Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Aug 23, 2010 09:31 AM

Cosmopolitan - Old Town

We went to check out The Cosmopolitian in Old Town last Sunday. We had gone to a function earlier in the day, so we really were not that hungry. We split a couple of apps. and soups. First of all, they really did a beautiful job of restoring the building. It was getting a bit war weary and the end of the Bandini days. The outside may still be a bit sterile, but once the plants fill in, it should be very nice. The place wasn't too crowded, It seemed like there was more action over at Fiesta de Reyes. The crowd was mellow, except for one drunk dude at the outside bar. There was a piano player put in the patio playing old-timey tunes and it was not obtrusive and a nice background fill in. I had the white corn soup, Very corny flavor, with out a lot of filler. It was blended woth whole kernals added. Mrs. LS had the gzapacho. it had bits of squash and avocado added. very good flavor. We then split the clams and mussels. It was in a clar broth with Spanish Chorizo added. I liked it. I thgought the chorizo added a kick to the shellfish, it was too salty for my S.O.. The service was polished. I am ready to give it another try and see what Amy can do with the entrees.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for the report. I've been kinda wondering it. Will probably make it down there in September.

    1. I'm glad you had a positive first experience there. I really wanted to love this place because I am a fan of the Chef and her menu intrigued me. Unfortunately, we had such awful service issues on our first visit (we didn't even stay long enough to receive our first beverage - 20 minutes+), that we will never go back. I know our reaction is harsh and unfair to the Chef, but if you can't get service right you've got nothing.

      11 Replies
      1. re: foodiechick

        You know that may be a problem with the restaurant. It was maybe 10 minutes before the server got to us, and he was super apologetic about being late. He was the bartender and he was dealing with the above mentioned drunk. He ended up comping us for our drinks and we were really suprised because we were not upset. We were having fun reviewing the menu and seeing what other people were getting (there was a big party a couple of tables away).

        1. re: littlestevie

          I believe that restaurants should ask patrons whether they are out for a leisurely meal or want to eat quickly. Sometimes I don't mind chatting with friends and taking two hours for three courses, and sometimes I want to have the same three courses bought and paid for in 30 minutes. When I am in a rush, don't make me wait! When I am out for a long night of eating, don't bring my main course before my appetizer is even finished!

          1. re: notjustastomach

            And, I should have added . . . if the dinner is spendy enough, the server should make sure s/he knows which mood I'm in, and accomodate it. If s/he lacks the sensitivity to do so without asking, then by all means find some way to ask about the pacing that will make me happy.

            1. re: notjustastomach

              "I believe that restaurants should ask patrons whether they are out for a leisurely meal or want to eat quickly" - I think the customer shouldn't expect that the server has to find what pacing the customer wants but the customer should mention it when ordering. If the customer doesn't mention anything regarding pacing the restaurant should assume that you want a "normal" pacing.

              "...sometimes I want to have the same three courses bought and paid for in 30 minutes. When I am in a rush, don't make me wait!" - Based on several discussions with restaurants regarding the best pacing and how kitchen can accomodate it most chefs/owners have no problem if you want your dishes slower than normal but it creates a lot more problems in the kitchen if you want it much faster than normal and can't always be accomodated.

              ",,,don't bring my main course before my appetizer is even finished!" - Couldn't agree more and unfortunately one of the biggest service issues I have seen in San Diego.

              1. re: honkman

                I'm not into 3 hour dinners, my butt would be numb, but no no do not bring my main course before my app is finished! It's a service issue everywhere and I hate it too, especially when the table is tiny and there isn't room without shifting stuff around. So tacky.

                I have no desire to try the Cosmopolitan. Not an area I will ever associate with fine dining. It's tourist and will always be, which is OK, it is what it is, but no longer for me now that the main drag is chock full of shops selling trinkets. I miss the Old Town of 15+ years ago when it was more contained, festive and colorful centered around the Bazaar Del Mundo in it's original location and the Casa de Bandini's floral filled patio. It was a nice area to take out of town visitors or meet up for happy hour and enjoy a marg outdoors. It may be more authentic (there's that word again) now, but I'm not diggin the dusty drab Old West theme.

                1. re: Island

                  The bustle dresses (costumes) are an insult to the senses. GAH!

