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BlueRibbon Rustic Kitchen. Yes, indeed.

We shared some happy hour apps- both bruschetta type things with Prosciutto- one with fig, another with peach, both with Arugula or some sort of other fancy-schmancy green stuff. Both VERY tasty.

We proceeded to an appetizer of grilled asparagus, herbed ricotta (I think) chees and a fantastic fried duck egg. Amazing.

She had a lemony-bright Troffi pasta dish- fresh and clean. I had the opposite- a rich short-rib ravioli with a very complex horseradish cream sauce.

We finished with a butterscotch pot de creme (they call it a pudding) that was equally spectacular.

She had a nice glass of red wine, I had a 24 oz can of anti-craft PBR.

We agree it was the (trumpet fanfair) The Best Meal Ever in Hillcrest (proper).

Walkable for us, we will return. But are unlikely to get a seat.

Service personable efficient and kind. Knowlegeable, too.

Go there.

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  1. Nice review, FN. Sounds like a Must-Go place -- at least I'm sold. Honestly hadn't ever even heard of it before now. I take it this your first time?

    1 Reply
    1. re: DoctorChow

      Yes, it just opened- this week, I think. Same folks as Blue Ribbon Pizza in the LA/Encinitas area, but no pizza.

      Different concept.

    2. So short ribs (at least as an ingredient) are off the "do not fly" list"?

      Sounds great, it was already on my list. Now we will walk over after the next Landmark movie date night. Do they take rezzies?

      Meaniehead revoked.

      1. A PBR??? Gutsey FN! Was it wrapped in a brown paper bag? BTW - nice food description.

        13 Replies
        1. re: cstr

          No bag, no glass.

          A 24oz tall boy can, sitting right on the table, without a coaster, taunting the crafty-beer types with its red,white and blue patriotic splendor. It was happy hour, and it was $3, just like a beer should cost.

          Take THAT, beer fetishists!

          1. re: Fake Name

            $3 is $2.50 more than that beer is worth haha. Thanks for the review, will check the new place out soon

            1. re: Fake Name

              If I'm ever invited to your house, I'm bringing a box of Franzia

            2. re: cstr

              I wouldn't call PBR an anti-craft beer; rather it is a beer that just doesn't acknowledge the craft beer movement, and sits back and ignores it.

              1. re: Tripeler

                I rather think of PBR as one of the 'original' craft beers!

                1. re: Tripeler

                  I don't really get the "anti-craft beer" thing, but for those who feel like they're sticking it to whomever by filling their belly with low-grade swill, here's an interesting story about the owners of PBR and their marketing efforts (the fact-averse may not want to click through):

                      1. re: Josh

                        Pfft. I'm going to take an old bleach bottle down to the "old pub" and get a "Growler" of local crafty microbrewski made by artisans- they call it ,like, Sweet Kitty Hoptimizer, bro.

                        1. re: Fake Name

                          You must be confusing me with someone standing on your lawn.

                          1. re: Josh

                            What.... you're a Lawn Jockey? Go back to SF.

                            1. re: Fake Name

                              More like 'Sweet Kitty Pee Hoptimizer'!

                    1. Could not agree more. Big fan!

                      1. PBR? Can this Fake person be trusted?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Dagney

                          Only the trustworthy would use a Fake Name.

                        2. Good to know. I'm a big fan of Wade Hageman and his wife.

                          1. Returned there last night.

                            The food was excellent, but it was a weekend evening AND THE PLACE GOT PRETTY LOUD.

                            Service was a little wobbly as well.

                            Still on the "A" list, but...

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Fake Name

                              Glad we skipped it. Loud places drive me nuts.

                              Wine Vault was very good, though. And peaceful.

                              1. re: Josh

                                The Wine Vault peaceful? Do tell. I am so surprised. We used to go there often some years back but finally gave up because of the noise level. Was it just a slow night? Has Chris finally redecorated and added sound dampening...?

                                1. re: wrldtrvl

                                  We went also recently and it was surprisingly quite as it didn't seem as crowded as before and it was also easy to just walk in on a Saturday but still very good food

                                  1. re: wrldtrvl

                                    We were there at 8:30pm on a Thursday, so I guess it was pretty late.

                              2. we went on Sunday night (6-8pm) and it was pretty empty.

                                Service was good (although it was a bit confusing - we couldn't figure out exactly who was our waiter - there seemed to be multiple).

