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Jan 11, 2011 04:02 PM

San Diego Restaurant Week

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.

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  1. 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

      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

        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

        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

      3. $20: Wine Vault
        $30: Currant
        $40: Kitchen 1540 (this was a tough one, there were several contenders)

        11 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

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

          1. re: foodiechick

            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

              What are your other contenders for the $40?

              1. re: karaethon

                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

                  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

                    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

              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

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


                1. re: Cathy

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

                2. re: Beach Chick

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

                  1. re: foodiechick

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

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

              21 Replies
              1. re: chezwhitey

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                    " 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

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

                      1. re: foodiechick

                        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

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

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            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

                              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

                            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

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

                              1. re: Fake Name

                                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

                                  I noticed one person followed directions here.

                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                        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

                                          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

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

                                2. re: foodiechick

                                  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. 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

                                  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. 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

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

                                    1. re: 4wino

                                      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