                  1. re: Island

                    I was the biggest fan of CdB and I am very happy that it is Carlsbad now. It is so much closer to my home. But it was touristy Mexican, which I liked. I am just happy that Delaware North is out. Just because the Cosmopolitan is in a touristy area does not mean it can't have fine food. There are fine dining places in the Gaslamp, such as Cowboy Star or out on Coronado, such as 1500 Ocean. Now it remains to be seen if this will work in Old Town, and I guess time will tell. As to the dress and decor, the State of California Parks System gave them restrictions along those lines, and I really think the current lease holders are trying their best.

                    1500 Ocean
                    1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118

                    1. re: littlestevie


                      Somebody who actually knows what happened down there. The stories are all very interesting and so few actual facts have made it to the surface. Delaware North has been blasted for the whole deal, but the enemy is us down there. State of California.

                2. re: notjustastomach

                  It wasn't paced slow or fast on our visit. It was nothing. Place was pretty much empty at 1pm on a weekday. There was a dedicated bartender at the outdoor bar not far from where we were seated. A server took our beverage orders. 20 minutes later nothing...not even water. Manager was not apologetic, when we got up to leave, and explain why, drinks still not delivered, they still wanted us to pay for unpoured glasses of wine.

                  1. re: foodiechick

                    they had the nerve to want to charge you for waiting 20 minutes for drinks not delivered and unpoured..
                    frigging unbelievable!

                  2. re: notjustastomach

                    I second that 100%! Kudos on this idea. Not synching with the diners' pace is an ongoing problem with many servers and pretty much sometimes I just chalk it up to them not being intuitive enough to understand the needs of a table of patrons psychically! That isn't fair of me. Your idea is a great key to wonderful service. If the server were to ask right off the bat everyone has just communicated what pace, style and ambiance is expected.

              2. I don't think the establishments can be expected to read our minds. It's up to us to let them know the pace we prefer. As mentioned in a previous post, we all have different desires at different times. I don't know of any decent place that is not willing to pace a meal as asked by the patron. It's just like your steak- rare, well done, just ask.

                I'll share a story. We were dining in France last month with another non-American couple. Spendy place, Michelin star(s) etc. We were seated on a nice patio with a great view of Provence. And we waited for service. And waited. And waited some more.

                Our European friends commented that while they're aware how irritating American-style service can be (Hi! I'm Sally, and I'll be taking carreee of yewww like, totally tonight) they often wished for a healthy dash of that style in France.

                No, it's not just a different style. Yes, I am aware that in Europe (even Berlin!) people spend hours luxuriating over meals- believe me, we do that. This is a simple paucity of service.

                There are notable exceptions:


                but overall,as a grand generalization, I found service in Europe to be lacking.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Fake Name

                  In August, in the south of France, in the harbour at St. Jean Cap Ferrat, French families on vacation spend three plus hours dining on the patios of the restaurants because it is too fricking hot to go and sit inside the house.

                  1. re: Gypsy Jan

                    It's not widely known, but St. Jean Cap Ferrat is named for the french superhero, Ferrat, a small furry woodland creature illegal to be kept as pets in most US states.The legend of Ferrat is that this tiny caped-crusader led an environmental revolution in the dark ages to rid small towns along the Côte d'Azur of diseased rodents. With his trademark flowing blue cape, Ferrat's leadership saved thousands of lives in both the animal and human community. After his demise, the only one small town, St Jean, would recognize his achievements. The mayor, gazing on the majestic blue sea, re-christened the town St. Jean Cap Ferrat.

                    The food and restaurants as very similar to those in the French cafés of San Diego, thus making this post directly associated with San Diego and belongs in this thread.

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        LOL...what a bunch of crap..Cap Ferrat...hee hee

                        BTW, love staying at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat...ohhh la la

                  2. Naomi Wise review:


                    3 and a half stars - very good to excellent.

                    1. I hadn't intended do Restaurant Week but a friend suggested we get together as it had been far too long and the RW menu at Cosmopolitan looked pretty decent.

                      She opened with a Sidecar, and I a Manhattan. Umm....let's just say, either we're getting very old or the bartender needs a refresher course on how to make 2 very classic drinks. We're not sure what the Sidecar was, it just wasn't what was expected. It was, at leas,t drinkable. The Manhattan, not so much. How hard can it be to screw up bouron, vermouth and a couple dashes of bitters? Apparently easier than I had imagined. The drink had strong notes of something herby and floral. My guess is either too many dashes of bitters or one of the trendy specialty bitters. In any event, cocktails did not get the evening off to a great start.

                      Starters were better. My friend ordered the Mussels and Clams combo and me the Corn and Poblano soup. The mussels were delightful; well cooked and tender. The broth that came with them was tangy with nice punch of citrus. There was a seasoning in it I didn't care for but it wasn't my dish and my friend didn't have the same reaction. So the mussels got a thumbs up. My soup was very good, tho' I'm not sure where the poblanos were as they were not visible in the dish.

