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Red Door Mission Hills

Tried the new Red Door (former Parallel 33 spot) last night. This is their first week.

We had a house margarita, spinach salad, Caesar salad, burger, pork chop, and their special of pork and halibut cheeks. Two glasses of decent wine, the tab was just shy of $100.

We all loved the fries that came with the burger- thin, crisp, hot and just right. The wine was also very good (sorry, can't remember the name).


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  1. How was the special of pork and halibut cheeks?

    Is it open for lunch?

    1. Out with it Fake. Was the food just horrific? How was the service?

      1. It's their first week, and I'm trying to be fair.

        I understand and appreciate they have a significant investment and are taking a big risk opening a new place in a difficult economic environment. And Mission Hills needs a solid-performing local restaurant.

        We are all certainly hopeful that, over the passage of time, they might completely overhaul the menu, the techniques and other choices used in creating the dishes we had (with the exception of the pomme frites).

        The server was very nice.

        I also spent the last two weeks eating our way through France and Italy, so there is always a culinary backlash when returning home.

        3 Replies
            1. They dont even have a proper website. Are they doing a 'soft opening' or are they just rubbish at marketing? Is it just standard boring american fare? Whats the concept? I guess I'm in a bad monday mood, but I'm going to be really disappointed if I see a menu of burger and chips, spinach salad with warm bacon viniagrette and maybe a sysco warm chocolate cake for dessert?

              3 Replies
              1. re: jennywenny

                "maybe a sysco warm chocolate cake for dessert?"

                Boy did this give me a chuckle :-))

                Amiko Gubbins, former chef of Parallel 33, former restaurant in the space being discussed, is now the executive chef for Sysco.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  "is now the executive chef for Sysco." - I thought she is at Specialty Produce in San Diego.

              2. Trying to be as kind as possible. I think CH has become a dumping ground of negative comments, and I'm trying to make our online home a bit more pleasant.

                Trust me, if the situation allowed, I could have written how great the presentation was, the service, the sauces, the sides, atmosphere, the concept behind the cuisine, the whimsy with which the menu was created, and the breakthrough in culinary options the place offers it's clientele. I have all the words, and I have an online dictionary AND thesaurus.

                Instead, I'll say I loved the fries, and remind everybody that there have been restaurants that have had terrible opening weeks, and have successfully made the changes necessary to become a solid performer. We can all hope for the best.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Fake Name

                  "Trying to be as kind as possible."

                  Kindness is great, but is it really in the best interest of everyone?

                  Shoot straight.

                  "I think CH has become a dumping ground of negative comments"

                  The question to ask is are the negative comments unwarranted?

                  I see tons of positivity on chowhound.

                  But then again, I am a glass half full kind of guy.

                2. How many were in your party?

                  Thanks for the intel.

                  1. Fake, your manners are impeccable. You are right, opening a new restaurant in this economic climate is like walking tightrope over a bed of knives.


                    Jenny and Steve- Your concerns are completely warranted. Some Chowhounds might possibly be weathering the times carefully, and we certainly deserve to know the fine print about the places we choose to spend our money.

                    That said, Fake, you have most certainly made your point. "I loved the fries" says it all. Yes, it's standard American fare. Yes, they will have a boring chocolate cake. No, we will not be flocking to this joint for some culinary breakthrough or new "fusion" food.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Dagney

                      "Some Chowhounds might possibly be weathering the times carefully, and we certainly deserve to know the fine print about the places we choose to spend our money."

                      Really. Deserve? Sounds like a false sense of entitlement to me. And doesn't someone who has invested their hard work and money "deserve" a chance to get their doors open and work things out a bit before getting trashed? It's hard to make a business go these days, and I respect that the OP factors that in. Plus I wouldn't go jumping to conclusions on one poster's visit during opening week. But that's just me, your mileage apparently varies.

                      1. re: rotie77

                        "And doesn't someone who has invested their hard work and money "deserve" a chance to get their doors open and work things out a bit before getting trashed?"

                        Maybe yes, maybe no.

                        The more critical our town is, the better the food will be.

                        I have always thought that one thing that drags san diego down (and not just the food scene) is the "everything is so amazing in san diego" naive attitude that we have.

                        Look to any good food city: Paris, Nyc, SF, New Orleans, Chicago, they are all brutally critical.

                        You better come come to the rim strong, or expect to get smacked into the bleachers.

