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San Diego - one dinner to impress

I'll be in San Diego for work next week and I'm in charge of picking a new, incredible mind blowingly amazing fancy and delicious dinner for my group.

On previous visits we've been to George's at the Cove, The Marine Room, Jack's La Jolla, El Biz, and Mille Fleurs.

I've bookmarked the following restaurants as possibilities. Which would be best? (Or are there are any that I've missed?)

Mr. A's
Kitchen 1540
Restaurant at the Pearl
Whisk n Ladle
Whatever the place at Lodge at Torrey Pines is called

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  1. All on your list will pretty much meet your criteria. That being said, most CH'ers on the list will say ADDISON is the best of all, if price is no object.

    A R Valentien is the place at the Lodge at Torrey Pines.

    1. Dear BaltimoreOriole-- If indeed fancy and expensive are criteria-- I'd scratch Alchemy. (I'd scratch it regardless.) NineTen doesn't feel fancy but is expensive. Whisknladle feels young and hip as does 1540. Tapenade is fancy and expensive and feels like a stodgy French restaurant anywhere. The ARValentien is pretty somber too, except for their Thursday night Artisan Table which is family style and unique, and is outside on their terrace overlooking the golf course and Pacific. They might even seat you together since you're a party, but it's only on Thurs. Everybody raves about Addison. My experience (only one) was not good, and I felt like I was in a Miami dining room designed by Donald Trump. (That may excite your group, but remember Sdiegans are very provincial and get excited about odd things.) If you're in charge of providing a good SD vibe-- i'd go with Whisknladle or Market or 1540.

      1. None of these places is even close to incredible mind blowing amazing fancy etc. (For this type of food I highly recommend driving to LA which isn't too far away) but some of them deliver good food. In terms of food quality I had the best experiences with Cavaillon and George's. Market was disappointing for the price. Alchemy, Restaurant at the Pearl and Whisk n Ladle are OK but nothing special (with Alchemy relatively cheap for the quality they deliver but very inconsistent service. It really depends if Irene is around or not.).

        2 Replies
        1. re: honkman

          I have to agree with honkman on this one oriole. San Diego does not do Ultra-High End. The places that try don't hold a candle to the best of Manhattan, San Francisco, or LA. I love my town, and there is plenty here to keep this foodie happy. I just save my big buck expenditures for out of town food adventures. Urasawa in Beverly hills will fit your criteria. It is transcendent.

          1. re: honkman

            We've been making trips to LA for the same reason, but wait til you have kids.. ;-)

          2. Addison tops the list
            Then AR Valentien at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

            Blanca may still be closed for renovations. They're bringing in a new chef.

            FYI: Jack's closed.

            1. Whisk n Ladle is far from fancy.

              The only place that would fall under "incredible mind blowingly amazing fancy" for me would be Mr.A's because of their view.

              1. Addison would be an excellent pick IF and only if money is not a consideration. Their food and service are seamless.

                Market might be an uneven choice, the food is good, but for a work event, I would not rely to heavily on the quality of service. Their staff consists of casually dressed kids who refer to guests as "guys."

                Tapenade is one my favorite places to eat. The food and service are wonderful, and they are not nearly as expensive as Addison.

                Mr A's is straight up overrated. The view is great and the service os okay, but the food is totally forgettable.

                I would also suggest J Six, in the Gaslamp. They are located in one of the hotels, (the Palm?). Food and service are excellent.

                1. I would do Kitchen 1540 with an advance call to the chef to do a tasting menu.
                  Thier produce and execution of thier regular dishes are superb ..but safe because even though its an expenxive hotel right on the beach in Del Mar its' still a hotel. Given the go the chef can really pull off some great dishes that are more adventursome.

                  My 2 cents

                  1. I second the recommendation to do Kitchen 1540, but with the following supplement: if your group is four or more (and less than around 12) then definitely call ahead, ask for a group tasting menu (with or w/o wine) AND specifically request one of the outdoor cabanas for the dinner. Much quieter than inside. I did this with a group of 8 last July and Chef McCabe put together an exquisite 8 course menu that was as good a meal as I've ever had in S.D.

                    1. Pamplemousse Grille should also be on your list. I have read some very good reviews of Roseville in Point Loma, but no personal experience.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: 4wino

                        I like Pamplemousse Grille but it can be very uneven.

                        Especially for what they charge.

                      2. Mr. A's is owned by the same people who own Mille Fleurs. I have been to both several times, and Mr A's is great. They have increadible views from their roof top location, youy could do cocktails on the patio and watch the sun set and the planes land. Along with some of the greatest food and service, you will be able to see all the way to Mexico and uo the cost as well.

                        1. I ate at Market last night. Had the tasting menu consisting of duck confit salad, white bass crusted with nuts, beef duo with tenderloin and short ribs followed with a sundae for dessert. The sea bass was the highlight, followed by the confit salad. The beef was very good but not exceptional. The food was spot on and the service was fine if a bit informal. If you want good food prepared with fresh local produce and can live with wait staff in blue jeans then I'd recommend it.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Strawman

                            Does Market have now a true tasting menu or is it still their $68 prix fixe menu where you can just choose between different courses ?