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Soho (North Park)

Just returned from our usual Friday night dinner out. We tried SoHo at El Cajon & 30th St. and were VERY pleased. It has taken over the space formerly occupied by Vesuvio Gourmet. This is our neighborhood and we had a Community Magazine 2for1 coupon, so we thought we'd give it a try. I checked the board and didn't find anything about it, so we walked in cold. We left very happy!
We started with the poquillo peppers $6.50. They were stuffed with some yummy goat cheese mixture and served with toasted baguette slices and roasted garlic. While we waited, some flatbread, seasoned with zatar and oil was delivered. It was a nice, unusual touch. The have a wood burning pizza oven which was featured in several dishes.
We followed up the appetizer with 2 Meyer beef entrees. The Morrocan spiced flatiron steak, sliced thick over israeli couscous was delicious, tender and flavorful. The spice was there but not overpowering. The other entree, one of the items recommended by our server, was the short ribs. Again very tender meat, well-flavored and served with a house-made goat cheese tomato and greens tamale. There is creativity and skill at work in this kitchen.
Even the decaf coffee was good! The only disappointment was the biegnets--too heavy. Next time we'll save room for the bread pudding and try the Carlsbad mussels and maybe a veggie pizza. The prices are fair--the beef dishes at $18.95 were their highest priced entrees. I'd like to see them make it, but they need more volume.

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Vesuvio Gourmet
3025 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

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  1. We returned for a second visit tonight. Great again! I am sorry to see so little interest on the board for this new restaurant. The mussels were steamed in an excellent wine and chorizo sauce, spiced with harrissa. Great salmon dish with smoked tomatoes and my chicken stuffed with chorizo and glazed with tamarind was also a winner. They are still struggling which is a shame because the menu is small but interesting and out of 8 dishes we've tried all but the dessert biegnets were excellent. They are currently in the community coupon magazine--give em a try! I think they beat Urban Solace, Linkery and Vagabond (early days)!

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    Linkery
    3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

    Urban Solace Restaurant
    3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

    14 Replies
    1. re: Ms. Verde

      We had a meal there recently and it really was quite good. I agree that it's better that Linkery and Urban Solace. I think the lack of interest is because of the location. It also looks too much like Vesuvio's, they didn't change the look very much, so that perhaps that keeps people away.

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      Linkery
      3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

      Urban Solace Restaurant
      3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

      1. re: Ms. Verde

        How does a place serving corn-fed beef beat the Linkery? Not exactly a like comparison, IMO.

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        Linkery
        3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

        1. re: Josh

          Maybe this thread will give you some insight as to why Linkery has it's issues. Just because some place serves commodity whatever vs one that doesn't isn't justification to say it's better, except in your world. You are an early adaptor of a trend which is OK but, to dis a place because it doesn't meet your narrow view shows that you are limited to the confinds of your own bubble. Don't fall off your high horse too hard. Here's the thread enjoy the read:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5234...

          1. re: cstr

            I didn't say one is better than the other anywhere in my comment. I'm just asking how can they be compared when they're playing on different fields?

            1. re: Josh

              I don't see why they are playing on different fields ? Dividing restaurants only by their source of products is too limiting. Independently if the beef is corn-fed or grass-fed both restaurants play in the same field in terms of execution in the kitchen, creativity of the chef and service. Different people have different opinions about the importance of the different categories but I don't see any problems to compare both restaurants. Botyh restaurants play on the same field in three out of four cases.

              1. re: honkman

                I can't help but see it differently. To me, sourcing of ingredients represents a pretty dramatic and stark difference between restaurants. To draw an analogy with beer, you could say that Yard House is more impressive than Hamiltons Tavern because they have 100+ taps. But Hamiltons' owner goes to the trouble of contacting small breweries far outside of our market to bring in beers that are simply not found here. I would argue that there's really no way to compare the two venues because what they do is so dramatically different.

                If you're ordering your ingredients from a standard wholesaler who gets produce and meats from wherever (i.e. commodity foodstuffs), then to me that's fundamentally different from buying things grown and raised on small, independent farms.

                In other words, while both places are ostensibly doing "the same thing" (serving food to diners), they do so as faces of dramatically different supply chains. To say that this doesn't matter is to miss the point.

                To put it yet another way, can Laja be compared to anyplace else in San Diego? I would say absolutely not, because there is no other place in San Diego that exclusively serves food from the surrounding environment.

