Vagabond in SD
OK, so based on the reviews/reports that have popped up recently on Vagabond, my Wife and I decided to give it another shot. We also hadnt been in years and since its close, it was friday evening and didnt want to go far we decided to go.
Arrived, the door guy/owner/I dont know who he is but maybe he's the owner/person greeted us and let us know he'd get a table ready. he replaced the butcher paper and thats it. no place settings, no small plates,...nothing.they were way short staffed and busy. No busser, just two struggling waiters and a very chatty and somewhat clueless greeter. eventually had to ask the greeter/owner/whatever for settings, he grabbed the plates from table next to us and gave us those, then forgot the silverware.
Drinks - Old fashioned that sat too long, they dumped more ice in and were successful in totally watering down my drink. Wine,... decent enough, nothing great.
Food - actually quite good, shrimp and grits which were tasty, brussell sprouts and broccoli which was also quite good and coq au vin, less winey than I remember it being the last time there. Food, again, was good. Not spectaculer, not superb, not sublime, it was "good".
Service - terrible. short staffed, other guests could not get anyone to help them, inattentive manager.
I wont be going back. Service there is just needlessly bad. The waiters seem to do the best they can but when its busy a skeleton crew doesnt help. I honestly dont get the hype.
Terrible. Awful. Don't go there....
At least that is what I'd like to tell people so that we can keep the place (somewhat) to ourselves. In fact, it is one of the most original restaurants to hit SD in awhile. There is some sort of connection, I believe, with the recently-shuttered Voyage in Little Italy; but Vagabond gets it right where Voyage went wrong. The food is super tasty and creative. More importantly, Vagabond just has that indefinable vibe that makes you want to be there when you're not and to stay there when you are. Whatever the feng shui of restauranteering is, this place got it right.
Yes, we were there just last Saturday for lunch (our second trip). I had a pasta special (linguini, lots of basil, marinated tomato, fantastic olive oil, garlic) that was truly one of the best things of its kind I'd ever tasted. My partner had the moules frites (mussels in a cream sauce with a side of frites) and they were also superb. The aioli that is served with the deep fried calamari and garlic is one of my favorite things (same stuff as at Philippe Beltran's previous restaurants in town). By the way, the garlic in this dish is whole cloves suitable for spreading on bread.
There's been a lot of recent reporting about Vagabond, and from everything I've heard, it's tough to get in for dinner. Lunch is also very popular (the place was nearly full on Saturday at 1 p.m), but you probably won't have to wait for a table. I *really* like this place.
. . jim strain in san diego.