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Blind Lady Ale House -- I don't get it

It's loud. It's cold. It's crowded. Service is minimal and not particularly welcoming. The salads are atrocious. The same beers can be had elsewhere, with larger pours for less money. The pizzas are unique -- but every time I eat one, I think to myself, "Brunos is better"

I don't get it. What's the draw?

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  1. By the sound of it, could the draw be the salads?

    1. For me, the draw is being able to good quality pizza with a wide selection of excellent craft beer. Seems rather straightforward not to understand.

      Do you dislike the pizza at BLAH or just like Bruno's better? You certainly cannot get the wide selection of beer that they have at Bruno, or the quality of pizza that they have at BLAH at other beer bars. While the salads were not incredible, I have never had anything there that I would describe as "atrocious" - perhaps you would care to elaborate?

      I think the temperature problem may just be you. Last time I was there I was uncomfortably hot. Wish I could disagree more about the service, which I found to be hit or miss, but generally in line with the service at the other beer bars around town.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JRSD

        I'd say the service is as good as one could expect given how busy they are. I don't know what people expect, but they don't have a huge number of employees, and it's often very busy. I also don't get the larger pours comment. The 500cL beers are fractionally larger than a pint, and since there's extra head space you actually do get a full-sized serving.

        1. re: Josh

          Yeah, less money might be true (they are on the higher end of the beer bars), but the pour size seems inline.

        2. re: JRSD

          agreed. It's more about the sum of the parts than the individual aspects. The pizza at Bruno might be slightly better (but not by a ton) and Toronado might have more beers, but the combination of the 2 is what brings the value. Nothing against Toronado or Bruno, just a slightly different niche.

          1. re: DougOLis

            I don't agree re: the pizza. I think Bruno's pizza is better by far. I wouldn't choose BLAH for the pizza, like you said I'd choose it for its unique combination.

        3. I had a friend complain about it in a similar way (I have yet to go but am eager). He was upset at the service, the crowd, and the inability to find a place to eat his pizza. My answer? You went to a bar to eat at 7pm on a Friday. what do you expect? Let's be honest...If you are looking for a nice quiet place to sit and eat your food...maybe a bar on a busy night isn't the right place. Mind you most restaurants will go on a "wait" when they get busy...not bars. It's first come first serve and the servers are spread thin.
          As well I can certainly understand how frustration can greatly hamper your mood and thus perception of the food you might otherwise enjoy.

          And the draw is the Beer and the pizza. Maybe you can find the same beers other places for less...but likely they have a crowd their too. And perhaps you can find better pizza....and Bruno's I'm sure has it's draw. But can you find both in one place...without a crowd?

          1. The draw is, you go early to grab a table and some dinner, stay late and get raucous over a pitcher and the crazy E.T. card game with your friends until they close.

            1. What draws me is great beer and great pizza. The down side is that lots of other people want great beer and pizza, and that can make it loud and not very welcoming. If the owners had a clue, they would serve lousy beer and pizza, thus reducing the crowds and making it quieter and more welcoming.

              1. I guess my point is that I find the pizza okay, but not all that remarkable. I can get the same excellent beer elsewhere. And everything else about the experience is generally unpleasant, including the other food offerings.

                5 Replies
                1. re: notjustastomach

                  Sorry you didn't enjoy the place. I was there last night and had a fine time drinking some Alpine Duet and enjoying the braised greens and the Farmer's Potato and Artichoke pizza (what a pleasant surprise that pizza was!). They also had Wipeout on tap, which was nice. I've also had the House Chorizo pizza which I liked very much. Next time will be the Egg and Bacon pizza.

                  They do their pizzas a little different, which I like. The "weirdness" in the ingredients (that is, compared to what most other places in town do) is a nice alternative, which makes for enough of a well-rounded "you can only get it here" type of combination when you pair the food with the craft beers they have on tap (i.e. Alpine/Port for me). There are enough places in town doing the burger/beer thing, which is fine. And Pizza Port has the family-style pizza w/ house beers setup locked down. So Blind Lady has a nice spot within the larger mix of places around town doing what they do.

