they had and she said Dr. Pepper, Mexican Coca Cola and a third I had never heard of. I don't believe they were on the menu, they might have been, either way I never expected a soda to cost me $4 for 8oz. I didn't know it was from Texas until I did a Google search on Dublin Dr.Pepper after the evening was over, to see why it might have cost so much.

              From their site-- We use mostly local and regional produce, because it tastes best and is real.
              How about offering Hansen's--local to Corona CA, all natural? I don't think of any soda as being artisanal, so I don't think anyone will think any less of them by offering fountain sodas. I don't drink, so cask beer holds no fascination for me. The tip was on top of the $4 for the soda.

              1. re: howstheservice
                d
                DougOLis RE: howstheservice May 28, 2008 10:59 PM

                I'm pretty sure the sodas are on the menu and also that it does spell out what exactly it is. Is it expensive? Yeah, but I guess them's the breaks. The beer and wine prices are pretty reasonable though.

                Opening night probably wasn't the greatest time to first visit a new restaurant because they were bound to have kinks. I know that they were training several new staff too and it looked like they had the veterans sitting back more (at least on Saturday). Hopefully you'll give them another chance once they have time to settle in; the Grand Opening is supposed to be sometime in July.

            2. re: howstheservice
              foodiechick RE: howstheservice May 28, 2008 11:57 PM

              Hey, my bad on the Dr. Pepper issue. I didn't realize the special circumstance of their origin. But then again, somewhat shadowing what dining diva said - that is extra shipping (and in my opinion, effort, for a specialty item), $4 may seem high but I can understand a higher mark up.

              The reason that I brought up the no-tipping policy is because you were raising price point issues. The no tip policy is factored into the price points, so I believe it is a valid point if you are arguing those. No, the Linkery is not the cheapest straw in the stack, but all "neighborhood" restaurants are not necessarily wallet friendly - especially in these times (I was in a "neighborhood" restaurant tonight - no "destination status", believe me - who serves similarly sourced food and whose prices for smaller portions than the Linkery's were a good $3-$10 more per item). I believe, in most cases, this restaurant is paying more for it's products because of the nature of their origin. They are honest in their representation of what their product goals are. I would rather have an establishment charge honest prices to meet their bottom line (and in this economy I appreciate the honesty - better to raise the airfares by $15 than charge $15 for first checked bag).

              The reason I brought up mentioning the medical condition is that sometimes I find it necessary. We are not talking about a 5-star, fine-dining restaurant here with a tenured maitre'd. Hostesses are not always the greatest assest in the front of the house...but if there is a special need I find nothing wrong with a brief bit of info so they at least have the opportunity to try to accommodate, rather than wait for them to "get it". I have often been frustrated with seating and usually have luck with asking for a specific table directly with an explaination if warranted - it was in fact a special need.

              Obviously, nobody but the owner can address your issues with the food quality itself, but I think the fact that he personally responded to your letter sent a couple of days later is admirable. I'm sorry that he did not offer more of an answer to your complaints, but you did say he offered a general apology. I think that given the fact they are in the middle of this opening that is something...and something you might not receive in such a timely fashion from many other proprietors given the stressful circumstances.

              You have valid points to criticize, I just think that given you had never tried the restaurant before and chose to be quite this critical based on an opening night is a little unfair. Have I ever had uneven service there- sure. Have I been less than thrilled with a dish that didn't work for me - yes. But there is a reason that they have such a loyal following, and I only hope you take in mind all of the mitigating factors involved with your first visit and give them another chance...perhaps in the middle of the week...early - before they run out of two of the sausages.

            3. re: foodiechick
              leanneabe RE: foodiechick Jun 3, 2008 10:55 AM

              Actually, the food prices aren't marked up to accommodate the non-tipping policy. An 18% table service charge is added to the bill. Anything over that is considered a "tip" and is collected for the month's charity organization.

              This has been quite an invigoration thread. I do like the poster who noted that sometimes you come across dishes that aren't great, and other times you have fabulous meals. We're more in line with Josh - we like The Linkery and understand why certain things are expensive, but we just can't afford to eat there as often as we'd like. Plus, it takes motivation for us to drive down to North Park for dinner. We're definitely going to check out the new space, but most likely after things have settled down.

            4. jmtreg RE: howstheservice May 28, 2008 04:46 PM

              They just moved, which probably caused some of the problems with the seating. The $4 Dr. Pepper is just the Linkery being the Linkery. It's the Whole Foods of the SD Restaurant scene and so some of the prices are pretty crazy. Still, the focus is on serving sustainable and artisan products.

              As far as the noise, and the reaction of the owner, remember that you attended the "soft" opening of the restaurant. He was swamped. . .and they're doing something about the noise, per the website.

              4 Replies
              1. re: jmtreg
                DiningDiva RE: jmtreg May 28, 2008 05:38 PM

                I kind of have to agree with the OP about the $4 for 8 oz of soda, that is pretty steep even for a cane sugar product. BUT...I also agree with you prices are pretty crazy, but that's happening everywhere these days not just The Linkery. Food cost, trucking costs and local distribution costs are absolutely through the roof right now.

                Unfortunately, I suspect we're going to see a lot of "pretty crazy" pricing all over town by the end of the summer. And, unless we do see some of these pretty crazy prices and are willing to pay them, I wonder how many restaurants are going to go under because they couldn't - or wouldn't - price their products where they needed to be to cover cost/expenses, or we customers wouldn't - or couldn't - pay those prices. I think we're about to see the rubber hit the road this summer and a shake out in the local restaurant industry. But, wow, $4 for a small serving of Dr. Pepper and no ice? Even I'm scratching my head over that one. Pass the beer...

                1. re: DiningDiva
                  m
                  MrKrispy RE: DiningDiva May 29, 2008 10:22 AM

                  Their cask beer prices are about double what other local Beer bars charge, but their draft prices are similar. I have never been able to figure out their pricing logic, so I guess the Dr. Pepper would fit that logic.

                2. re: jmtreg
                  r
                  royaljester RE: jmtreg Jun 10, 2010 03:01 PM

                  I shop at Whole Foods twice a week and still find $4 for Dr. Pepper puzzling. Maybe if they served it with ice I'd understand. No refills? Yeah..

                  I like supporting local sources and even artisian sources. But that's a completely different concept than supporting an inefficient or highly marked up variation on sugared water. There is no such thing as artisian Dr. Pepper. It's pretentious.

                  1. re: royaljester
                    honkman RE: royaljester Jun 10, 2010 03:39 PM

                    Dr. Pepper without HFCS is more expensive than regular ones, similar with Coke. And in other restaurants which serve Coke with real sugar and no HFCS you also never get a refill.

                3. c
                  cookieshoes RE: howstheservice May 30, 2008 09:18 AM

                  I can't speak for the new location, but I can speak for the restaurant as a whole back when it was at its old location. Overrated. And unreasonably expensive.

                  The beer, the food...I get it. It's high quality, it's organic where possible. But it's still gouging. Sure, the food was fine. But not good enough for those prices. Same goes for the cask and tap beer prices. Ridiculous. I drink regularly at O'Briens and get beer in growlers from the local breweries. So I know there is no justification for that kind of rip off. Cask or not. Especially since cask beer is not the rarity that restauranteurs are trying so hard to make it seem it is. San Diego is swimming in cask beer.

                  But that's par for the course with the recent restaurant "renaissance" in SD over the past few years. Linkery, Zensei, Neighborhood....if we charge a ton then that makes us a nice restaurant, right? It's nightclub mentality. But the point is, if the food was incredible, then it might be justified. Yet, it never is. In my opinion, it's not a good thing when your restaurant is known more for being expensive than for having good food.

                  22 Replies
                  1. re: cookieshoes
                    Josh RE: cookieshoes May 30, 2008 09:42 AM

                    Just curious why you include Neighborhood in that list. I find the prices there to be extremely reasonable.

                    1. re: cookieshoes
                      Alice Q RE: cookieshoes May 30, 2008 10:00 AM

                      None of the places you mention adhere to the "nightclub mentality" - and they don't "charge a ton." The Linkery's food is not "organic when possible" - it's made by small producers who have a personal investment in their product - as opposed to commodity producers. If that isn't important to you, then the place might just not be for you, as Jay told the original poster. The food prices are no higher than other bistro style restaurants in town, and compare very favorably with restaurants in other cities. Their tap beer prices are not out of line at all - particularly considering that they include service - at $5.50 for a 15 oz pour. If you tip a buck a drink or so anywhere else, you're paying about the same amount. The cask ales are more, but I assume that's because it's expensive and labor intensive - and there is probably some waste involved since it's more perishable.

                      If you don't appreciate the unique local restaurants in your community and don't want to pay to keep them around, there are plenty of chains and fast food joints that will be happy to take your money. Just do me a favor please - don't come on here later and cry about how there's nothing good to eat in this town!

                      1. re: Alice Q
                        Josh RE: Alice Q May 30, 2008 11:01 AM

                        Well said.

                        1. re: Alice Q
                          c
                          cookieshoes RE: Alice Q May 30, 2008 11:34 AM

                          Who said anything about not appreciating the unique local restaurants in my community? What, I don't like the Linkery therefore I don't have any taste in restaurants, and I'd rather eat fast food? Apparently, the Linkery is the finest restaurant ever created, and to not like it means that one doesn't have any taste at all.

