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May 28, 2008 01:16 PM

Also disappointed in The Linkery

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. 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

      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

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

        1. re: The Old Man

          Seating Policy from the website:



          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

          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

            "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

              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

                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

              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

              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. 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

                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

                  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

                  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

                    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. 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

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

                    1. re: cookieshoes

                      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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

                                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

                                  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

                                  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?

                                  3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                3. re: cookieshoes

                                  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

                                    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

                                      "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

                                        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

                                          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

                                          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.

                                          3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                          1. re: royaljester

                                            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

                                              "...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

                                                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.

                                                3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                            2. re: cookieshoes

                                              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. 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. 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:

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

                                            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

                                              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

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

                                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                                  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.