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San Diego Restaurant Week

mjsp1 Jan 11, 2011 04:02 PM

Ok - i know most "Chowhounders" dislike restaurant week altogether

but that aside - what looks to be the most "Chowhound" friendly restaurant selection for restaurant week in the 3 categories?

Name a $20 / $30 / $40 restaurant. based on their menu selections being the best in terms of, best restaurant & best food selection.


  1. i
    ian langdon Sep 15, 2011 03:50 PM

    We use RW to go to restaurants we wouldn't usually go to. The thought of going to Ruth Chris doesn't usually strike my fancy but during RW its quite the deal. Pretty hard to screw up a wedge salad, a prime steak, and a triple chocolate cake. More than acceptable for $40.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ian langdon
      cstr Sep 16, 2011 06:09 AM

      They routinely run a 3 course special, similar to RW, for $39.95.

    2. p
      Pegmeister Sep 15, 2011 05:52 AM

      I'll be arriving in San Diego this weekend (9/17) from Boston and have just discovered it's restaurant week. I'm not a fan of restaurant week here in Boston because menus are so limited and I rather not be tied down with a resevation. So, do I have options, or do I need to make reservations? Do many restaurants offer their regular menu along with restaurant week menus? I'm staying at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Pegmeister
        DiningDiva Sep 15, 2011 05:59 AM

        Most, but not all, restaurants offer their regular menu during restaurant week

        1. re: DiningDiva
          Pegmeister Sep 15, 2011 06:04 AM

          Thanks. Do you think I'll be able to do late lunches without a reservation? I wouldn't mind taking that approach and skipping the whole restaurant week menu thing. I know I shouldn't judge how it is in San Diego by what I experience in Boston.

          1. re: Pegmeister
            cstr Sep 15, 2011 06:56 AM

            I think you'll be safe with late lunches, I tend to avoid RW for it's limitations and hurried service, it just does not bring out the best in restaurants.

            1. re: Pegmeister
              honkman Sep 15, 2011 08:14 AM

              It will depend which restaurant you want to visit.

          2. re: Pegmeister
            chezwhitey Sep 17, 2011 01:56 AM

            whisk n ladle is the best deal during RW by far, their whole menu is fair game.

          3. c
            chezwhitey Jan 17, 2011 09:37 AM

            Went to Kitchen 1540 last night, I know you guys aren't fans of RW, but I thought it was worth it, the selections they had on the menu were what I probably would have gotten anyway. I was really impressed all the way around from the service, to the food, to the wine etc.

            I think this may have been my first foray into molecular gastronomy, the chef made scallop dish with liquid nitrogen popcorn which he crushed and turned into a sauce. The description of the dish made it seem like a desert with popcorn, caramel, and candied almonds, but it worked. Pork shoulder was tender and delicious, desert was a bit overkill and a little too heavy, but still not bad. I was really impressed with our waiter who really knew his stuff and was very friendly and professional. An experience like this would definitely make me want to come back (for a special occasion of course).

            2 Replies
            1. re: chezwhitey
              4wino Jan 18, 2011 08:42 AM

              Went to WV&B and I had a wonderful 3 course dinner for $20.

              1. re: 4wino
                Ms. Verde Jan 21, 2011 09:02 PM

                Just came home from Avenue 5. We were extremely happy. Everything we ordered was excellent, but 2 items were memorable--artichoke soup and jasmine pot de creme. I've had artichoke soup before, but this version was so intensely flavored with artichoke I could have made a meal out of it! (Wish it was on their regular menu! ) The jasmine pot de creme was more of a creme brulee, but delicious, and the accompanying homemade donuts were warm and wonderful. If there regular menu items are this yummy, I am surprised I haven't heard more about it!

                Avenue 5
                2760 5th Ave Ste 100, San Diego, CA 92103

            2. SDGourmand Jan 17, 2011 06:52 AM

              Went to Whisk N Ladle last night for RW.. Didn't go purposely for that, had friends staying in LJ and wanted to have dinner.. There was four of us so we pretty much went through the whole menu.. The ono crudo was excellent fresh clean flavors. They changed there sweetbread dish around a little I prefer the old one with the lentils and bacon but this one was still very good.. They also changed my mind or Carlsbad Mussels these were some of the best I've had, huge plump mussels cooked perfectly.. The squid ink paella is more of a risotto than paella but it was everyones favorite of the night.. Chestnut tagliatelle and lamb sugo rigatoni were both solid pastas dishes.. Pasta was cooked perfect and wasn't over sauced.. We finished with the escolar and cassoulet again both spot on.. I must say I always enjoy myself at WNL but this was one of the best experiences I've had here. Definitely check them out for RW or any other time.. Cheers to Chef Ryan for a great dinner..