                          Obviously, I care about good food and places to get it. Otherwise I wouldn't be on this board. But I'm not one to like a restaurant because I have to, or because someone says so or writes so on their blog. And no, I don't mind spending plenty of money at a restaurant to get a nice meal. I'll eat at a hole in the wall or at a white cloth place if it means getting a good meal. And I'll keep going back to places I didn't like the first time just to make sure I wasn't missing something. So don't go getting all high and mighty or all sensitive because someone doesn't like the same joints you do.

                          It's no secret that the Linkery gets serious fluffing on this board. Which is fine. It's the place to go for some, and not for others. I think the Linkery is overrated and expensive. You feel differently. But don't give me the "but this costs this much, and that's why this costs this much" rationale for why they charge what they do. I know very well how that works. And sure, you pay for ambiance, the food, the service, etc. So, fine, hike up the beer and charge more for a cask. But $4 for a soft drink is ridiculous. But that fits in nicely pricewise with the rest of the menu. So, no surprise there.

                          1. re: cookieshoes
                            Josh RE: cookieshoes May 30, 2008 12:19 PM

                            Linkery is pretty much too expensive for me to eat at. I freely acknowledge this, and I do miss the days when dining there was within my budget. I think what rankles though, is this idea of "overpriced". Without knowing actual food and operating costs, it's kind of presumptuous to assume you know what a fair price for them to charge is. For me, I eat there very rarely because of the prices. It is an expensive place to eat, no doubt. Whether or not the prices are justifiable, I don't know their costs so wouldn't presume to say he should be charging less. I simply choose to spend my money at more affordable places.

                            1. re: Josh
                              DiningDiva RE: Josh May 30, 2008 03:40 PM

                              The real issue here isn't really price, it's actually price per value. In reading a lot of these comments I'm seeing "it's expensive", but I'm also seeing, "what I'm getting really isn't worth what I'm paying". And there's the rub. As long as diners *perceive* that what they're getting is even remotely close to what they're paying for it, they'll generally be satisfied to some degree or another. Once they begin to think that what they're getting *isn't* worth what they're paying, the problems start because perception is subjective. It's a fine line and a difficult one for restaurants to balance given the intense pressure on food and labor costs these days.

                              A lot of posters here don't perceive that what they're receiving from The Linkery is worth what they're being charged. Josh, you are one of the few exceptions, you do see that the value of your meal is more or less in line with the price, but your wallet just can't stand the hit. It's an honest response.

                              Just as honest are the comments about the $4 for 8 oz of Dr. Pepper or the $18.50 for 3 links. These comments really speak to how the posters value these items and what they're willing to pay for them. It doesn't make them right, nor does it make them wrong. It simply reflects that in their value and belief structure about food, $4 for 8 oz of DP doesn't work for them (and, frankly, it probably doesn't work for a lot of us).

                              Perception in the restaurant business is a tricky thing. Nearly everyone (myself included) is enamored with the Better Half and almost every comments that it's a good value for what you get. No one says it's too expensive, but I can't get out of there for less than $70-80! I always leave satisfied and feeling like I got my money's worth, or more, even if there were a few bobbles or glitches in the meal. Their very nice service and friendly wine policy help cushion the few rough edges that crop up occasionally with the food. It's all depends on what we value in a restaurant and how it fits into our perceptions of food, service, the intangibles and what we're willing to pay.

                              Clearly, we've got some people here for whom The Linkery does not match up with their perceptions of a restaurant including price structures. It's also one of the reasons Jay's response that they may be happier somewhere else can be so frustrating. People came wanting to like The Linkery and it didn't happen. They wanted validation or recourse and didn't get it. It doesn't mean the restaurant is bad or that the people have terrible taste buds or didn't "get" it, just that things didn't add up on either side and perceptions and values were not met.

                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                Josh RE: DiningDiva May 30, 2008 04:46 PM

                                That's a good point, too. I would have to say that their price/value ratio for me varies a lot. On a recent visit, the last night in their old location, I was relatively happy with the price/value ratio, though I did wind up needing to eat something else a couple of hours later. Something unsustainable in every way, and consequently much less expensive. Jay makes no apologies, nor should he, for sticking to his ideological guns. At the same time, there's no question that's going to result in people who are unhappy with their experience because not everybody is prepared to pay for ideology (and I would include myself in that group, with some exceptions (which is not to say I'm unhappy - I understand what they're trying to do - I just can't always afford to pay for ideology)).

                                1. re: DiningDiva
                                  r
                                  royaljester RE: DiningDiva Jun 10, 2010 03:06 PM

                                  Exactly. This reminds me of an SNL parody of Iron Chef where they used eel fart. I'm sure they can charge $100 a dish for something sprinkled with eel fart, but the economics don't really factor into what "overpriced means". Overpriced is always from the perspective of the consumer.

                                  Loss leader or money losing is from the perspective of the owner.

                                  1. re: royaljester
                                    a
                                    alegramarcel RE: royaljester Jun 12, 2010 10:27 PM

                                    Have you ever had eel fart? It's amazing and worth every penny. Plus it's really hard to extract and capture, driving up the price.

                              2. re: cookieshoes
                                t
                                The Old Man RE: cookieshoes May 30, 2008 12:20 PM

                                I'm confused. I've never eaten there, I don't even like the descriptions I've heard of the place--but who cares what they charge? I think any non-monopoly business should charge as much as it can. The free market will force them to adjust their prices if the public thinks it's too high.

                                And cookie--they keep asking you why you lump Neighborhood in there. I haven't been, but they're saying it's not expensive.

                                In terms of quality--well who knows--as has been pointed out, people stand in line at Chipotle or for that godawful Coldstone, but that's a matter of taste, and that's something we're never going to agree on.

                                That said, I appreciate a review that takes the time to make the food special--care of prep, the ingredients, etc.

                                1. re: cookieshoes
                                  Alice Q RE: cookieshoes May 31, 2008 12:32 AM

                                  I don't think anyone's getting "high and mighty". There's just absolutely no basis for you to assume that these restaurants are engaged in some sort of conspiracy to overcharge in an effort to boost their popularity. The idea strikes me as preposterous, knowing just a little bit about how hard it is to operate an independent restaurant in the SD market.

                                  The Linkery has its quirks, but there's more going on there than just what's on the plate and what it tastes like. Some people don't like and/or just don't get that. It can be a little frustrating when the question of where the food comes from appears to take precedence over how enjoyable it is to eat - I understand that, but that's one of the quirks of the Linkery.

                                  Personally, I think the no tipping policy is a bit of a problem here, because their prices are inflated because of it. For what it's worth, I also think if they're going to charge $4. for a Dr. Pepper, they need to make sure the servers tell people how much it's going to be when they order it, so they can make an informed decision as to whether they want to spend that kind of money on a soda.

                                2. re: Alice Q
                                  r
                                  royaljester RE: Alice Q Jun 10, 2010 03:04 PM

                                  Which bistro charges $4 for soda with no ice or refills? What other city has restaurants charging this? And what does the Linkery's philosophy have to do with good food?

                                  -----
                                  Linkery
                                  3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                3. re: cookieshoes
                                  foodiechick RE: cookieshoes May 30, 2008 10:35 AM

                                  The mention of Neighborhood had me scratching my head as well. I was there for the first time last weekend and couldn't believe how cheaply we got out of that place. Really good value downtown.

                                  1. re: foodiechick
                                    c
                                    cookieshoes RE: foodiechick May 30, 2008 02:21 PM

                                    Neighborhood...the burger there is good. But it's in the same scenario as the others. Hip new place, heavy on the aesthetic, but the food and the overall menu doesn't match for what they charge. In Neighborhood's case, especially for a place that makes a gimmick out of deliberately not carrying ketchup. I don't know, maybe I'm just hungrier than most (or maybe it's that I don't have as much money). But have a burger with onion rings, and add on the incredibly small jalapeno mac n cheese cheese, add on a couple of beers, and it adds up surprisingly fast.

                                    There has been a trend over the past few years of smaller places popping up as food boutiques. Which is great. But it tends to start being disneyland out there. Instead of a place where the food is the reputation, it's more interesting for the gimmick or for the name of the joint.

                                    But believe me, I get it. If one doesn't like it, don't eat there. But that doesn't mean one can't comment on the place. I don't hate any of these places. I love the food we have in this town, and once in a while it's nice to go out and try a place again, whether you liked it the first time or not. And it's not about complaining that one isn't getting the most bang for the buck either. But if one finds that one restaurant is charging more for a beer or particular food than another place, then why shouldn't you be able to note that it's more expensive? Especially after you factor in how the food actually tastes. Really, 3 sausages for $18.50? Come on now. And the response shouldn't be "Well, they are homemade". There are a lot of places out there that make homemade food, and use fresh ingredients. Not all of them have such steep prices.

                                    Anyway, it's the balance in it all. The food, the price, the atmosphere. Some places are a bargain, and some really aren't charging as much as they should. If you like the Linkery, great. If you like Neighborhood, great. If you don't, that's fine too.

