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Birthday Dinner (Friday Night, Great Wine List)

Any suggestions on where to take a wine director for a great birthday dinner? Was debating between Whisk & Ladle and Wine Vault, very open to any other suggestions. Thank you!

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  1. Neither Whisk & Ladle or Wine Vault have what I would call a great wine list. Interesting yes and the food is good but not an extensive wine list. Wine Sellar and Brassirie and Addison come to mind when I think "great" wine list.

    1. I am not sure if any wine list will be good enough for wine director but food- and service wise I would go with Blanca and Kitchen 1540 in SD for great, creative food.

      1. Thanks very much for the recommendations - I could downgrade from "great" wine list to just a good one...we're generally very happy at Market but wanted to try something different.

        7 Replies
        1. re: feed_me_please

          The food at Kitchen 1540 and Blanca is at least much better than at Market

          1. re: honkman

            Has the food at Market gotten a lot worse recently? It's been a while but we have always had a good experience in the past.

            1. re: feed_me_please

              We tried it twice and weren't overly impressed by the quality and creativity of the food (and quite overpriced for 4-course dinner for $80 and the service continously tried to sell us Kobe beef throughout the dinner for our entrees at $30-40/oz). I think that Chef Schroeder did more interesting and better food when he was still at Arterra.

              1. re: honkman

                I have a res on Sat for Wine Vault. How would you rate the food? I was debating going to WV or Cucina Urbana. Any thoughts?

                1. re: janeyoc

                  The 5-course tasting menu on Saturdays (only option on Saturdays) at WV is nice and creative food for a good price ($30). The only complain is thta the portions are quite small and depending how much you normally eat you might want to go for a few snacks afterwards (Starlite is closeby and a good option). We have mixed feeling about CU but the last visit was our best so far and we will be there again tomorrow. The food is good but not as interesting as WV but you can choose from a large variety and their cocktails are decent. Both places have very different ambiences - WV is quiter and more relaxed whereas CU is much louder and more energetic. Overall it really depends what kind of dinner you want - something more in the direction of fine(r) dining (WV) or more a hip, in-place with good food. (CU).

            2. re: honkman

              I disagree. Kitchen 1540 and Market are about equal in terms of quality of preparation and creativeness. We've gone to both of them several times and they are excellent. We never got pesky Kobe upsell recommendations, though, and I agree that would be annoying. Just never seen it.

              Blanca does more creative dishes, but that doesn't always cut it. The three times we've gone, we've had issues with the service, the preparation (e.g. overcooked steak), or just the quality of the final product. It sounds awesome on the menu, but it just doesn't always pan out when you try it. I can appreciate what the chef is trying to do, though, so I hope they succeed. The "Day at the Farm" dish was great.

              1. re: Pentagarn

                I guess everybody has different experiences but the last tasting menu at Kitchen 1540 was the best overall dinner we had in SD (all other dinners before where also very good). For us there are a number of restaurant in SD which are far better than Market not only Blanca and Kitchen 1540. Also I haven't seen any creative dishes on the menu for Market but too many small variations on "old" dishes - Market is a restaurant if you want to play it safe. I think it tells a lot that their signature dish are short ribs (which are actually not that good). I know a lot of people like Market but that's one restaurant where we don't understand it.

          2. The Wine Vault and Bistro doesn't have a wine list so much as they do wine and food pairings (some of which are pretty amazing). The beauty of it is that you put yourself in the chef's (and sommelier's) hands.