              1 Reply
              1. re: SDGourmand
                keena Jan 17, 2011 07:44 AM

                I wanted to go to WNL but friends made reservations at Nine Ten and it was also wonderful. Hamachi and tuna crudos had lovely tangy sauce drizzled on them. The lamb, duck and swordfish were spot on. I loved the green farro and pickled Swiss chard stems served with the duck. The jerk pork belly was nicely cooked but that definitely was not jerk seasoned ala Caribbean. I had the Meyer lemon sorbet with olive oil gelee and huckleberries for dessert which was one of the best desserts I'd had in a long time-- so bursting with flavors yet light. The spiced crumb cake with bacon had great flavors and was lovely but was just a little dry. The partially baked chocolate cake was out of this world for chocolate fanatics. I hadn't been here in years and now I know we will return. So a definite success story there.

                Nine Ten
                910 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

              2. c
                chezwhitey Jan 12, 2011 09:32 AM

                I'm new here, why do chowhounders not like restaurant week?

                21 Replies
                1. re: chezwhitey
                  foodiechick Jan 12, 2011 09:53 AM

                  Personally, I don't find RW to be that great of a value. I really can't finish 3 courses on my own, I prefer to share an appetizer and dessert. I also feel that most restaurants don't put out their most creative dishes for RW, but instead, feature dishes that are low cost for them. For example: I am kind of "done" with short ribs and mac 'n cheese. And finally, I think when the RW throngs descend on the higher profile restaurants the service suffers quite a bit.

                  I just find it a better value to try "new to us" places outside of RW. Ordering the way I mentioned with shared appetizer/dessert usually comes out at about the same price point as RW prices and you can choose from the entire menu.

                  1. re: foodiechick
                    chezwhitey Jan 12, 2011 10:19 AM

                    Fair enough, on the other hand, you don't have to share, you can get what you want and try out more things. You are probably right that they don't necessarily serve the most posh dishes, but at the same time, the point of RW is to introduce people to their food with the hopes they come back during non rw times, so they still have to put a good foot forward. I see your point though with the short ribs and mac comment though.

                    1. re: chezwhitey
                      RB Hound Jan 12, 2011 12:23 PM

                      I don't think most of the Chowhounders are against the concept of Restaurant Week at all. Rather, they (we?) just do not see it as the best time to try a restaurant.

                      1. re: RB Hound
                        eatemup Jan 12, 2011 01:59 PM

                        Agreed. Too busy. Often too little attention paid. And for me personally, I have no interest in dessert so it is not a good deal for me at all. I can go to any of these places any night and get a starter and a main and typically beat RW prices. Color me interested when they start including a cocktail..

                    2. re: foodiechick
                      Fake Name Jan 12, 2011 07:47 PM

                      " am kind of "done" with short ribs and mac 'n cheese."


                      Did I tell you I went all 2010 without those two dishes due to complete menu fatigue? I did eat short rip in CU's pasta dish, but that doesn't really count.

                      I may still boycott for 2011 until the trend is over.

                      1. re: Fake Name
                        foodiechick Jan 12, 2011 09:22 PM

                        I am officially adopting that goal for the new year, because, you know, short ribs are kind of a "rip"^.

                        1. re: foodiechick
                          Fake Name Jan 13, 2011 07:18 AM

                          You mock me. One typo, and I'm mocked. And I feel the sting of your editorial rapier.

                          Let me 'splain to you more about the short rip dilemma. The fad has no clothes.

                          Sure the Cuisine Hype Machine wants us to believe the test of a great chef is what he/she does with "inexpensive" ingredients. You know, ingredients one would find on a farm in the South of France, and the chef trained by his/her mère. [May be done in the countryside near Berlin as well] The way they can coddle and encourage and tease every bit of precious flavor from this hard chunk of old gray meat is nothing short of a culinary miracle.

                          But it's just a tough cut of meat that's been slow-cooked (oh- wait lovingly braised) since the line cook went off duty the night before. And those braised clods can be held in the goo (braising liquid) until the end of the nights service (they don't get more cooked!) when the leftovers get broken down for the next evening's pasta or soup special. Just like la cuisine mère.

                          Don't get me wrong- I like them. And it they were appropriately priced near the bottom of the menu with the chicken I'd think they're fine. But the dish has been so elevated and it's value so twisted I had to take a stand and strike a blow for Chowhounds who feel they've been over-moderated by their host.

                          I know- I've made the dish for dinner parties and spent far more time creating the celery root puree. Doubtlessly to rave reviews.

                          Mac n Cheese? Come ON people! It's a gloopy mess with too much gloopy. How can those who espouse refined taste in food be impressed with this glop that examples all that is wrong with the American diet?