                        (That being said, I hope Red Door is good and succeds. We need more good restaurants in that part of town).

                        1. re: stevewag23

                          The flip side and risk of that is that we run any restaurants out of town that have a glimmer of hope (or scare the up and coming chefs away) and wind up left with chain restaurants.

                          1. re: DougOLis

                            "and wind up left with chain restaurants."

                            Can San Diego really get that much worse in this respect?

                            1. re: DougOLis

                              I doubt that you would scare any chef because you (and a whole city) are very critical. If this would be the case there wouldn't be any restaurants starting in LA, SF or NYC where most people are much more critical than in San Diego. I think in the long term you end up with much less chain restaurants in San Diego if people would be much more critical about restaurants.

                            2. re: stevewag23

                              Thank you Steve. High standards are supposed to good. The Red Door is the brainchild of experienced restauranteurs, they know perfectly well how the cat should be skinned. A high expectation from the local food scene is a compliment we are paying to them, based on their prior experience, not false entitlement.

                            3. re: rotie77

                              If you go to a new auto repair shop would it be OK for you if they don't fix your car completely but make a few small mistakes because they need a little bit more time to "work things out a bit before getting trashed" ? I doubt it. Every new business which interacts with day-to-day customers directly has to be up to speed from the start. And I don't agree with the argument that restaurants are a "special" kind of business (which normally comes up in such discussions). If you start any kind of business better make sure that it works on a very high level from the beginning. There are enough ways to do that.

                              1. re: honkman

                                Honkman, that's not a realistic comparison and you know it. A restaurant doesn't get to keep you until they get it right. An auto repair shop does. There's a reason most critics don't review restaurants right after their doors open. Talk to restaurant owners, and very few, if any, will tell you they can hit the ground running perfectly. Heck, my first meal at Better Half sucked, but the next visit was night and day different.

                                And the sense of entitlement I was talking about was expecting someone else to shell out their hard earned bucks for a meal and feeling you deserve their review. Go shell out your own bucks if you don't like what the review says. Had nothing to do with being entitled to a good meal.

                                1. re: rotie77

                                  Rotie, I think it is a valid comparison because I am looking at the likelihood that a new restaurant or new auto repair shop will survive if they make a lot of mistakes at the beginning. I doubt that you will go back to a new auto repair shop for a second repair job if you have to bring your car several times for the first repair until they get it completely right. And why should it be different with a restaurant. (But I agree that you can be overly critical with any business and the question is where to draw the line). If you talk with people from other cities (or read on the boards) you will see thay they are often very critical (much more than people in San Diego) about a new restaurants from the beginning which makes it harder for the restaurant but helps to define a city as a food destination.

                                  Regarding your second paragraph - I completely agree that it is nice if people report back about restaurants on this board bur there should be no entitlement. So I am not sure if this comment was for somebody else.

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    I agree with honkman. If I am paying for a product, item or service, I do not expect it to be subjective, I want a good product everytime. I once went to Zensi Sushi, and I told the manager that a certain item was not up to par, and he told me that they had a different sushi chef that night. I was not happy and had him refund my money for that item.

                                    He was suprised and reluctant, but I did not get the value that I expected.

                                    A resteraunt is not going to allow me to be subjective with what I pay for an item, so they should not be below par on on what they prepare for me.

                                    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                      I disagree with this line of logic (i.e. restaurants are like a repair shop). Auto repair is a pass/fail venture - the repair is either done or not done. There is no middle ground.

                                      As we all know, food is a matter of taste and opinion. A new restaurant that I do not enjoy on a first visit can, over time, come closer to a taste and style that I prefer or not. And as a creative pursuit, restaurants need time to adapt to the tastes and desires of their clientele in order to become a successful venture. Every one of us has given a new restaurant a second chance because we like the concept, want to support a talented chef or some other reason besides having our socks blown off by a stellar first meal.

                                      Now for the disclaimer...I am not the kind of diner who has to be the first to visit a new place. That's why I read CH. I would never go back to a restaurant that made me sick. I also would probably not return to a restaurant that served me overcooked protein. I do expect a professional job from a team of professionals. YMMV.

                                    2. re: honkman

                                      You are right Honkman, it was addressing my "false sense of entitlement" comment to another poster.

                                      My point about the auto repair is that, if they have any sense, you won't get your car back until the repair is done right. If you have to take it back several times, of course you won't be using them again. A restaurant doesn't have the luxury of keeping you on premises until it's done right. They may only get one or two hours.