                                    1. re: cookieshoes
                                      DiningDiva RE: cookieshoes May 30, 2008 02:53 PM

                                      "Really, 3 sausages for $18.50? Come on now. And the response shouldn't be "Well, they are homemade". There are a lot of places out there that make homemade food, and use fresh ingredients. Not all of them have such steep prices."

                                      This is neither a defense nor criticism of the above quote or The Linkery, what will follow is strictly a cost observation and comment.

                                      To simply classify the sausages at The Linkery as "homemade" isn't exactly accurate. The raw ingredients used and sourced by The Linkery go beyond merely being organic and local. While the concept of "sustainable" includes both organic and locally produced products it also involves the methods of producing or growing the products used. Many of those methods are designed to reduce the carbon footprint (talk about a trendy concept) or tend to be fairly labor intensive or time consuming. Any of these will escalate the price of the finished product(s), and sustainably produced foods are costlier than mass produced ones.

                                      My point? Since The almost 100% of the raw ingredients used at The Linkery are part of the sustainable food network, they're more expensive coming in the door than the identical product purchased from a distributor (even a big one), Restaurant Depot or grocery store. On the surface, $18.50 for 3 links *does* sound excessive. However, the cost of the ingredients going into those links is more expensive to start with since they are sustainable. It's not necessarily that the raw ingredients are "better", it's that they've been raised or grown using methods that are designed to do as little damage as possible to the Earth or in harmony with seasons, terrain, resources, water, etc. It doesn't make it any "better" (very subjective term here), but it does make it more expensive and until sustainable practices move more into the agricultural mainstream (i.e. via demand or necessity) sustainable products will carry a higher price tag.

                                      And, let us also not forget, those same links aren't exactly going to materialize all by themselves. No, you've got to have production staff in the kitchen mixing the sausage and stuffing the casings. The last time I checked, most kitchen staff in SD still expects to be paid for services rendered. (Unless, of course, the kitchen help are unpaid culinary arts interns who are just there for the food <i.e. experience>)

                                      1. re: DiningDiva
                                        c
                                        cstr RE: DiningDiva May 30, 2008 03:16 PM

                                        DD, I agree with you on the part of restaurant owners putting their heart and sole into their chow, and I'm willing to pay a prem for it. However, IMHO,SD has a rep for estabs charging outrageous prices for their chow. I think that rep puts people over the edge in our little neck of the woods. Way too much gouging going on. I mean I've been to HI many times and the estabs there are more reasonable than SD, Why is SD like this?

                                        1. re: cstr
                                          DiningDiva RE: cstr May 30, 2008 04:06 PM

                                          cstr, I think it goes beyond restaurant owners putting their heart and souls into their places. A lot of them do that.

                                          My point was that part of what's driving The Linkery's pricing structure is always going to be the fact that the products they use are more expensive coming in the door than many other local establishments. Pork that has been raised and slaughtered sustainably and humanely is more expensive than mass produced pork. I chose this example specifically because hog farms are notorious for the pollution they produce and environmental damage they can do to the areas surrounding them. If a hog farmer chooses to raise his pigs in an agriculturally integrated environment/system where the by products of the hog farm can be recycles, reused or otherwise converted into something useful it will cost more. A hog farmer who chooses to raise his hogs humanely will have fewer animals and spend more time tending to them than the mass producers. More expensive agricultural practices coupled with fewer animals almost certainly means that the price received for that meat will be higher than pork produced in a hog-mill. So if The Linkery is using pork sustainably and humane raised and slaughtered in their sausages, they've paid far more for the raw ingredient coming in the back door than a comparable restaurant down the street getting similar cuts, but mass produced, pork from Sysco or USFoods.

                                          Now, it's entirely possible, and maybe even true, that restaurant down the street may be able to produce a better product than The Linkery and sell it at a lower price, in part because it cost them less to make.

                                          When I moved back to SD in 2001 from the Bay Area I was very pleasantly surprised at how reasonable food prices were. But as the housing market boomed, so did food costs. I purchase large quantities of food on weekly basis and can tell you food costs have been insane for the last year but have been through the roof since the beginning of this year. Many operators tried to hold prices and not raise them, but they can't do it and stay in business. I used to be able to cost our recipes here at work once a quarter and I wouldn't see much change. Last Fall I had to start costing them monthly, I'm now to the point where I have to cost them almost weekly because prices are changing so much and so rapidly. A case of tuna (6/5# cans) cost us $40 in September, by March it was costing us $67. We now cut our tuna with skipjack which is less than 1/2 the price of tuna. Do I like doing that, no, but it's one of the few ways that I have to control product costs. I am not alone.

                                          Not only has SD had very high housing costs, it also has some of the highest fuel costs in the U.S. and now it looks like food isn't that far behind.

                                        2. re: DiningDiva
                                          r
                                          royaljester RE: DiningDiva Jun 10, 2010 03:17 PM

                                          There is no contradiction in having an excessive markup on food that costs more than normal to produce. Sustainably made food in Europe and even Northcal is very reasonable priced and arguably better than the Linkery. Food quality at the Linkery is fair game because other places do sustainable food better and cheaper, and they serve soda with ice. There's really no arguing around the Dr. Pepper issue - it's neither sustainable, artisian, nor even justified by shipping costs.

                                          -----
                                          Linkery
                                          3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                          1. re: royaljester
                                            Josh RE: royaljester Jun 10, 2010 03:33 PM

                                            Can you elaborate on your contention about food in Europe? I was there recently, and I'd have to say that's one hell of a generalization.

                                            1. re: royaljester
                                              honkman RE: royaljester Jun 10, 2010 03:37 PM

                                              "...fair game because other places do sustainable food better and cheaper" - Just curious which places in SD do sustainable food better (and I am not talking about restaurants with a few items on the menu but everything.)

                                              1. re: royaljester
                                                jmtreg RE: royaljester Jun 10, 2010 03:45 PM

                                                The Dr. Pepper at issue here was not a fountain drink, it was a bottle of soda. Name one place in the country that gives you free refills on bottles of anything. No such restaurant or retail establishment for that matter, would ever allow a customer to get a second or third bottle of anything unless there was a "2 for 1" special. And the Dr. Pepper in question was, in fact, artisanal.

                                                Moreover, there's no indication that the mark-up at the Linkery is, in any way, excessive. Because the Linkery purchases food differently, the costs of that food will tend to be higher, and as a result, we pay a little bit more for our food when we eat there.

                                                -----
                                                Linkery
                                                3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                            2. re: cookieshoes
                                              Josh RE: cookieshoes May 30, 2008 04:23 PM

                                              I'd say "hungrier than most", for sure. For me, a burger at Neighborhood is so filling I can't imagine eating anything alongside of it. It's 1/2 lb. of meat, with rich sauce, cheese, and sizeable amount of bread, and is around $10.

                                        3. jmtreg RE: howstheservice May 30, 2008 04:38 PM

                                          An addendum to my previous post . .yep, the Linkery is expensive. And sometimes, its inconsistent. I've had some things that I found to be blah (Mexican City Lasagna), and other things to be amazing (puerco pibil, pulled pork, sausages). But most importantly, the Linkery is about slow food, from sustainable resources and producers that act responsibly. So they're going to be more expensive, and they're going to be more inconsistent, and I accept that. And that is why I take every experience there as a special occasion.

                                          That said, I can understand the frustration from a first time visitor who has no idea what the restaurant is about. The old location worked because you had to be more than a casual diner to find the place. By the time I entered the Linkery, I knew what they served, why they served it, and how much they charged - all from the website. If I hadn't been so informed, I might have hated the place. Instead its one of my favorites.

                                          Now, as far as howtheservice goes, you may have high expectations, but those expectations come from a lifetime of Sysco-supplied restaurants. And you checked out a restaurant on its opening night -- what did you expect but chaos? Btw, if a Dr. Pepper costs $1.50 to get retail, a $2.50 markup isn't that crazy.

                                          1. j
                                            JackieChiles RE: howstheservice May 30, 2008 04:49 PM

                                            I’ll say right up front I’m new to Chowhound. I’ll make the assumption that the OP is also since this was the first post. However, I’m not new to eating out, nor do I think the OP is either. While I can’t be sure, I also don’t get the feeling the OP has an axe to grind (which I really look for, along with shills) and was just reporting on their experience. I also I don’t think the OP missed the philosophy of the place at all. I think they got it, but there was so much that was wrong when they ate there it just was a bad experience.

                                            By the way, I thought the review was excellent. Very detailed, commenting on the:

                                            Service
                                            Portion sizes
                                            Food preparation and/or presentation
                                            Out of items
                                            Loud dining room
                                            Price

                                            Exactly what I want in a review. Good or bad, I want the details. I hope this site welcomes opposing reviews to what generally may be conventional wisdom? Obviously there is some passion here with 28 posts in less than two days.

                                            I think there is little doubt from all I’ve read about this place that almost everyone thinks this place is expensive.

                                            [Regarding the no tipping policy] “Everything is marked up accordingly…”

                                            “…it is the most expensive of my selections and because of that it does not get frequented as much as it should by my wife and I.”

                                            “Is it expensive? Yeah, but I guess them's the breaks.”

                                            “It's the Whole Foods of the SD Restaurant scene and so some of the prices are pretty crazy.”

                                            “…unreasonably expensive.”