                          Wake up! It's GLOP! And I don't care what kind of CowGirl Creamery Super Fromage you use in it.

                          Now- onto those those French Fries….and restaurant week.

                          1. re: Fake Name
                            DiningDiva Jan 13, 2011 07:34 AM

                            Don't foget the truffule oil with those fries...

                            1. re: DiningDiva
                              Fake Name Jan 13, 2011 07:41 AM

                              Thus, my point. Another decent simple food co-opted into the world of fancy-schmancy. A humble food, elegant in it's simplicity.

                              But not anymore...

                              1. re: Fake Name
                                DiningDiva Jan 13, 2011 07:53 AM

                                Don't look at me, I only eat french fries with ketchup (or ocassionally tartare sauce). But then my water choice is always plain old "house" or SD tap water and not more fashionable sparkling or still.

                            2. re: Fake Name
                              cstr Jan 13, 2011 07:50 AM

                              FN, if you think short ribs are hyped and pricey, don't even look at bone marrow if it's on the menu.

                              1. re: Fake Name
                                MrKrispy Jan 13, 2011 09:23 AM

                                Actually celery root seems to cost more than short ribs, so maybe chefs can start doing a short rib puree?

                                1. re: Fake Name
                                  foodiechick Jan 13, 2011 10:56 AM

                                  Sir. I mock you, not!

                                  Actually, your subsequent thoughtful essay summed up my thoughts on the short rip situation perfectly. It's a dish that I enjoy making at home on a cold, winter Sunday (OK, chilly, we are in SD after all). I get much more enjoyment from this particularly lowly clod of meat when it comes out of a devoted home cook's kitchen slathered in love rather than left in large mass to disintegrate and "hold" in a restaurant's kitchen. I do like the beauty of stretching it's leftover applications at home, but paying for the restaurant's leftovers...not so much.

                                  1. re: foodiechick
                                    mjsp1 Jan 13, 2011 08:45 PM

                                    I noticed one person followed directions here.

                                    1. re: foodiechick
                                      foodiechick Jan 13, 2011 09:20 PM

                                      I need to amend this intolerant post of restaurant short ribs. We dined for the second time tonight at Aquamoree (new, "southern tapas" restaurant in La Jolla). We shared 4 tapas plates, as we did on our first visit. My husband (after much ridicule) reordered the short ribs tapas plate for the second time, and (although keeping with MY pledge not to order this dish) I had a bite and have to say it was one of the most delicious versions I have had. Espresso braised short rib with butter braised green beans. But what put it over the top was the bacon gravy, horseradish mashed potatoes, shaved Yukon Gold garnish and the SMOKED CAULIFOWER puree. It's a contender.

                                      Mea Culpa.

                                      1. re: foodiechick
                                        karaethon Jan 14, 2011 08:49 AM

                                        Not to thread hijack, (so maybe in a separate thread) but can you give some comments about that restaurant in general. My former boss knows I'm a foodie and he highly recommended Aquamoree as a place for me to try.

                                        1. re: karaethon
                                          foodiechick Jan 14, 2011 10:47 AM

                                          Everything we have tried so far has been decent and above. To answer Honkman's questions the tapas portions seem large to me - I would have the short rib tapas plate as an entree and be satisfied. The young chef/owner graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and was most recently at the Grand Del Mar. He is originally from Atlanta and is passionate about the food he grew up with - reflected in the menu of southern dishes with CA twists. Very different than anything I have seen in SD.

                                          We have enjoyed:
                                          * buttermilk onion rings with chive and goat cheese cream
                                          *cucumber 'n tommater salad with pickled shallots
                                          *REALLY good "shrimp 'n grits" with blackened shrimp, chorizo cream and cheesy grits
                                          and the above mentioned short rib.

                                          Tempted to try
                                          *roasted tomato gratin
                                          *mini shrimp corn dogs
                                          * crab cake with corn succotash, pickled cucumbers and tomatoes wit tempura bacon fries
                                          *carnitas sliders

                                          There were only 4 active tables last night (Thurs) and I'm not sure how deep their pockets are. He told us they are going to have small blues groups Thur-Sat at 9pm starting in Feb.

                                          Dinner menu:

                                        2. re: foodiechick
                                          honkman Jan 14, 2011 08:55 AM

                                          And you mentioned that you shared 4 tapas plates with your husband. I was wondering if you both are light eaters or are their tapas plates unusual large. At tapas places we often order more 8-12 plates.

                                          1. re: foodiechick
                                            DiningDiva Jan 14, 2011 08:56 AM

                                            Bacon gravy? Horseradish mashed potatoes? Damn the short ribs, full speed ahead to La Jolla, I'm going fore the accompaniments :-D

                                            1. re: DiningDiva
                                              foodiechick Jan 14, 2011 10:28 AM

                                              The accompaniments make the dish. Worth the price of admission.

