San Diego Recs needed for this weekend
I will be in SD this weekend and needed some restaurant recommendations. There's plenty of fine dining in LA where I am from, so I am trying to look for places that are hole in the wall or a bit less pretentious.
I will be having a meal in Little Italy - thinking of going to Indigo Grill or Buon Apetito- any preferences?
also considering Cafe Chloe which i have been before and it was good. really loved the intimate casual setting.
Thanks in advance!
Review for Better Half:
The Better Half was recommended by many reviewers to be a quaint bistro that delivers comforting French fare. I decided to give this place a try and wanted to take advantage of their "Blue Plate" prix fixe menu: $20 for a 3-course meal! Sadly, when we got there, the hostess said that the orders had to be in to the kitchen by 6pm sharp (even though on their website, it said 5-7 pm) so they didn't even let us see the menu... that was pretty irritating! Explanation- the time for the special was changed this week to 5-6 pm. To me, a good restaurant not only needs to have good eats, but good service. If it's listed on the website, it really should be honored... nevertheless, I gave them the benefit of the doubt that the meal will salvage my initial impressions of the place.
Since this restaurant is known for the wide selection of their half bottles of wine, we decided to order rather than bring our own wine. Highly recommended by the waiter, we ordered the 2003 Chateau Fonbadet, a bordeaux. Bold, strong, nice oaky flavors, but lacked in a long aftertaste... for bold, full-bodied wines, I still prefer my Syrahs (or Shiraz...).
The amuse bouche was whipped chevre cheese topped with chipotle orange marmalade in a miniature pastry cup. The fluffiness of the cheese didn't make it too rich and heavy, and the chipotle marmalade have it a nice kick!
Gnocchi with Shrimp and Calamari:
This was the seafood special of the day and it was a disappointment. The gnocchi was too dense and felt like globs of dough. Although the shrimp and calamari were not overcooked, they hardly gave you enough to eat... best part of the dish was the seafood sauce- it reminded me of a lobster bisque...
Mushroom Tomato Risotto in a Red Wine Sauce:
Al dente risotto cooked in a red wine sauce enveloped small diced pieces of mushrooms and carrots. Unlike most risottos which are white wine-based, the earthier flavor of the red wine blends well with the mushrooms. However, I still prefer my risottos with white wine... but that's just my personal preference.
Needless to say, The Better Half was not one of the better meals I've had in SD. From the service to the entrees, it was sub par. Perhaps we ordered the wrong dishes (both dishes were from the daily specials), or we came on an off night, or the bad service in the beginning put a dent in the whole experience... or our expectations were too high, but I left that dinner dissatisfied and found myself eyeing on the lasagnas a block away at Arrivederci.
Pictures are posted on:
Cucina Urbana...used to be the old Laurel....we went Friday....very cool...very cheap..very good...kind of Italian Californian...pizza bar....wines are really cheap..i think they do retail pricing or such..we started with a little mason jar of chicken liver pate...pretty damn good(i don't like liver)..she had a mushroom pizza..she said it was tasty.....i had this huge pork chop milanese...really simple with arugula salad & marinated artichokes.(i'm reading from the menu i stole)...but really nice......oh and get the fregolata? (i didn't steal the dessert menu)...it's pretty awesome...we got out of there for about $70....any way you can tell this place will catch on quick....they need Peroni on tap though..
Oh here goes cgfan again recommending Kaito Sushi... :-)
But it's true - that's the first thing I thought of when reading your post. It's hole in the wall, they don't advertise, there's barely any signage, it's family run, it's small, it specializes in Edo-mae sushi, everything is traditionally prepped every day before service including the filleting of the Anago [a rarity just about anywhere in the U.S.], it's by far the best that San Diego County has to offer, and can deliver a memorable experience that you will cherish if you are fond of traditional sushi.
If sushi is in the cards for you, than a trip up to Encinitas for KS is recommended. (BTW best days for selection are Tuesdays and Fridays, followed by Wednesdays and Saturdays...) Lately hour-long waits for the bar has been more and more common, but it'll be worth it!
Time to report back... I blogged my dining experiences in my blog:
Here is the brief recap:
Cafe Chloe - great intimate little gem with great food
Better Half- ok food, but disappointing service
Extraordinary Dessert - Extraordinary presentation
Hot Dogs @ 428 - hit the spot after a late night in Gaslamp
Bandar- good solid Persian food
Not all the reviews are up yet... but most of it is... will report back when all the posts are up on the blog.
thanks for all the recommendations fellow chowhounds!
I'm going to be visiting SD this weekend and next week as well.
Just wanted to drop in some place links to help me navigate.
721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Dobson's Bar & Restaurant
956 Broadway Circle, San Diego, CA 92101
3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104
127 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
4090 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
1609 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
Farm House Cafe
2121 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
Blind Lady Ale House
3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA
3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103
1731 India St, San Diego, CA 92101