                      One entree was a real hit the other a real miss. My friend had the pork cheeks with quinoa and it was stellar. The meat was incredibly tender and the pairing with the quinoa was inspired. Such a great combination. I had the steak served with fries and creamed spinach. The spinach was utterly forgettable, the fries were good, the steak was not. I ordered the steak medium rare, I got a tad over that. The meat was tough and the outer portion of it dry and tasteless. The interior was great but whoever manned the broiler screwed up this piece of meat big time. The sauce served wtih it was also a miss, extremely bitter.

                      Only one word can describe dessert, and that word would be horrid. Friend ordered the apple galette and got a leaden round of pastry with a miniscule portion of chopped, tasteless apples in the center. The presentation was great, but it stopped there. Actually eating the thing was not fun. I ordered the bourbon-pecan pot de creme. Much like the poblanos in the soup, the pecans were missing in action. The flavor of the pot de creme was sort of like butterscotch but not really. If there is a pastry chef at the restaurant they need to a refresher course in Dessert 101 because both desserts were truly some of the worst I've had in SD in the last 5 years.

                      The biggest problem with had with the food was temperature. Most of it was served at room temperature or lukewarm, all of it could have stood to be several (and in some cases a lot) degrees hotter than it was. We actually sent our coffee back because it was barely warm.

                      Service was not bad. Our waiter was actually quite good, but the backstaff were a little inattentive. Since my friend and I hadn't seen each other in a few months we asked the waiter to pace our meal on the slow side, which he did.

                      Cosmopolitan shows some flashes of being a very good restaurant but for us there were too many missteps to warrant a whole lot of interest. Hot food should be served hot, not lukewarm, classic drinks should be made like classic drinks, and dessert should NEVER be the inedible course in a meal. I might go back if it's on someone elses dime, but I'm not sure I'd really want to spend my hard earned dimes here again.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        ohhhh crap....we were going to try and check it out next week. Hmmmm

                        1. re: MrKrispy

                          I would say try it. It's not a total disaster, it's just very, very uneven. Don't eat dessert.

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            we avoided Restaurant Week this year fortunately, so that won't be a problem haha. Thanks for the review.

                          2. re: MrKrispy

                            Worth checking out. Happy Hour I highly recommend. HH food is very good plus they have $3 drafts and wells. The courtyard is a nice place to throw a few beers back and eat sopes.

                            1. re: mjill

                              I agree, the courtyard is very, very nice. And in spite of our drinks being rather dreadful, they were only $5, the Happy Hour price

                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                I'm still puzzled about the Manhattan, pretty hard to screw up a drink as old as Moses unless you use really cheap booze but, herbs??

                                1. re: cstr

                                  Odd about the drinks. The person they hired to set up the bar/drink menu/recipes is supposed to be a "heavy weight" in this area of expertise.

                                  I think there are a few new "artisan" bourbons that have come out recently with "herby" undertones. I'm all for new twists on old favorites, but some of the current experiments with mixology are just silly.

                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                    I don't think it was an artisan boubon. More likely it was an artisan bitters. The drink really tasted like someone had a heavy hand with the bitters. I've got several flavors of Bitterman's bitters at home that I've been playing around with in cocktails. Their Xochitl (chocolate mole) bitters actually does go really well in a Manhattan, and the Bitterman's Grapefruit bitters cuts through some of the sweetness in a Margarita, but a little goes a long way. An extra shake is sometimes what unbalances the drink

                              2. re: mjill

                                well no one mentioned Happy Hour and sopes, sounds like a plan! ;)

                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                  We tried Cosmopolitan on Thursday. Unfortunately they had a big event going on in the patio--service was very poor. No water refill, long delays between courses and extremely hard, uncomfortable seating made for an unpleasant evening. The food was mostly good, once it arrived. Loved the clams and mussels dish and the lemon curd and blue berry shortcake dessert. My partner loved the pork cheeks, but I thought the lavender honey glaze was too much. Sadly, we probably won't be back anytime soon, unless it's for happy hour in the garden.

                            2. re: DiningDiva

                              Not even on someone else's dime, honey. Although the patio did look like THE place to lay back and get a feel good on. I'd have to stick to my 'NEAT' preferences as those well drinks were, as mentioned, truly mysterious. I'd have to order "ICED COFFEE" and would hope they served Hagen-Daz. Pass on the tourist traps.