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Vintana Wine + Dine (Escondido) patio "small plates"

They don't call it small plates, but my wife and I had a light dinner on the patio at Vintana Tuesday evening.

Food was very good to excellent. Desert was very, very good. Two items + olives + two glasses of wine + one desert was about $58 plus tip. Not inexpensive, but food was more than worth the price point.

Even spent several minutes talking to Deborah who was there about the wines on the menu. It was 90 to 95% American wines with a couple of Australia wines, and one or two wines from New Zealand and Chile. Didn't see any French, Spanish, or Italian wines.

Our waitress said Deborah has been there almost every day -- its good to see that shes involved in getting the place set up the way she wants.

It's a little bit different driving into an automobile place for dinner, but its well done and goes well with the Lexus brand.

We used to be frequent regulars at the lounge side of Tango in Escondido, though we've gone a lot less as people have changed there (it used to be like Cheers where everyone knew your name). I'd say Vintana is about 50% more expensive than Tango small plates, but I'm sure the overhead there is at least 50% higher if not double.

Pictures of food items attached.

Items are:

Mussels and chorizo in wine sauce ($11)
Spice olive jar ($5)
Prawn Corn fritters ($8 -- not 100% sure this was the price)
Kelly's S'Mores ($10, expensive but very very good, and was actually perfect size to split)

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  1. Stopped by with a friend Tuesday afternoon before going to the farmer's market... had a couple of apps ans a beer. Nice space, friendly staff and good food... not bad for Escondido!

    The patio is very nice, I can't wait till they have things together enough to book music there. It would be a very nice place to spend a summer evening.

    1 Reply
    1. re: svnirvana

      "Not bad for Escondido"! Now that's a backhanded compliment.

    2. Great report flyer...
      I can have my car serviced, eat and drink pretty well for around $60...love that!

      1. We were just talking about the place last night and wondered when it would be opening. I must admit I find the idea of a restaurant on top of a care dealership to be very odd but I am curious to see what it looks like and exactly what the views are like from inside. I'm thinking a martini and those fritters would be perfect. Thanks for the heads up.

        4 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          I think the view from inside is easy to imagine: Dick's Sporting Goods, construction zone, freeway overpass, busy intersection. My husband and I did comment, though, that at least you wouldn't be facing that ridiculous billboard/rotating random photo gallery.

          1. re: maestra

            The view actually is better than you think it would be.

          2. re: escondido123

            Arestaurant in a car dealership is odd? Maybe so, but it is a concept that has been done before.

            Back in the 90's, the Ruby's Diner chain set up a restaurant in a Newport Beach exotic car (Aston Martin, Range Rover, etc.) dealership. The diner did good business, we ate there several times with our children and their friends and it became a popular spot for children's birthday parties.

            1. re: Gypsy Jan

              I grew up in Orange County. When it comes to commerce of any kind, nothing that happens there surprises me.

          3. Sorry but the prices of steaks are kind of high for non aged beef. If it is aged or grass fed they should say so. Cowboy Star's Rib Eye is $1 more and aged 21 days (by the way the one of the 3 best steaks I have eaten) I do not have the anti Cohen thing many have but for that price it seems you could do better.

            1. I went by Vintana yesterday and it looked like all parking was Valet. With half a dozen of us coming from different places, that can get expensive. Anyone know if there is park-it-yourself parking available?

              2 Replies
              1. re: escondido123

                Yes, there is a self-park option on the top floor of the parking structure located to the right near the service dept. When I was there the other day I parked about 75 feet from the entrance.

                Of course if you self-park you miss getting to ride the Glass Elevator! <G>

                1. re: escondido123

                  Valet is complementary. Of course, you may still wish to tip ;)

                  I self parked when I went though. Just turn right and follow the signs to the top floor of the parking garage for self parking.

                2. 6+ of us had drinks and apps sitting at the bar tonight. Emory was our bartender and though he was a young guy he was old school and made you want to sit at the bar--which we did. Sampled a number of the $7 apps (2:30-6:30) and loved the fritters, calamari and Caesar salad. Wish their $7 cocktails went beyond Vodka--our gin martinis were $10/$12 but everyone was friendly and helpful and we will definitely be going back. The view, from the bar, is wonderful...with the hills and the 15 (love to look at a freeway buzzing with no noise). Lively, friendly and busy!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: escondido123

                    Thanks for the report esco!
                    Is the $7 apps and drinks a happy hour deal?
                    Tentacles in the calamari (love them)...anchovies in the caesar...fritters with honey?
                    Sounds fab and look forward to eating and drinking there.