                  It can get crowded in there. When we arrived at about 7:00pm it was just about full. Someone had just left, so we got a table. But by 7:45, there were several large groups waiting around and the place had every table full. But, that was due to the larger groups taking up entire tables. But the crowd was about the same that one would expect at any of the regular spots in town at that hour. In any case, we did notice a few pairs enter the place, look around, and then leave because they didn't want to wait. But, again, that's normal for any bar that gets crowded.

                  The service for us was fine. Order at the bar, take a number, wait for food to be brought to table. Our food came out pretty quick, and the people busing the empty plates and glasses after each round we had were on it.

                  1. re: cookieshoes

                    I go to Bruno for a nice meal with family or a small group of friends for excellent pizza and decent beer.

                    I go to Blind Lady with large groups of friends for decent pizza and excellent beer.

                    I happen to like both places very much, but each has their purpose....

                  2. re: notjustastomach

                    If your not a fan of the Pizza, then there really would be no draw to go. (plenty of other places with good beer, less crowded). But if the pizza does strike a chord, which it does with some people....then the beer plus the pizza is the draw. Kind of like Hodad's....some love it...some think it's average at best...to each his own I suppose.

                    1. re: csils

                      Hodad's:Blind Lady is a horrible comparison

                  3. I go to BLAH for their beer selection. If I want great pizza I go to Sicilian thing on 30th. I do wish BLAH would offer some sports on the TV, a little Basketball would not hurt.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                      Actually I have been a little dismayed with Sicilian Thing the last couple of times I have gone; the cheese pizza seems like it has lost flavor. I don't know if they switched to cheaper cheese or what. I love that place too (it's great after Toronado) so I hope it is just a temporary thing.

                      1. re: stevewag23

                        both salads I had there were excellent-so i'm surprised by your comment. especially the persimmon salad they had in december-incredible

                      2. Went to BLAH last night, around 6pm. It was busy, but not oppressively so. Some friends got their earlier (5:30) so we had a place to sit. Food was off the hook. We didn't have pizza, but instead had a charcuterie plate and the fried green tomato and onion appetizer.

                        WOW. The house-made terrines were delicious, and the homemade kraut with coriander was an impressive touch. Fried green tomatoes absurdly good.

                        Nice beer selection too, with some unusual beers on tap.

                        My friends and I joked about this thread on here. BLAH is a great place to have in San Diego.

                        1. I have been to BLAH twice and will never go back. The reason? The absurd lack of a system for seating. I've had pizza go cold on me twice while waiting for 45 mins to an hour after ordering to try to find a place to sit to eat it. And we were just looking for two seats anywhere together. Meanwhile, the staff lets obnoxious people who are a) not eating or b) finished eating half an hour ago, camp out at tables as long as they want. They really need to fix this. I tell everyone I know not to bother with going there. Sure the pizza and beer are good, but only foolish hipsters with Stockholm syndrome would think the seating system is appropriate to a restaurant this busy.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: southparkguy

                            ' but only foolish hipsters with Stockholm syndrome would think the seating system is appropriate to a restaurant this busy'


                            1. re: southparkguy

                              I agree that seating is a bitch there (and nearly impossible on weekend nights), but are you really suggesting that they kick people out of their tables? How would you feel about a restaurant telling you to leave? Especially if you were still drinking. No restaurant should ever push someone out.

                              Your pizza going cold problem sounds like it's as much on you as them. Don't order it until you have a table or at least a table lined up with someone who is leaving soon. Seems like common sense to me.

                              I'd love to be able to make a reservation or at least be put on a list for a table there, but they don't do it that way (like most bars) so you just kind of have to deal with it. And given that it is always busy, they probably don't have a lot of motivation to change.

                              1. re: southparkguy

                                whew, thankfully you are never going back so we can sit and enjoy our beers without seeing Mr. Aggro getting all worked up about nowhere to sit.

                                It's open seating, like most bars and pizza places, and I am just fine with it. If you don't like crowds don't go duing the typically busy times.

                                1. re: southparkguy

                                  Just to bump this - they have added a second room, and they have a couple of communal tables and some stand up bar space, so seating shouldn't be as much of a problem now.

