Excellent "under the radar" spot downtown
Currant Brasserie at the Sofia Hotel on Broadway downtown has to be the best restaurant in the U.S. that is next door to a Greyhound Bus Station.
According to management, the restaurant has gone through five different iterations since the upscale Sofia replaced the old Pickwick Hotel three years ago. I dined there soon after it opened in '07 and was unimpressed. Had a two-for-one coupon from a local community magazine and went for dinner tonight and loved it.
The new management has been in charge for ten months now. They've created a French Brasserie feel and have a menu to match. I know of nothing in the downtown area with such a varied and enticing menu outside of Cafe Chloe. And the seating at Currant is much more comfortable.
The menu includes Steak and Frites, Duck Cassoulet, Mussels with choice of sauces, Braised Short Rib, Steak au Poivre, beer can chicken, lamb Bolognese with papperdelle, duck confit salad, etc There's a separate Bar Menu with most items around $11.00 and a nightly Happy Hour with generous hours. Decor inside very comfortable in a Parisian brasserie kind of way.
The staff is VERY eager to please; all servers very professional and pleasant. The Chef and restaurant mgr came by our table separately to introduce themselves and see how things were.
My wife and I shared two large apps--the duck confit salad and fried calamari. Our entrees were the cassoulet and short rib. Everything was very good. The calamari came sprinkled with a few capers which sounded weird to us but totally worked. The duck in both the salad and cassoulet was extremely flavorful. We love duck and just can't find it much downtown.
This place is several blocks away from the Gaslamp bustle. There's street parking and valet. Just the ticket, I would think, if you're coming downtown for an event and want to avoid the mediocrity of the Gaslamp eateries. We'll definitely be going back.
140 W Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
Went to Currants last night and was fairly unimpressed. Tried the artisan's platter which includes their own charcuterie (duck was featured) and three imported cheeses. The charcuterie was OK but not on the same level as what I've had at whisknladle. My wife had the pumpkin soup starter but said it lacked the sweet taste that one usually expects in a pumpkin dish.
Entrees were the cassoulet and the mushroom risotto with white truffle essence. The skin on the duck was perfectly crisp but the duck wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped and the beans were very bland. The risotto wasn't bad but my wife thought the battered/fried mushrooms (a la tempura) that topped the dish were out of place.
Dessert was the profiteroles. The homemade ice cream was good but the pastry part had been made *well* in advance and were cold and chewy rather than room temp and flaky.
Our waitress (Ann) and the rest of the wait staff were the highlight of the visit. Very attentive but not over-doting. Ann answered all of our questions flawlessly and was very pleasant.
I agree that it's probably the best restaurant in the U.S. next to a bus station but it's not enough to make me want to return.
I've had both great and terrible meals at Currant, thanks for letting us know it's on the upswing again. I like the environment there.
I had a very nice cassoulet at Urban Kitchen a couple months ago. In fact, a very nice meal altogether and the place was vacant. It was a weeknight and a rainy one at that. But I though it was a shame.