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      They call it the Social Hour and it runs from 2:30-6:30 and that 's when 7 apps and all their Vodkas are $7. I think there were tentacles in the calamari (I don't like them my husband does so and it was his app.) Fritters came with an aioli since there was seafood in them. Caesar was deconstructed with confit tomatoes and brioche toast cubes. Didn't get a bite of that but looked very good--knife and fork necessary.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        Just asked my husband. Yes, there were tentacles, dark and crispy. For sure calamari and not just rings cut from the large steaks.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          Thanks...seafood fritters, calamari tentacles and $7 vodka cocktails...sweet!

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            All I've ever wanted was a "pure tentacles" calamari fry...


                            1. re: SaltyRaisins

                              Salty...my man!
                              Great to see you posting..and it was for the love of the 'pure tentacles''.
                              Don't get the ring action...it's all about the tentacles..and a good dipping sauce too.
                              ;- )

                    2. There is an interesting article on them in the Food section of today's North County Times. You can read it online at http://www.nctimes.com/lifestyles/foo...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: escondido123

                        100 different vodkas ? What a waste of bar space. Vodka has its (limited) role in the cocktail world but otherwise mainly exists to make cocktails for those guests who don't like cocktails

                        1. re: honkman

                          It's a signature thing among many of their restaurants and the bottles are all backlit so it makes a nice wall behind the bar. Our bartender was quite happy that we that we all ordered drinks that weren't vodka--and gave me five for a gin martini.

                          1. re: honkman

                            Sorry vodka is as complex and different as any other spirit. People who say vodka is tasteless have not had a wide range of Vodka. Try Bison form Ireland and then Beluga from Russia.

                            I do agree that good Vodka is wasted in a cocktail much like any good spirit.

                            Best non vodka drink "Cable Car" only two places on earth make it well.
                            the Starlight room In SF and the Bellagio LV (who's master bartender created the drink at The Satrlight Room)

                            1. re: chris2269

                              Have been in 3 times over the last few weeks. The patio is a great outdoor option for those that live in the area. The wine list runs about 300% markup but some deals can be found. Food is typical Cohen 20% food cost. If it comes from the fryer it can be ok, otherwise stick with the flavored nuts. Really, we go for a drink and the view.

                        2. Worst.Service.EVER ~ we saw our waiter 4 times. to take our order.forgetting our coffee with dessert, and to,give us a check and to explain why the check was lost. Our party of 6 had a service charge, so i suppose, he didn't EVER have to come back.The busboy couldn't find the waiter, to correct our check ~ another waiter came, and then forgot about us. I had to find a hostess ~ this took 20 minutes.

                          We've been to other Coen Restaurants before ~ Vintana had no managers. plenty of staff, the only person helpful was the busboy. other people delivered our food, and no one explained anything. The Chartreuse had many items on it, we just had to guess what they were.We had to deliver the plates to the people, because the booths are inconvenient to the waiter.

                          The best part, was we opened the doors for our parents, and a waiter went through the door too. really.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: elicia

                            Ah, brings back memories of a place I ate with my mother in San Francisco where the bill was $80 and yet after we didn't order a 2nd beer/wine, our waitress stopped serving us and served another table only(which just happened to be literally two feet away). All the service ended up being handled by the busboy/floor sweeper inc dishes that were cold and non-alc beverages. That was the first time in my life that I tipped THAT low, $1 for the $80 meal(normally tip 10%-25% depending on service). She came running after me complaining about tip which I responded with a finger and some expletives.

                            That restaurant was the turning point for me to look at reviews heavily before I go to new restaurants ever again.

                          2. I met friends here last Friday - we were there for the band - and I must say the venue is much nicer than I expected. Someone said the view is better than you think, and they're absolutely correct. And again, I can't say enough about the service at Cohn restaurants. Their food is not swoon-worthy, but my experience is that they're consistent. Valet parking is complimentary. A very nice patio for drinks and apps at sunset.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: phee

                              We actually went during restaurant week, and more than one person has called me crazy but I must say I was impressed by the service. I would call the food very good and cooked properly as ordered. Deborah was there working the kitchen the night we were there. We had oysters as an app, properly shucked with a nice minonette. The restaurant week deal was fine, but the bonus was that they had wine specials as well, and I was going to order one of the wines anyway. The place was crazy because there was a charity event out on the patio, but the meal was paced properly and management was evident throughout the evening.

                            2. We ate there last night. Pretty bad. Overall experience bordering on insulting. Service was bad to awful. Shockingly so even. Food was all over cooked and average to awful. Artichoke app was soaked through with fry oil. Flavor combinations were puzzling and not good, like it was done by rolling dice. For example, linguine with clam was super think pasta sitting in a pool of bacon fat, covered with raw bitter greens. Salmon was overcooked and "crusted" with something that tasted like paper. Wine by the glass was served twice with a heavy dose of sediment, even after we let the waiter know the first glass was bad. We asked a passing employee to take our photo and she just glared and walked away. Setting and view were wonderful.