                                            That said, almost everyone offers their reasons (some valid, some not so much) for the additional expense. A very few think it’s a value restaurant.

                                            So will I give the Linkery a try?? Absolutely! With this much buzz, how could I say I love food and not? Isn’t this what the Chowhound website is all about? I take no review at face value. I like to hear the passion ensuing afterwards. I will wait a few months because I do believe most are correct in that the new place is likely to need to get the bugs out.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: JackieChiles
                                              jmtreg RE: JackieChiles May 30, 2008 05:32 PM

                                              A fair point. The Linkery is a love-it or hate-it kind of a place. Regardless of the price and some inconsistency, it's worth trying.

                                              1. re: JackieChiles
                                                m
                                                MrKrispy RE: JackieChiles May 30, 2008 05:36 PM

                                                welcome to Chowhound! Let us know what you think of the Linkery..and if you get a Dr Pepper :)

                                                1. re: MrKrispy
                                                  j
                                                  JackieChiles RE: MrKrispy May 30, 2008 05:59 PM

                                                  Thanks, and when I try it, I will post my review - as intimidating as that seems now! :-) Thanks for the welcome, can't wait to participate more.

                                              2. foodiechick RE: howstheservice May 30, 2008 05:40 PM

                                                Obviously, this thread has highlighted the vast divide between those that value The Linkery and the non-believers. As Dining Diva pointed out, it is really about the individual's perception, and those with strong opinions (pro or con) based on their perceptions are unlikely to be swayed. I have nothing more to add to what I have already said. I just wanted to say how unfortunate it is that the original poster seems to be on a singular, personal mission destroy the reputation of this restaurant. After only ONE visit the orginal poster has given identical reviews to the U/T's website Signonsandiego.com, Chowhound and Yelp. This person has never posted anything before on C or Y and seems to have registered only to spread the negative comments after one visit. Sort of blows the mind.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: foodiechick
                                                  j
                                                  JackieChiles RE: foodiechick May 30, 2008 06:01 PM

                                                  Ah, I did not know of those other reviews. Ok, well, as I said I don't put stock in any one review, so I'll give it a try myself.

                                                2. l
                                                  LisaSD RE: howstheservice Jun 2, 2008 01:51 PM

                                                  I can only guess but have a feeling the OP spread the word about his/her awful experience because of the attitude of Jay's reply. No one should be that arrogant because remember the old saying, "Someone will tell 1 person of a good experience and 10 people about a bad experience." ?

                                                  What Jay COULD have done, since he bothered to reply to the OP, is to graciously apologize and offer to make a reservation for them on a different (slower) night and make sure that he truly experienced what he is trying to make people "get" about his restaurant and how it is different. It seems to me that the OP tried to get resolution from the owner about his bad experience BEFORE he posted negative reviews to here and the other sites, right? If I'd received the "if you don't like it, go somewhere else" response - I'd be letting my fellow CH'ers know about it, too.

                                                  Also, to the new CH Jackie, let me say I am looking forward to seeing your reviews. It can be tough on here if you don't agree with the "regulars" but be sure to give us your opinions so I can get what is sure to be some insightful reviews!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: LisaSD
                                                    j
                                                    JackieChiles RE: LisaSD Jun 2, 2008 04:27 PM

                                                    Thanks for the welcome Lisa. I will write a review. I have really reviewed the website, looked at the blog, and signed up for the newsletter so I can get a better sense of the place and its ideals before dining. He says the "grand re-opening" is sometime in early July, so I want to go after that. I'll be a bit nervous posting a review here, especially since it will be my first, and because the place seems to invoke such passion. My mind will be open and I'll take in all I can and give a report. I'm excited to be a part of this site.

                                                    1. re: LisaSD
                                                      l
                                                      LisaSD RE: LisaSD Jun 13, 2008 02:57 AM

                                                      Since Jay has gone to the trouble to explain his reply to the OP, I think his efforts will make me patronize his restaurant and give it a shot. Don't think I'll be ordering Dr. Pepper, though...

                                                    2. d
                                                      DougOLis RE: howstheservice Jun 10, 2008 02:30 PM

                                                      An interesting article on 7x7sf that Sam (from Becks & Posh) linked to today that is particularly relevant to this thread:
                                                      http://www.7x7sf.com/eat_drink/featur...

                                                      24 Replies
                                                      1. re: DougOLis
                                                        h
                                                        howstheservice RE: DougOLis Jun 10, 2008 04:22 PM

                                                        All the more reason any restaurant, or any business owner, for that matter should go out of its way to provide a pleasurable experience for its patrons. If you can't control the cost of ingredients, rent, etc. the one thing you can control is the experience and how the customer is treated. Both in the restaurant and after the fact.

                                                        1. re: howstheservice
                                                          Fake Name RE: howstheservice Jun 10, 2008 05:08 PM

                                                          Of course.

                                                          But there's no law or wisdom in encouraging the unreasonable folks. Granted, all I know about this situation is what I've read here, but it sounds to me like the owner made the right call. You WOULD be better served by another establishment, and the Linkery WOULD be better off without your business. And, hurt feelings and disappointed assumptions of entitlement set aside, you'd probably agree.

                                                          There ARE limits, and one of the joys of owning a business is telling some clients you will not tolerate their particular behavior, and encourage them all the way to the door.

                                                          fn

                                                          1. re: Fake Name
                                                            h
                                                            howstheservice RE: Fake Name Jun 11, 2008 12:43 PM

                                                            And that type of pretentiousness is always good for business!
                                                            Yes I have been better served by other establishments and I doubt the Linkery will be better off without me, they've made it pretty clear they don't care, but I will be probably better off without the Linkery.
                                                            You're right you don't know anything other than what is posted here. I don't think anything here points to an assumption of entitlement. Unless it is entitlement to expect to be seated in order arrived, to be treated with grace and tact and to not be taken advantage of at the till.

                                                            1. re: howstheservice
                                                              Alice Q RE: howstheservice Jun 11, 2008 01:54 PM

                                                              I'm not sure if you realize this - but the more you say - the more apparent it becomes that FN is absolutely right.

                                                              1. re: howstheservice
                                                                foodiechick RE: howstheservice Jun 11, 2008 02:24 PM

                                                                You know I read this latest post and thought what's the point. Your experience is not the same experience that everybody else has or will have. You have stuck to your script and repeatedly made your point. We get it - you don't like the place or the owner, you will not recommend it and will never go back, and no reason or argument will change your mind. Strong opinions are good, but don't you even think that your relentless diatribe is getting a tad tired. Move on to the next place you want to trash...you're wearing me out Man!

                                                                1. re: foodiechick
                                                                  t
                                                                  The Old Man RE: foodiechick Jun 11, 2008 03:17 PM

                                                                  "Your experience is not the same experience that everybody else has or WILL HAVE."
                                                                  Ah, a forture teller.

                                                                  Boy it's nice to see CH mods finally let a thread go forward with a little heat.

                                                                  FWIW, it seems that the OP got bad service at the restaurant and the owner couldn't just admit it.

                                                                  1. re: The Old Man
                                                                    Fake Name RE: The Old Man Jun 11, 2008 06:53 PM

                                                                    I'm really not trying to add "heat".

                                                                    I'm just observing- the OP is best served by choosing another place to eat, and the establishment is better off allowing another paying customer to use that seat. This place has no trouble getting more customers, and there are plenty of other places from which the OP may choose.

                                                                    The problem comes when the OP is feeling disrespected- h/she feels as if the owner should have gotten on his knees and begged for a return visit, no doubt comped.

                                                                    The owner knows the possibility of pleasing the OP is unlikely, and that he'll always be unable to please some percentage of his customers. One cannot make everyone happy every time.

                                                                    As a business owner, I've fired my share of clients- it's frequently the smartest thing to do. And I usually wait too long to do so. The Linkery owner did not make that mistake.

                                                                    No heat, just an observation about the business. And that's it-

                                                                    It's just business, nothing personal.

                                                                    fn

                                                                    1. re: Fake Name
                                                                      Josh RE: Fake Name Jun 11, 2008 10:08 PM

                                                                      Great points. Unfortunately, we live in a society that has come to accept the concept of "the customer is always right" unquestioningly.

                                                                      1. re: Josh
                                                                        Fake Name RE: Josh Jun 12, 2008 06:02 AM

                                                                        Yup.

                                                                        That's the entitlement to which I referred earlier. I believe "the customer is always right" existed and worked in a much more polite society, where the *customer had a obligation* of ethical and moral conduct. Now, people don't think twice about wearing and returning expensive clothing, and we have to have signs to tell people to discontinue their phone conversations before approaching a cashier.

                                                                        And restaurant patrons have come to believe they always deserve to be treated like they are far more powerful than they really are.

                                                                        With the information provided by the OP about the experience at the restaurant, I'd have been disappointed as well, and would probably not return. But angry and revengeful? I'd hope not.

                                                                        fn

                                                                        1. re: Fake Name
                                                                          t
                                                                          The Old Man RE: Fake Name Jun 12, 2008 06:46 AM

                                                                          "I believe 'the customer is always right' existed and worked in a much more polite society, where the *customer had a obligation* of ethical and moral conduct."

                                                                          Are you sure you, and others, aren't attacking the OP? It sure sounds like you're saying that he didn't act in a ethical and moral way.