                                  Generally, I find it a little irritating that you can't order more food or beer after you're seated without standing in line - but we just go a little early on weeknights and have no problems. I love their apps, and think their pizza has gotten better with time. The Salciccia is my favorite.

                                  1. re: Alice Q

                                    I love what they are doing, from the food to the beer but I always thought that they should have a couple of " cocktail" servers walking the room and taking food and drink orders from guests that are already eating...I understand the whole concept of ordering at the counter but once I seat down and eat, I do not necessary want to go back up in line. From a guest standpoint, it is annoying and not convenient. From a business standpoint, I am sure that they are losing sales... They could easily sell a few more pizzas and beers every night and it would pay for the extra labor... ( you are talking about what? 1 or 2 employees at $8/ hour? well maybe a little more since they are probably not going to get tipped so let's say $12-14... )

                                2. I have no issue with the seating setup (since seat-yourself is quite common in many pubs and pizza shops - which is what Blind Lady is).

                                  I do want to add that the salads seem to have grown to twice their original size...noticed the heaping plates the last few times we have gone.

                                  I still don't like the beer pricing though!

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: MrKrispy


                                    Yeah. Their beer pricing is a bit odd. Saying I need to pass Toronado, Ritual and others on my way to BLAH, I usually get sidetracked for the cheaper beer and full pints. And the last few times I've been I haven't been too impressed with the taps. For pizza, I'm going to Bruno's.

                                    I think what BLAH does is perfect for what they set out to do. There are just other better closer places that can take care of me just as well.

                                    1. re: Ewilensky

                                      Full pints? BLAH serves most beers in a half-liter, which is actually a bit more than a pint.

                                      Agreed on the pizza, though.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        The beers I recall came in 12 oz pilsner glasses, stanges or goblets at close to full pint price, or in some cases, past full pint prices at some of the other 30th st. establishments.

                                        I've only once ordered a beer there and received a .5 L Weizen glass - and it was a Pliny the Elder, which isn't what you really use a weizen glass for in the first place. (Wasn't complaining)

                                        Are you requesting a .5 L glass when ordering? Have a secret handshake? Cool haircut? Because if it's your haircut, I'm totally screwed.

                                        1. re: Ewilensky

                                          Most of the beers at BLAH come in the 0.5L glasses (which is more than a US pint but less than a British imperial pint; slightly off topic). Some of the higher alcohol content and/or more robust beers may be served in tulips or other style glasses as appropriate. In any event, the volume served is listed on the chalkboard just next to the price. Funny this should come up today because the "Honest Pint" certification is the topic on their blog.


                                          Hope that helps!!!

                                          1. re: steveprez

                                            When I go it seems a good chunk of the beer menu is served in 25cl amounts (8oz?) but still priced at $5-6. The same beer for the same price is served at 10-12 oz at other local beer bars, which is why I gripe about the beer pricing.

                                            To be truthful, it isn't just "higher alcohol content or robust" beers, they are frequently lower ABV sours or lighter Belgian styles just as often as higher ABV Belgian or IPA. These beers cost more wholesale so I understand the price difference, but I seem to get more for my money at other locations. Just not great pizza along with my bigger pours! :)

                                            Regardless, I love being able to get Speedway Stout on draft regularly.

                                          2. re: Ewilensky

                                            The board is marked. Some beers are 25cl, others are .5L. Most are .5, in my experience.

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              On occasion, the beers poured in 25cl portions are the majority. And sometimes the prices for the small pours do seem a bit high.
                                              However, I really appreciate the fact that BLAH tells you how much you'll get and the price; at several other local beer bars it seems the portion size is completely random, and you only find out when the glass is in your hand.

                                    2. Never been there myself, but read all about the place before it opened. The proprietor is supposed to be one of the master brewers from Stone Brewery and the place is supposed to highlight the beers more than anything else in the sense that it provides all stainless-steel lining/hosing and its supposed to be one of the most direct keg to glass services in San Diego providing the most pure tasting beers.

                                      But then again, I've never been there so... :-/

                                      1. I went there once and I had enough. The salad was horribe. But the one that turned by stomach was the dirty, very dirty, mechanic like nails of the person who brought us the food. Talk about a loss of appetite. Beer was fine, but I am not a beer enthusiast. But food was as shitty as you can get.