                                  2. re: foodiechick
                                    Alice Q Jan 19, 2011 12:00 PM

                                    Totally agree. Unless everyone in your party would order three courses otherwise (and that's not very likely) Restaurant Week just is not a bargain. I've also encountered some disappointing menu changes and strange menu offerings. Like the AR Valentien menu that offered "family style" more casual dishes rather than their usual elegant farm to table fare. It almost turned me off to the restaurant entirely. After several years of participating, we had an absolutely terrible RW meal at El Bizcocho a couple of years ago, and that was finally it for us.

                                2. goodhealthgourmet Jan 11, 2011 07:56 PM

                                  $20: Wine Vault
                                  $30: Currant
                                  $40: Kitchen 1540 (this was a tough one, there were several contenders)

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                    foodiechick Jan 11, 2011 08:13 PM

                                    Wow...Wine Vault is a total steal. I am over restaurant week, but if you have not been to Wine Vault...run, don't walk to that deal.

                                    1. re: foodiechick
                                      goodhealthgourmet Jan 11, 2011 08:34 PM

                                      yeah, i live in LA now, and when i saw the Wine Vault deal i was really bummed that i won't be there to take advantage of it!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                        karaethon Jan 11, 2011 09:01 PM

                                        What are your other contenders for the $40?

                                        1. re: karaethon
                                          goodhealthgourmet Jan 12, 2011 08:50 AM

                                          bearing in mind that these are places i *haven't* been to but would love to try during RW based on the meus they're offering:
                                          - Amaya at the Grand Del Mar
                                          - Market
                                          - Nine-Ten

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                            karaethon Jan 13, 2011 01:31 PM

                                            Amaya has a $40 3 course menu during non-RW also. It's probably better to go at that time since it won't be all crowded and busy.

                                            The time I went to Nine-Ten for RW, the serving size was as if I was getting a 7 course tasting menu vs just a 3 course meal. Left very unsatisfied.

                                            1. re: karaethon
                                              goodhealthgourmet Jan 13, 2011 09:09 PM

                                              good for everyone to know...though it's not going to matter for me since i left SD - i have to suss out the best RW deals in *LA* now!

                                      2. re: foodiechick
                                        Beach Chick Jan 12, 2011 09:04 AM

                                        I disdain RW week but I'm a running with my Louboutin's to Wine Vault's $20..3 course prix fixe meal!

                                        1. re: Beach Chick
                                          Cathy Jan 12, 2011 09:08 AM

                                          They do a $20 one every Thursday and a $30 every Saturday. Avoid the crowds...sign up for their emails.


                                          1. re: Cathy
                                            shouzen Jan 12, 2011 09:20 AM

                                            $20 on Fridays as well, although the wine pairings tend to be themed and a better deal on Thursdays.

                                          2. re: Beach Chick
                                            foodiechick Jan 12, 2011 09:58 AM

                                            LOL. Luck you to own LBs. I guess my Lucchese boots will have to do.

                                            1. re: foodiechick
                                              Beach Chick Jan 12, 2011 10:38 AM

                                              Love Love Love those red Lucchese boots you have!
                                              ; )

                                      3. s
                                        shouzen Jan 11, 2011 04:53 PM

                                        I think Whisknladle has their entire menu on offer, so just think of it as a slight discount on a 3-course meal. But the crowds... oh, the crowds...

                                        1044 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: shouzen
                                          gbrl Jan 11, 2011 06:06 PM

                                          I also give props to Whisknladle for RW. Namely, because while it will be busy, they were so nice last time to call and ask to postpone my reservations for 30 minutes, offering our party of four a round of drinks. $45 for half an hour - not too shabby.

                                          1044 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

                                          1. re: gbrl
                                            4wino Jan 11, 2011 07:23 PM

                                            I discovered that place last September, and I don't think that we've been there more than 10 times. But last week when we visited them, we did not order the charred bone marrow, and the servers presented us with a complimentary bone marrow plate.

                                            Pure class!

                                          2. re: shouzen
                                            mjill Jan 11, 2011 09:59 PM

                                            I don't believe Wisknladel officailly is a RW participant. A couple years ago they started doing a discount deal on the full menu during the week period. Pretty smart since obviously they are getting a bump in business because of it but don't have to drop any cash to be a participant. I want to say Urban Solace does something similar too.

                                            While RW was much, MUCH better when the price was only $20 per pre-fix (whats this $40 business?!?), I still highly recommend from personal RW experience:

                                            Wine Vault - I think they are doing a $20 menu this go-around
                                            Cowboy Star

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

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