                                                                          1. re: The Old Man
                                                                            Josh RE: The Old Man Jun 12, 2008 08:55 AM

                                                                            It's not my intent to attack the OP. However, it generally rubs me the wrong way when someone creates an account on here solely for the purpose of airing their gripes about a restaurant. Ostensibly, the purpose of this site is for people interested in good food and drink to share information about good places to find these things. If all you're going to do is register an account to try and exact vengeance for a bad experience, I take that with a big shaker of salt, as it tells me more about the poster than it does about the restaurant. Especially when they do the same thing on other local sites, reposting the same thing word for word.

                                                                            The people who are regular users have simply communicated to the OP that we get their point but don't necessarily agree. The OP could choose to stop beating the dead horse.

                                                                            1. re: Josh
                                                                              t
                                                                              The Old Man RE: Josh Jun 12, 2008 09:01 AM

                                                                              "It's not my intent to attack the OP. However, it generally rubs me the wrong way when someone creates an account on here solely for the purpose of airing their gripes about a restaurant."

                                                                              I agree with this. But we don't yet know if it was their sole purpose. Perhaps they will be posting further. We will have to see. But if it's also negative that should be perfectly valid. In fact it's valid if all their posts are negative. They are not required to post all good, or a mix of good and bad reviews.

                                                                              1. re: The Old Man
                                                                                Josh RE: The Old Man Jun 12, 2008 09:32 AM

                                                                                No disagreement there.

                                                                                1. re: Josh
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  The Old Man RE: Josh Jun 12, 2008 10:44 AM

                                                                                  howtheservice--we'll be watching. [; > )

                                                                            2. re: The Old Man
                                                                              Fake Name RE: The Old Man Jun 12, 2008 10:42 AM

                                                                              If it appeared that I was attacking, I apologize, I mistyped. I did not mean to call the OP's morals and ethics into question.

                                                                              I was trying to refer to the service/business environment in general terms.

                                                                              I apologize, especially to OP, if I was unclear.

                                                                              fn

                                                                      2. re: The Old Man
                                                                        Alice Q RE: The Old Man Jun 11, 2008 11:40 PM

                                                                        If you read the entire thread, you'd see that Jay did actually respond to this person with at least the intention of being polite and understanding. Apparently it wasn't enough for him.

                                                                    2. re: howstheservice
                                                                      Josh RE: howstheservice Jun 11, 2008 02:39 PM

                                                                      OK, so we get your point about Linkery. Perhaps you'd like to post something else about another topic related to San Diego dining? Maybe a restaurant you recently went to that you enjoyed? There's a lot of discussion on here about stuff in San Diego, but with your sole posting here being in this thread I have to wonder how interested in this subject you really are.

                                                                      1. re: howstheservice
                                                                        c
                                                                        cstr RE: howstheservice Jun 12, 2008 05:30 AM

                                                                        After Jay's comments, you should give it another try and get back to us about your 2nd experience. I bet that hostess is absent. OH, just skip the Dr. Pepper, that probably didn't change.

                                                                        1. re: howstheservice
                                                                          j
                                                                          jayporter RE: howstheservice Jun 12, 2008 03:24 PM

                                                                          I'm sincerely flattered to be the subject of so many pixels on this thread. My lack of objectivity naturally precludes me from joining the discussion, but in the interest of promoting academic rigor -- particularly the use of primary sources -- on this topic which is literally near and dear to my heart, I'm pasting the oft-referenced email, typos and all, below, in this post.

                                                                          I wish my character were exceptional or interesting enough to sustain unlimited conversation about it, but I'm sad to predict that, in the end, it will prove far less interesting than food and such.

                                                                          ***

                                                                          From: jay@thelinkery.com
                                                                          Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 06:55:27
                                                                          To:[EMAIL_REDACTED]
                                                                          Subject: Re: disappointing night at The Linkery

                                                                          Hi Bill,

                                                                          Thanks for writing abotu your experience, I appreciate it. I'm really sorry you didn't enjoy your time.

                                                                          Many of the things that went wrong that nite are things that came with the new space and we are working to fix. Being a small independent buiness we simply do not have the financial luxury to build a complete space, try everything out, and then open. We have to do our best to get it right on the fly, and correct things where we can. Over the course of the next few weeks we will continue to improve the space and our operations. I'm sorry they weren't better on Saturday, though I can promise they will conitnue to improve.

                                                                          As for our prices, they reflect the costs of serving nonprocessed, independently grown food. Rest assured that while we are always busy the business is still years from breaking even financially. I wish we could sell this food cheaper but we haven't figured out how to.

                                                                          There are lots of rerstaurants out there, and undoubtedly there are plenty that will make you happy, so ultimately it works out well for everybody. I wish you the best.

                                                                          Best,
                                                                          Jay

                                                                          Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

                                                                          ****

                                                                          From: <EMAIL_REDACTED>
                                                                          Date: Mon, 26 May 2008 23:13:23
                                                                          To:jay@thelinkery.com
                                                                          Subject: disappointing night at The Linkery

                                                                          Hello,

                                                                          As a neighbor, I was really excited to try the new location. I admit, I had never been to the original location although I had intended to many times, but never made it.

                                                                          As a newbie, I was not sure what to expect. When we arrived Friday evening, you looked pretty busy, but we were able to get a parking spot right in front of the door and we saw that there were at least two empty tables in the dining room. When we came in, we were told there would be a wait, and asked to give our name.

                                                                          Someone, I will assume was you, Jay, told us that this was only your second night in the new space and you were having to work around a few problems but welcome. OK, thanks. We waited. After about 40 minutes a hostess came and told us there was a bar table available if we wanted to sit there or it should be just a few minutes for a regular height table. My partner had spinal surgery just over a year ago and still has some nerve damage so we opted to wait for the regular height table.

                                                                          The hostess moved on to the next name on the wait list and as she was taking them to the bar height table , they asked if they could have the open, regular height table that had been empty since we arrived and she said yes! We couldn't have had that table? Any other number of people waiting before us couldn't have had that table? Poor customer relations! I don't care how good your food is, if you treat people that poorly, it gets noticed.

                                                                          After about 20 more minutes we were lead to a table on the far side of the dining room, two small tables pushed together for a four topper. When the waitress finally came by, she informed us of all the things you had already run out of, namely three of the offered sausages and the fish. Since what I was most interested in was trying two of the missing sausages, it would have been nice to know this before waiting that long for a table. All you had to do was post it on the window where you were writing down names for seating--"Sorry, but we have run out of x, y, and z" Easy enough, I could then decide if I wanted to come back another day or try something different.

                                                                          I opted for the choucroute with two links and my partner ordered the pork chop. We appreciate good food and enjoy eating out often. The presentation of both these plates was lackluster at best. The sauerkraut was flattened out, and kind of camouflaged by the melted cheese and was not too appealing in appearance. My partner's pork chop was unrecognizable as a pork chop. It was explained to us that the meat had a lot of fat and one should expect to have each bite be half fat and half meat, but she did not explain what to do about all the gristle/connective tissue! The small portion of potatoes was good flavored but seemed a little skimpy for a $19.50 dish.

                                                                          Speaking of price, I can't let pass the cost of a soft drink--$4 for 8 oz of Dr. Pepper, that didn't even fill the glass?! Which came without ice, I might add. I almost never drink alcohol when out as I am the driver, so I usually get a soft drink. I have never been charged that much for a single soft drink, especially in a place that likes to characterize itself as a neighborhood restaurant. You make a big deal that all your meat and produce is locally grown, yet you buy your Dr. Pepper from a lone bottling plant in Texas?! Does that make sense? To add insult to injury, the second one also cost $4 for a grand total of $8 for 16 oz of soda-- nice mark up! Makes me wonder how little the pork chop cost you if you were charging that kind of mark up on soda! You have a bar, you have the system, get some tanks and have soda on tap and don't charge an arm and a leg and offer gratis refills. No one will think any less of you.

                                                                          Just before our food came, the hostess came by and took one of the tables we were sitting at to make a big table for a larger group, rather than take the empty table across the aisle from us!? Guess you didn't want to miss the opportunity to fill that table as well, even though it was close to 10pm and that table had sat empty for 10 minutes already. For whatever reason she thought it was better to make us uncomfortable rather than take that other table.

                                                                          The dining room is very loud as there are no soft surfaces to absorb the sound, so we had to listen to our next door table complain about how little meat there was on their $88 goat! Maybe some cloth baffles in the air, some art on the walls, perhaps some curtains, etc. would help to dampen the noise problem.

                                                                          Since I work as a retail consultant, I realize I have high expectations for service and atmosphere, but I also know how easy it is to get the details right and provide a satisfactory experience.

                                                                          As it stands I don't think I will return to the Linkery and I'm sad that I can't recommend this local restaurant to my friends either. I had read good things about the restaurant and had high hopes that I'd find a new local gem. Should have noticed that no one I knew had ever said anything about going there. Not sure what I expect by writing this email but I thought you should know how one diner's experience went.

                                                                          Thank you,

                                                                          Bill

                                                                          1. re: jayporter
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                                                                            The Old Man RE: jayporter Jun 12, 2008 04:05 PM

                                                                            Proof there's nothing worse than being in the restaurant business.