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                Hamiltons Tavern
                1521 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102

                Yard House Restaurant
                1023 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                1. re: Josh

                  I don't think it doesn't matter. But at the same time even if food is sourced from non-commodity places and it is not well executed or not cooked in a creative way it is still bad food. I sometimes feel that people are willing to forgive restaurant not well executed food because it is differently sourced.
                  And yes, I think places liek Laja can be compared to places in SD or the French Laundry etc. It is not all about sourcing (even though it is an important part of the restaurant business). Or are you willing to overlook average food just because it is sourced "better" or "more difficult".

                  1. re: honkman

                    I totally agree that sourcing doesn't turn bad food into good food. No argument there at all.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Gee, I'm glad my second post got interest going. As to comparing corn fed vs. grass fed beef, commodity vs locally sourced, my comparison was based on taste and creativity, period. I have been repeatedly disappointed with the taste of the food at the Linkery. I applaud their efforts to find local sources. My complaint would be as to execution. They tout their sausage, yet I have yet to taste one of theirs that I liked as well as a Johnsonville brat. They have all been dry. I am glad to see the Linkery with a lively business going, but their food just hasn't captured me.

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                      Linkery
                      3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                      1. re: Ms. Verde

                        Excellent point to my post, the source of a food product is pretty meaningless if the crew behind the stove can't execute and produce something that tastes great. When I look to choose a resto, I look at the finished product that comes out on my plate. If it's meh, regardless of whether it's organic, sustainable or grass-fed it's MEH! Improve it if you want my patronage.

                        1. re: Ms. Verde

                          I agree I think they go a little over board listing where every single thing comes from on the menu. They are focusing more on the sourcing then the execution like many have said. I'm OK spending a little more for local but the product has to justify the means and in the Linkery's case I do not think it does.

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                          Linkery
                          3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                          1. re: SDGourmand

                            I think that the Linkery has improved a lot over the last two years regarding the execution and creativity in the kitchen. For us it is some of the better food you can get in SD for that price point.

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                            Linkery
                            3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                          2. re: Ms. Verde

                            I would say right now the food has really improved and the links are amazing. I am sorry that you haven't had the opportunity to try them at their greatness.

                            1. re: Ms. Verde

                              I live only 3 blocks from the Linkery. I wanted to like The LInkery I applaud the efforts at local sourcing of food. So, I thought it was just me, but the times I had Linkery sausages I thought they were dry and bland, certainly not horrible but not worth the extra cost. and now, gasp, I read, others feel the same way!! So, it appears that must maybe The Linkery is a case of "The Emperor's New Clothes."

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                              Linkery
                              3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

            2. Walked by this place last night and thought it was a bar....thanks for the posts we will check it out next time.

              1. To get things back on track :) Tried Soho tonigt & was VERY happy. Both entrees were excellent & service was good. Yes Vesuvio was a funky space, but I think they have made the best of it. The second you walk in you forget that the noise of El Cajon Blvd is outside the door. We actually went based on a rave review from the people running Park 2 Park shuttle (who now have a stop there BTW)

                1. We've been there 3 times so far. The space is funky...not much ambiance to speak of...but the food has been great. We've tried most of the small plates, for us, the arepa was the clear winner - took one bite and declared that we would need at least 2 more plates! The piquillo peppers mentioned above are also superb. The one sort of boring thing that I really wanted to like was the black-eyed pea cake. The salsa that it comes with is great, but the cake itself was rather underseasoned.

                  The service has been spotty. The first two times, it was great. I believe one of the owners or managers was serving us. The last time, it was a bit less professional, but hey, we are always with the kids eating early, about 5:30, so the "A-team" is probably not even there yet. If you go early, they have great specials on wine and small plates. Hence, we have not actually eaten any of the main courses, just made dinner out of the small plates.

                  BL, I love the food here, but if I am in the mood to go "out", I want more atmosphere. But you can't beat the happy hour specials and so this will continue to be a week day treat.

                  1. I've been curious about the place since it opened, actually. Nice to see a review.

                    We actually stepped inside to say hi to some friends that were dining there last weekend, and I have to say, the food looked good. I'll have to check it out soon.

                    1. Also finally gave this place a try last night with their 2-for-1 coupon from the uptown community coupon mag. Tuesday night is also 1/2 price off any bottle of wine (can't combine discounts, so we had to choose, picked the coupon), though the wine list is pretty uninteresting. The complimentary flatbread and the salmon dish with smoked tomatoes were the winners of the night. I was less crazy about the flatiron steak with couscous, mostly because of the overly sweet oily sauce on the couscous,the steak itself was fine. Next time we go we'll skip getting the house salad which was pretty ordinary. All in all promising.

                      1. A nice write up in the UT about SOHO. I still haven't made it there, hopefully soon

                        http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/20...