                                      Youse guys are a tough crowd!

                            4. We tried Red Door a week after you and, apparently, had a better experience. I thought the menu was similar to Urban Solace, with less of a Southern influence. Highlight was the pork cheeks in puffed pastry with onion marmalade. All of the entrees are priced under $20 and the wine list was interesting and kept to that price point. All of the wines were available by the glass or 1/2 glass, which is a nice. Didn't see a "boring chocolate cake" on the dessert menu, but the banana cream pie looked good. Overall, a good addition to the Mission Hills area.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: TXGSD

                                Atmosphere good?


                                Which night?

                                1. re: stevewag23

                                  Good atmosphere. Dining area is subdivided into smaller rooms, so it doesn;t feel packed in. Bar area is a little small for my taste, but could be considered cozy. They did a good job with a fairly simple/clean remodel.

                                  On a Tuesday night around 8:00 PM the bar area was full and the restaurant seemed to be at least 80% full.

                                  For those who don't want to just snipe from the sidelines, you can go and get an appetizer and a couple 1/2 glasses of wine in the bar for under $20.

                                  1. re: TXGSD

                                    I agree, we were there last night (Wednesday) at 8ish and I was pleasantly surprised to see the dining room half full. I had a ceasar salad and the burger.

                                    I really enjoyed both quite a lot. The ceasar dressing had exactly enough garlic and the burger had grilled onions and some kind of relish on it that was amazing! It was cooked to perfection and the fries that came with it were good as well. For a $12 burger like that we will be back.

                              2. Almost OT: But the Red Door to any intelligent, well-travelled person over 50 (particularly women) would be Elizabeth Arden's beauty salon in NYC- THE beauty destination of the 50s-70s. (Now The Red Door: Elizabeth Arden Spas). Everytime I read the title of this thread, I do a doubletake and wonder what it's doing here. Guess it'll take me a while to try it.

                                1. I took my wife there last night for a quick dinner. The recent Downtown mag had a free entree coupon, so we thought why not. It's a small spot with decent atmosphere for a wine bar. Nothing over $20 on the menu and I believe the most expensive wine was $70 - Ca, Spanish, Argentinian, French vintages. Service was ok, not the greatest but a genuine effort. I felt with practice it'll get better. The food read a little better than it tasted but what they have listed is pretty interesting - their version of surf and turf: scallops and braised pork cheeks. Again, I think their short comings currently are more of "working out the kinks" situation.

                                  We started with shrimp and grits w/brunoise carrots and celery. Had a nice grapa type sauce, was good but was a little lite of the shrimp. Entrees I had their short ribs and mashed potatoes with veggies and a cab reducation sauce. The wife had their maple brined pork chop. The short rib wasn't cooked long enough, it was just about there but not quite. The chop unfortunately for me wasn't too good although my wife liked it. They're playing with too much molassas in whatever they're doing to that dish for me. Dessert we had a bananna cream pie, was ok but not memorable.

                                  I think it's a great resturant and perfect price point for the area. Dinner with free entree coupon was about $65 before tip for 2 and that included a bottle of wine. I wasn't blown away with the food but for the cost (under $100 w/o coupon but paying tip), I'm willing to give it another shot or two as there are a few other menu items I want to try out. There is plenty of easy parking on that side of Washington and getting to the highway (5/163) is a snap. While we were there(7 pm) the place was packed. Definite place for "the girls" to head out to for a few glasses of wine and some apps or a low cost date spot. I recommend trying it for a fun, inexpensive night out but I don't recommend going in there expecting some type of revelation or parting of any major bodies of water.

                                    1. re: stevewag23

                                      My husband and I ALMOST ate there one night. Actually parked the car and walked up to the building. We took one look at the menu and thought, well, pretty boring. So, no, not yet...Fake's review kind of said it all.

                                    2. 3 Stars. They did a very nice, but safe job renovating this place into The Red Door. It looks just like a Restoration Hardware Store with some accessory pillows from Pottery Barn; add a wall of wine and you have The Red Door. I would steer clear of the drink list and stick with the wine. The menu is well thought out and has a nice mix of meat, seafood and veggie options. I believe all entrees are priced under $20. All desserts were priced at $6.50 and easily big enough to share. I had the short ribs, which were very good, but the sauce was a little over-powering. A friend had the flat iron steak and it came out well done instead of medium. Our waiter was very nice but didn't seem to know how to wait on tables. He had a very strong opinion on EVERYTHING. You NOT helpful at all.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: MrBear

                                        "3 Stars" ? - Yoyu are aware that this is not Yelp. And BTW why do you give 3.5 stars on Yelp with the same review and now 3 stars ?