                                                                            1. re: jayporter
                                                                              l
                                                                              littlestevie RE: jayporter Jun 12, 2008 04:36 PM

                                                                              Jay I have never been to your place, I am up in No. county. I was leery of making the trek down to try it with what I consider the restaurant mortal sin, clueless hostesses. But I have never seen somebody go thru the effort that you did on this website. I really appreciate you openess. There are very few restaurant owners that would do this. Thanks for the insite and I will try your place.

                                                                              1. re: jayporter
                                                                                j
                                                                                JackieChiles RE: jayporter Jun 12, 2008 05:16 PM

                                                                                I thought it was a great reply also. All the more reason for me to quickly get my butt in there. I'm going with an open mind, open heart and hungry stomach. Rarely, if ever, have I seen anything like this thread.

                                                                                I do believe the OP has some valid issues, and I believe the owner and others, have some valid responses. If it were me, I would give it a second chance after the "re-opening" in July, which is what I'm waiting for. Wow, what a passionate thread!

                                                                                1. re: JackieChiles
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  smile81 RE: JackieChiles Jun 12, 2008 05:50 PM

                                                                                  after reading the thread for awhile, I have to mention a recent experience I had at another new restaurant in the same area. I also suffered from a bad service experience and "poor value". although on previous visits I was impressed, the one time I brought out of town guests, and they were paying, it was appalling. I also wrote the restaurant an email... but what happened next was totally opposite. I received personal phone call from the owner, leaving her personal cell phone number in the message. When we connected, she apologized profusely, explained that she circulated my email to the staff and that it will never happen again. She also sent me gift cards. This is a restauranteur who believes every neighbor makes a good customer, not just those who will suffer through BS or attitude. And trust me, this was a small operation, within 1 month of opening, and very busy. I know you can't send gift cards to everyone who complains, but a serious service error should have a customer friendly remedy.

                                                                                  1. re: smile81
                                                                                    j
                                                                                    JackieChiles RE: smile81 Jun 12, 2008 06:28 PM

                                                                                    Just my two cents,

                                                                                    I think those are two different responses for sure. An email, a call – for me, I would be fine with either response. I don’t need an owner of an establishment calling me apologizing profusely, and I certainly would not expect gift cards. I don’t want that. Just address the issues and try to give some solutions in a neatly composed email.

                                                                                    I think the real differences here are that you had eaten at this place multiple times and you were impressed. You got a bad night, it happens. You probably will give the place another shot right? Especially based on the response. You also got a response that was acceptable to you.

                                                                                    For the OP, this was a first time visit, and they didn’t get the response they would have liked. After reading the Linkery response I would have chalked it up to a bad night, and gave it another shot in a few months. That’s just me tho. It seems everyone has their own expectations when such things happen. As well they should.

                                                                    3. s
                                                                      sabotage RE: howstheservice Sep 16, 2008 10:57 PM

                                                                      I recently visited The Linkery for a Saturday lunch. We ordered the cheeseburger and the reuben off of the limited lunch menu and split them both. While we waited for our food we each had a beer. One was the cask conditioned ale and the other was the Belgian white style, both delicious. We were starving and eager when our food arrived, especially to try the hyped reuben! The burger was far from the best I've had, and actually was just kinda alright. It seemed dry and the bun wasn't very good. the reuben on the other hand, was amazing and I'm not a fan of the classic sandwich. Perfect sauerkraut. We each ordered another beer to help wash it all down.
                                                                      The service was awesome, very attentive and passionate and even warned us when we ordered a $13 beer (we changed our minds).
                                                                      With all of that said, I cannot justify going back. Our bill came to $70 and I just don't think the value is there. I appreciate the idea, but even of the bill was $40 I don't think it was memorable. Unfortunately, our meal was memorable for the wrong reason, $70 for 4 beers and 2 sandwiches

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: sabotage
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                                                                        Ewilensky RE: sabotage Sep 17, 2008 07:13 AM

                                                                        Sigh.

                                                                        We went to The Linkery again. We've been fans since they opened in their old location.

                                                                        We wonder where the restaurant we loved went, seems to be replaced with a set of guiding principals. These principals are good and important and ones we believe in but I'm tired of manifesto and just want some good reasonably priced food with decent service.

                                                                        Sadly, I got none of that last time we went and only a $80 bill.

                                                                        This was our last visit. Hopefully Jay and crew will find their way again, because the entire experience was one big misfire. Slow and gruff service, forgotten dishes, flawed execution and frankly not very good (expensive) food.

                                                                        There is a restaurant somewhere in the mishmash of ideology but it was not showing itself the night we went by.

                                                                        1. re: Ewilensky
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                                                                          smile81 RE: Ewilensky Sep 17, 2008 12:05 PM

                                                                          I recently had my first trip to the linkery even bringing an out of town guest... food and drinks were enjoyed by all. But, the service was especially good. Good knowledge of beer and ingredients, courteous, and timely. Will definitely be back. Not cheap though, but in my opinion worth it. we had a salad with prosciutto, sausage plate, and some tongue terrine.

                                                                          1. re: smile81
                                                                            foodiechick RE: smile81 Sep 17, 2008 01:10 PM

                                                                            Had a nice lunch there on Saturday, hubby had the tongue terrine and loved it. Best service we have had. Not inexpensive, but love the vibe of the new location with the windows rolled up.

                                                                          2. re: Ewilensky
                                                                            d
                                                                            dustchick RE: Ewilensky Sep 17, 2008 04:57 PM

                                                                            My SO and I had a wonderful dinner at the Linkery last month. A little too expensive to go into the regular rotation right now, but we are eager to return. I just wanted to pop in to say that, not only was the food wonderful, the service was great as well. Friendly, prompt, just the right amount of attention.

                                                                            It's a shame the service seems to be uneven, but we'd have never guessed it from our experience.

                                                                            1. re: dustchick
                                                                              e
                                                                              Ewilensky RE: dustchick Sep 17, 2008 07:07 PM

                                                                              And that's the problem for me -- they've been spot on for years, and then on our past 4 visits have been horrible. I gave them the benefit of the doubt twice -- growing pains, busy nights but I can't justify a trip back for the quality and price anymore -- especially with so many other wonderful places in the neighborhood.

                                                                              Like I said, I hope they find their way again because I think what the Linkery does is important and I really want to like them.

                                                                        2. m
                                                                          MrKrispy RE: howstheservice Sep 18, 2008 10:06 AM

                                                                          Linkery is expensive but in the long run the type of food is better for us, the animals, and the planet. If you like the Food Revolution you are gonna have to help pay for it.

                                                                          1. c
                                                                            cookieshoes RE: howstheservice Jan 11, 2010 09:37 PM

                                                                            So, an update...

                                                                            Went back to the Linkery recently. Same old story. $80+ bill for two entrees with beer and wine. There was a forgotten dish in there, and most of the food was cold when brought to the table. Service was scatterbrain and unattentive.

                                                                            That's the same old story, but at least I have finally found some piece of mind with regards to why this restaurant puzzles me...

                                                                            The good: The menu of the Linkery has literally dozens of partners under the banner of being a "farm to table" restaurant. So many big names in there. Over 40 partners. That's great. Really.

                                                                            The bad: When the food hits the table, the very crucial thing that it lacks is FLAVOR. Just beneath that is the fact that there is no cohesive sense of presentation. Dish after dish, and it feels as if there is very little thought put into how these heavily advertised ingredients are combined.

                                                                            All of those incredibly enticing names, and all of those fancy sources for produce and meats. Yet, I try so very hard to taste any of it. I do not claim to have the best palate, but I most definitely do not have the worst. I've had some very nice meals, and more than my share of bad ones. But, I am confident enough to say that I would know the difference.

                                                                            With so much decoration and explanation of just "how good" their ingredients are, you are nearly convinced that the food you're about to eat will be a religious experience. Sadly, it isn't. And yes, I wish it would be.

                                                                            I've given the Linkery more than my fair share of tries, and have sat through the same "we don't take tips" schtick over and over, only to be stuck with the same $80 bill for a light dinner where they added 18% service automatically. You want to really be different? Don't add the tip automatically, and THEN tell me that you don't take tips. At least that would put the ball in my court. Because it's offensive and downright slimy to say "we don't take tips" and then tack on 18% as a house policy. You are taking tips. Not only that, you're making them mandatory. That may work as a way of off-setting costs, but I actually always tip 20 percent at sit-down restaurants, regardless of where I eat. (This is out of permanent respect to my wife, who worked double shifts waiting tables putting herself through college). So, by adding this tip on my bill for me, your servers are actually losing money, and rubbing me the wrong way at the same time. What's more, is the fact that your servers have absolutely zero incentive to improve their service skills if they are getting the same guaranteed wage everytime they show up for work. So, no wonder the service was average at best.

                                                                            Don't get me wrong, "farm to table" food is a great premise. But, in the end, the only thing that actually tastes better shouldn't be the piece of mind from knowing that you're eating a "rare" or artisan food. Because, ultimately, this ideal isn't as romantic as it sounds. It's still a bunch of businesses banding together to deliver the best products they can. Yet, when packaged under such a nifty name, somehow that's supposed to equate to offering "automatic quality". "Farm to table". I agree, it does have a very nice pitch. But, if it doesn't taste any better than what I can buy at Ralphs, or eat at a restaurant that isn't farm to table, then the burden of providing satisfaction shouldn't be on the diner, it should be on the restaurant to provide it. If you want to brag about your bacon, make me a dish that features it in all of it's glory. I'd pay out the ears for it, gladly. But the dishes don't. And I end up kicking myself for having been lured in once again.

                                                                            My advice...if you want farm-to-table foods, I suggest you spend the $10 and pick up some ingredients from the farmer's market and try out some simple recipes to maximize the flavors. Plain and simple. Spend some time at home for once, and truly take from the farms to your OWN table. I just don't know that this premise works otherwise. Certainly not at the Linkery.

                                                                            That's been my experience. Repeatedly. If you've had a different one, power to you.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: cookieshoes
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                                                                              stevewag23 RE: cookieshoes Jan 11, 2010 10:55 PM

                                                                              "I suggest you spend the $10 and pick up some ingredients from the farmer's market and try out some simple recipes to maximize the flavors. Spend some time at home for once, and truly take from the farms to your OWN table."

                                                                              That is what I have been doing in 2010.

                                                                              1. re: stevewag23
                                                                                d
                                                                                deeznuts RE: stevewag23 Jan 12, 2010 12:33 AM

                                                                                "That is what I have been doing in 2010."

                                                                                That sounds like a good plan. Salt, pepper, probably some crushed garlic (I put garlic in everything, sue me), maybe an herb of some sort, and then the ingredients. Thats my recipe for when I whip something up ad hoc style with some ingredients I bought from a farmers market. If your ingredients are good, that's all you need.

                                                                                Oh and some good olive oil.

                                                                                And it's fun to go to the farmers market, buy stuff, go home enjoy it with your loved one (or ones), then have them enjoy the meal.

                                                                              2. re: cookieshoes
                                                                                honkman RE: cookieshoes Jan 11, 2010 11:06 PM

                                                                                There was a time when The Linkery moved to the new place when my wife and I were a bit unhappy about how The Linkery started in the new place. The food was inconsistent and the service quite chaotic (missing dishes, entrees served before appetizers or everything at the same time, no water for the table etc.). (I guess that is something restaurants always experience when they start in a new place). But about 12-15 months ago the quality of the food got better and better (some of the best meat you will get in SD which really taste like meat should taste with good use of seasonal ingredients (but I would still like to see the chocolate-bacon milkshake back on the menu)) and the service is great and there aren't any issues anymore. The Better Half was for about 1.5 years our go to place where we went pretty much every week. Since Better Half is gone Linkery and Cafe Chloe are now our main places in SD where we go at least every two weeks.

                                                                                1. re: honkman
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  The Office Goat RE: honkman Jan 12, 2010 07:20 AM

                                                                                  We've been twice in the last 3-4 months, and both times were very good. Our kids have been happy with their food, too, and want to go back. We're gonna shoot for once a month, I think. I wish we lived closer.

                                                                                  It was VERY nice to be able to grab a glass of Victory at Sea with "brunch" and, God help me, even their ketchup was good. I have never in 40+ years of existence put ketchup on eggs (I find the thought repulsive) but after tasting what came as a side with my wife's burger, I was sorely tempted to try it with my sizeable grass-fed machaca omelet. I almost did it.

                                                                                  1. re: honkman
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                                                                                    DougOLis RE: honkman Jan 12, 2010 08:32 AM

                                                                                    That chocolate-bacon milkshake was heaven; I'm not sure why they don't offer it all the time.

                                                                                  2. re: cookieshoes
                                                                                    r
                                                                                    royaljester RE: cookieshoes Jun 10, 2010 03:29 PM

                                                                                    "It's offensive and downright slimy to say "we don't take tips" and then tack on 18% as a house policy. You are taking tips. Not only that, you're making them mandatory."

                                                                                    Spot on. Normally when a place says they don't take tips - and there are many such places - they don't take tips. Let's not play word games here.

                                                                                    1. re: royaljester
                                                                                      jmtreg RE: royaljester Jun 10, 2010 03:38 PM

                                                                                      No, its clearly posted that there's an 18% service charge at the door. If you don't want to pay the service charge, turn around, and walk out the door.

                                                                                    2. re: cookieshoes
                                                                                      j
                                                                                      Jenkay RE: cookieshoes Jul 27, 2010 03:29 PM

                                                                                      I know this is an old thread, but I saw that it had been revived recently- and was getting ready to throw my .01 cent in when I read this post. Pretty much spot-on. I love the ideal, I love what they're doing, I was *SO* excited... But the restaurant itself just doesn't do it for me, in fact every time I've been there (I think it's been 6 or 7) I've actually left feeling irritated- for pretty much all the reasons outlined above.

                                                                                      I really really wanted to love them, which is why I'd gone back so many times. Sigh.

                                                                                    3. m
                                                                                      MrKrispy RE: howstheservice Jan 12, 2010 07:15 AM

                                                                                      I have been batting 1.000 on the Smokehouse Sundays, really happy with that.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: MrKrispy
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                                                                                        The Office Goat RE: MrKrispy Jan 12, 2010 07:28 AM

                                                                                        Yeah, the first time we went I had a pulled lamb sandwich that was great.

                                                                                        1. re: MrKrispy
                                                                                          j
                                                                                          JRSD RE: MrKrispy Jan 12, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                                                          This Sundays Smokehouse with Ballast Point Beers on cask looks fantastic and they are having Ruben Tuesday today - absolutely the best cured meat sandwich in SD in my book.

                                                                                        2. a
                                                                                          alegramarcel RE: howstheservice Jun 9, 2010 06:49 PM

                                                                                          I agree. I find The Linkery disappointing. The food is really good, but I think their prices are still higher than is justifiable. I had an amazing squash ravioli there once that was worth the price, but I guess it's sort of hit or miss. I thought the food was more consistently awesome and service better in their old location - perhaps a case of outgrowing their own capacities?

                                                                                          Have you ever had their cheese plate? I went once with a party of 4, and the cheese plate was so small it was served with THREE crackers - not even one per person!!! We complained, and the server said "Yeah, I think it's small, too." But didn't offer to comp it or give us a free dessert or anything... so, also lacking a bit in customer service.

                                                                                          I still go there sometimes, but there are so many other restaurants to choose from that I don't go too often.

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Linkery
                                                                                          3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: alegramarcel
                                                                                            SDGourmand RE: alegramarcel Jun 9, 2010 09:10 PM

                                                                                            I find the service to be incredibly slow I don't think the servers see the need to work as hard since the tip is already factored into the check. I went in a few weeks ago just to get some cured meats and sausages to take home and waited almost 30 minutes. That is just ridiculous.

                                                                                            1. re: SDGourmand
                                                                                              t
                                                                                              The Office Goat RE: SDGourmand Jun 10, 2010 05:04 PM

                                                                                              I've never found the table service to be incredibly slow -- and every time I've been there it's been with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. If service was incredibly slow, I'd never hear the end of it from them. ;-)

                                                                                              As for ordering stuff to take home, you can't say you weren't warned. This is printed on every one of their menus:
                                                                                              "NORTH PARK MEAT COMPANY house cured meats packed to go, price per ounce (please be patient, we cut and package these to order)"

                                                                                              Maybe get a beer while you wait next time? It'll dull the pain.

                                                                                              1. re: The Office Goat
                                                                                                SDGourmand RE: The Office Goat Jun 10, 2010 05:13 PM

                                                                                                I didn't see that written. But I doubt they are making sausages to order. I also asked for slab bacon and a slab of lardo so not much cutting their. If they can do it at an albertsons in under 2 minutes I think NPM can manage.

                                                                                                1. re: SDGourmand
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                                                                                                  The Office Goat RE: SDGourmand Jun 10, 2010 08:29 PM

                                                                                                  Albertsons has a guy standing there all day waiting for you. What time did you go? It seems like a fairly lean operation. If the kitchen staff is cooking someone's corvina or burger, I can see how they might wait until they were done with that before getting your order ready.

                                                                                                  You wouldn't expect Albertson's to have your meat cut and packaged in 2 min if the checker at the register had to do it and had some people waiting, would you?

                                                                                                  OTOH if the restaurant and bar were closed (and they weren't buried under some esoteric prep work), I'd be irked over a long wait, too.

                                                                                                  1. re: The Office Goat
                                                                                                    SDGourmand RE: The Office Goat Jun 13, 2010 09:08 AM

                                                                                                    It was 1:30 3 tables in the whole place, 2 of them were paying the check the other was on dessert. They were not busy in the least.

                                                                                            2. re: alegramarcel
                                                                                              d
                                                                                              deeznuts RE: alegramarcel Jun 21, 2010 04:40 PM

                                                                                              Agreed. I visited the Linkery this weekend for my birthday, just me and the lady. The food was decent, not outstanding. I had grouper with some veggies, a little potato, and a lemon emulsion. Actually tasted very good, but was a tiny portion (luckily I do not have a huge appetite). But the fish was very undercooked. Now, I don't mind a bit raw seafood as long as it is fresh, but this was more raw than I would like when ordering a fish plate (sashimi is sashimi).