                                      2. went for lunch today with another CHer and will be making plans to go back for either or both happy hour (3pm start) or dinner. the scallop and pork cheek dinner entree was particularly inviting to me. I wasn't quited as "wowed" by the fries as FN but I did enjoy my spinach salad; they disappeared off many menus a while back. I also like any restaurant that will serve 1/2 glasses of wine and took advantage of same for a rose.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: ibstatguy

                                          went back for happy hour with a friend. prices (across the board: lunch, happy hour, dinner) are all quite fair. had the salumi plate, which was excellent, and learned that San Diego has a local salumi producer. went with a Chilean Grenache and was more than satisfied.

                                          1. re: ibstatguy

                                            that would be Knight Salumi. Great stuff, selling like hotcakes, he's doubling the size of his curing facility.

                                            Try his Coppa Molina. Very hot, sent me running for a cold beer, but once the frosty was in my hand, couldn't stop eating it.

                                            1. re: ibstatguy

                                              I tried it recently for dinner and while I agree that the prices are fair, I didn't think that any of the food was impressive. I had the short ribs which seemed like they had either been overcooked or previously cooked because they were more dried out and tougher than other versions that I have had around town. Yes, they were also on the less expensive side but I would rather pay a bit more and get something I really enjoy. The catfish was well cooked but again not a dish that I would rush back for. Also, the service was very spotty. The effort was there at times but the execution was lacking. I have heard good things about their service so maybe that part was an off night.

                                              1. re: sdaints

                                                I'm not sure what else you'd compare it to at those price points; I most certainly would not hold it at the same quality level as Market and other such places that I enjoy. That said, I agree with you on the spotty service (something which frankly plagues many SD restaurants) but as to the food I've eaten thus far, I thought it was quite pleasant and well prepared. Still not a fan of their fries though...

                                                1. re: ibstatguy

                                                  You are right that it is hard to compare to Market but I tried some excellent short ribs at Wine Vault and it was part of a $20 3 course meal. I also had some at Roseville that were part of Restaurant Week so also reasonable. I have been to Cucina Urbana recently and had much more enjoyable experiences for basically the same price point.

                                                  1125 Rosecrans Steet, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                  1. re: sdaints

                                                    went back to Luc's Bistro over the weekend; now THERE'S value.

                                                    1. re: ibstatguy

                                                      Agreed, good food for a good price, one of the best steak pom frites in town. Been looking at you screen name for years trying to figure it out, best I could come up with is:

                                                      a. Statistician from Imperial Beach
                                                      b. A Tattooed guy with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
                                                      c. None of the above

                                                      1. re: stevuchan

                                                        "c"; a friend called me "statguy" as a reference to my encyclopedic knowledge of basically useless information ;-)

                                          2. I tried the Red Door again last Monday and I will say I was pleased with this visit. Definitely better than the last time I stopped by. Service was much better, they had a killer Happy Hour deal - 1/2 off bottles of wine - and the food for the most part was very good, even better when you factor in entrees were under $20 and we had a free entree coupon. For a dumping rain night, the place was packed too which to me was a good sign.

                                            My only gripe is the cooks there can't braise anything to save their rear. My big complaint last time was their short ribs where not cooked long enough, making them not fork tender. The wife rolled the dice with their lamb shank having gone a few other times with friends and never getting or seeing a short rib that was cooked long enough. I knew we might be in trouble on this one. Well surprise, this shank needed a knife to get through in some places. Never a good sign but the polenta with the dish was at least fantastic. However, they had a chicken fried steak special that more than made up for this horrid braising mistake. It was one of the better preparations I've had. Maybe because it was cold and raining helped but damn, it was that good that I thought about going again the next day. We started with their Pork cheeks en croute which was also a very, VERY good app although a bit small. They describe it as pork cheeks, not cheek but for $9 I couldn't complain too much about it. Overall, it was a very good experience minus the braising mishap, I'd go back again for sure but would stay away from anything braised, which is a little sad since its cold around here finally. When you factor in cost, this is a place to definitely check out. There is also a free entree coupon in the new downtown magazine that makes this place even more of a bargain.