                                                                                              My lady had the country boil and the shrimp was delicious, the corn overcooked, the potatoes raw. For $32 we expected them to time those better if possible.

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              Linkery
                                                                                              3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                              1. re: deeznuts
                                                                                                t
                                                                                                The Office Goat RE: deeznuts Jun 21, 2010 10:46 PM

                                                                                                We got lucky on Sunday: Everything we ordered was good, even the flatbread. The only other time I'd tried the flatbread (lemon chicken) there it was just okay. This time it was a grassfed beef meatball flatbread with jalapeños and delicious. We also got three orders of the sausages: the linguesa from their sausage wars was the table favorite -- my kids loved it even though it had a good amount of back-of-the-throat heat. Normally they won't touch anything with any heat in it at all. This time they ate the whole thing and were asking for more. There was also a sausage handroll with some sinus-clearing mustard and the kids ordered one more sausage (saveloy?). Good, but the linguesa won out emphatically.

                                                                                                Besides all the sausage orders, I had a ham & cheese frittata and split a pecan cinnamon bun. Perfect dessert and went well with the Bruery's Einer's Folly porter. The Craftsman rye bitter was great (I had seconds) and other than the flash of rye flavor, was the closest thing I've had in decades to the Morrell's bitter I used to drink in Oxford back in the late 1980s. Very nice tastebud flashback, there. My wife liked the Chi beer a lot. The only way it could have been better was if I could have seen the game from my seat. I think they lost a TV somewhere, or maybe it got moved from where people in the back could see. The place was packed, and it was the first time I can recall having to wait for a table (only a few minutes). Very fun Father's Day brunch, in all.

                                                                                                Some day I'm gonna get the smokehouse. I still dream of that pulled lamb sandwich I got the first time I was there. Soooo tasty.

                                                                                            3. The Chowhound Team RE: howstheservice Jul 27, 2010 11:27 PM

                                                                                              The Dublin Dr. Pepper and cane sugar Coke digression has it's own thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/723617

                                                                                              1. d
                                                                                                diningwithkids RE: howstheservice Jan 6, 2011 10:00 AM

                                                                                                I so want to like this place. No, I want to love it. I love what they're trying to do here. But after so many years, it shouldn't seem like they're still "trying".

                                                                                                Yet somehow I am continually dissappointed by this place and always leave saying I'll never go back. But I do. Keep going back because its close to home and its hard to get into Urban Solace without a reservation.

                                                                                                So I'll start with the bright spot. The new menu is (on face value) great. Pared down, simpler, better focus. Wine list remains FANTASTIC, lots of value and great variety. My son ordered a delightful dish of gnocchi with ham and peas. Soft, pilows of fresh carbo goodness, with the nice contrast of salty ham and crisp peas. Also, we ordered grilled green beans, which were just that, perfectly fresh local beans thrown on a hot grill and doused with a splash of soy at the end. Simple but great.

                                                                                                Then the medium. We ordered the beet salads. Not bad, in fact, I would have thought it was decent if I hadn't just eaten the much-better-prepared beet salad from Smoking Goat just a week prior.

                                                                                                Then the bad. A pumpkin soup that came out cold and flavorless. No complexity, just tasted like pureed pumpkins watered down with broth. And what should have been a slam-dunk, the fried pastured chicken leg. It was so bad I can't even do it justice here. First off, no seasoning. The coating was nice and crunchy, but bland and desperately needed salt. Then the chicken itself had no flavor and was tough and grisly. The greens it came with were okay, if a bit underseasoned as well. One bright spot was the tangy squash pickles on the plate. Would have loved to eat a whole plate of those as an appetizer.

                                                                                                Bottom line this is a great place for drinks and fresh veg apps. Entrees are hit or miss.

                                                                                                Also, one note about service. With the new concept, it seems like any available server takes your order or brings your food. It was pretty well executed so have to give credit there. however, it did freak us out a little bit and I don't know why but it annoyed me to have 3 different people ask us if we were ready to order.

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Urban Solace Restaurant
                                                                                                3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: diningwithkids
                                                                                                  honkman RE: diningwithkids Jan 6, 2011 10:07 AM

                                                                                                  If you were unhappy with the execution of some of the dishes did you tell them or send it back ? A kitchen can only react to bad execution if customers make them aware.

                                                                                                2. jmtreg RE: howstheservice Jan 10, 2011 12:49 PM

                                                                                                  To give a little bit of love to the Linkery, I had brunch there on Sunday and everything was excellent. I had the country ham and eggs and my significant other had the veggie benedict with bacon. The ham was astoundingly good, and played off brilliantly with the eggs. The benedict was apparently delicious, though I didn't get a taste. Both dishes came with a quarter of a pomegranate, some tangerines segments and a couple of slices of persimmons. Really, really good stuff.

                                                                                                  Regardless, the significance of the Linkery cannot be expressed through the food alone. Jay Porter didn't just create a restaurant, he helped create a business model for farm to table restaurants in San Diego. Other restaurants can now use the sources that the Linkery has developed and produce their own farm to table food. So, even if the food at the Linkery was hit or miss - though that was probably caused by the ever-changing menu - you cannot deny the significance of the Linkery to the San Diego dining establishment.

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  Linkery
                                                                                                  3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: jmtreg
                                                                                                    foodiechick RE: jmtreg Jan 10, 2011 01:30 PM

                                                                                                    VEGGIE benedict with BACON. Interesting.

                                                                                                    1. re: foodiechick
                                                                                                      jmtreg RE: foodiechick Jan 10, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                                                                      Well, she wanted the avocado, but didn't want the sausages, so this order worked out both for her tastes, and for sheer irony.

                                                                                                    2. re: jmtreg
                                                                                                      t
                                                                                                      The Office Goat RE: jmtreg Jan 10, 2011 02:27 PM

                                                                                                      We were there for brunch yesterday, too. My kids (4 & 6) split the grilled octopus & eggs (with a side of bacon), my wife had "the classic" (bacon & eggs) and I had the fried chicken and waffle. It was all very tasty. I paid extra attention to my drumstick after DWK's report above, but mine was great. I didn't find it underseasoned at all.

                                                                                                      I rejoice in complex carbohydrates, so their plate-size denser waffle was a welcome surprise (lovers of extra-airy waffles, please pass me yours if it doesn't meet your spec) with great flavor.

                                                                                                      I'd go so far as to say that the fried chicken & waffle was good enough it threatens to become an "anchor" dish for me -- one of those things you keep ordering that keeps you from exploring other items on the menu. One of the charms of the "old" Linkery model was that the menu rotated so fast it was never the same way twice, so you couldn't fall back on your old anchors. It took me out of my "lazy zone" and made me explore things on the menu a bit more. Sure the C&W was smaller than the Hash House version (and lacked a rosemary tree sticking out of it), but the flavors made me happy and it was enough.

                                                                                                      If there was anything to "complain" about it was the first cup of the cafe de olla was not very hot. But this coffee is a "free refills" thing, and served from an uninsulated glass presspot. I think they might have made that initial presspot for a table that finished as we came in and it sat cooling for a minute or two too long. The flavor was still good, and every refill was hot. Anyway, I'd rather drink good "cold" coffee than something that's been burnt on a "warmer" too long any day of the week.

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                                                                                                      Linkery
                                                                                                      3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                      1. re: The Office Goat
                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                        cstr RE: The Office Goat Jan 11, 2011 02:19 PM

                                                                                                        Pretty impressive a 4 & 6 year old sharing grilled octopus & eggs! good gene pool for chow.

                                                                                                        1. re: cstr
                                                                                                          Beach Chick RE: cstr Jan 11, 2011 03:58 PM

                                                                                                          LOL...I was thinking the same damn thing!

                                                                                                          1. re: Beach Chick
                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                            The Office Goat RE: Beach Chick Jan 11, 2011 04:17 PM

                                                                                                            My daughter ate balut when she was two. My son took one look and ran out of the room. ;-) But he has always, always loved sashimi and they both like seafood in general.
                                                                                                            My parents took me to a place called "The Restaurant" overlooking one of the lagoons around Carlsbad(?) a few times when I was a kid in the early 1970s, and I would eat things like snails there. It was great fun and I want to give them the same love of food and restaurants and exposure to different things.

                                                                                                          2. re: cstr
                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                            The Office Goat RE: cstr Jan 11, 2011 04:05 PM

                                                                                                            My kids (get it? kids because I'm a ... oh nevermind) get exposed to a lot of foods, but I can never predict what they'll like. Heck, they're half-filipino and wont eat rice much of the time. What's up with that??

                                                                                                            The grilled octopus at Linkery and ETIE has been very good every time we've had it (it's in the octopus tostada at ETIE). Good flavor and texture. The kids look forward to eating it.

                                                                                                            I hate this thread title. There's plenty of comments in here from people who aren't disapointed, and seeing it pop up is always kind of a downer. If it's to be the official Linkery thread, it'd be nice to be called something like "Official Linkery Thread" and let the comments inside be what they may.

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                                                                                                            Linkery
                                                                                                            3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                            1. re: The Office Goat
                                                                                                              Fake Name RE: The Office Goat Jan 11, 2011 04:27 PM

                                                                                                              WAY agreed. Unfair that one disgruntled "retail consultant" can post twice here but manage to defame a restaurant with each subsequent post.

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