                                The food was pretty good:
                                - calamari: fine, a little soggy
                                - sweet corn soup: very good
                                - risotto with marrow: good, but it lacked some 'umph'
                                - bruchetta with argula and canned peaches: refreshing and tasty
                                - the other couple had the short ribs and ravioli, which were both very good.
                                - carmel pot was delicious, as always

                                the cocktails were a mixed bag - some were great, others were meh. They were not very boozy (which, for me, is a drawback, but I understand others like them lighter).

                                The problem for us though was the total expense. It was a bit more than we'd like to spend for a night out with friends (about $180 before tip and tax for the four of us; yes, we drank a lot). Not sure if it will be in our usual dinning out rotation.

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: salustro

                                  Canned peaches ? Seriously when they are now in season ?

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    Peaches come from a can; they were put there by a man, in a factory downtown.

                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                      I guess like meat and most other things we eat

                                      1. re: honkman

                                        That would have worked in that song!

                                      2. re: RB Hound

                                        Love the POTUS reference, RB Hound!

                                      3. re: honkman

                                        And I'll add, soggy calamari??

                                        1. re: honkman

                                          Call them preserved peaches. Problem solved.

                                          1. re: honkman

                                            Canned peaches ? Seriously when they are now in season ?

                                            Seriously? Canned peaches are in season now. Who would've thunk it.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Just made me some peach jam and no canned peaches please!

                                              1. re: cstr

                                                Wow sledge...you really made peach

                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                I have yet to find a dish were canned peaches are tasting better than fresh ones

                                                1. re: honkman

                                                  Jell-O salad?

                                                  With organic, all-natural Jell-O of course.

                                          2. Cannot wait to try this place! sounds awesome!

                                            1. Sad to say i didnt enjoy this place. Tried to get an entree order in at last call. They switch to kitchen snacks at 10. Ordered scallops entree over zucchini cakes and leeks w meyer lemon beurre blanc and potato ricotta crispy gnocchi w wild mushrooms ciopollini onions and truffle cream. Both came out fast from the kitchen and cold. Everything cooked through just cold. Hard to enjoy that. Super loud place which wasnt enjoyable. Looked forward to trying this place will give it another try for kitchen snacks

                                              1. Went last Friday. The service was great, the food, so so.

                                                Albacore--really very good, served on top of an avocado, pancetta mix. Great portion and very tasty

                                                Calamari--Agree with another reviewer, nothing remarkable here.

                                                Zucchini--Looked great on the menu, didn't taste so great.

                                                Trofie pasta--Couldn't find much shrimp, tasted O.K. At 19.00 expected better.

                                                R.K. short ribs--The short ribs (rib) were dry to the point of being inedible. The pasta was good but again 26.00 for a small dry piece of meat on some pasta seemed a bit excessive.

                                                Again, the service was great; they really try hard. The menu looks fantastic on paper, if only a bit pricey on some items. Unfortunately, on the day we were there, the food just didn't taste all that great. Probably deserves another try after they work out all the kinks.

                                                1. Yes, indeed! Hello deep fried brussels sprouts, come to Mama.

                                                  Husband enjoyed the largest, juiciest, most tender short rib I have ever seen with heirloom carrots on a bed of house made pappardelle.

                                                  The short rib ravioli was complex but surprisingly delicate and was paired perfectly with a Malbec that both the Manager and Chef recommended.

                                                  The infamous butterscotch pudding was best I have EVER had...sweet, slightly salty, caramel creamy heaven.

                                                  Because I choose to ignore the hype of restaurant week, we found ourselves there in the middle of said event, but without a problem. The room was fairly empty at 630pm but full and loud an hour later. Excellent service and a bonus to those that don't live in the area: validated parking the Village Hillcrest parking garage.

                                                  Now if I can just find the recipe that was published a few years ago for that butterscotch pudding!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                                    The butterscotch pudding recipe is provided on Blue Ribbon Pizza's website.

                                                    1. re: foodiechick

                                                      I also went this week, forgetting it was restaurant week. We arrived at 8ish on Wednesday night and had dinner at the bar. The food was great, but the room was so loud we had a hard time hearing each other, even though we were sitting side-by-side. I hope it will quiet down once restaurant week is over!

                                                    2. We tried last night for the first time Blue Ribbon Kitchen and were very impressed. All dishes were excellent, smoked salmon, sweetbread saltimbocca, brussel sprouts (truely addictive), short rib ravioli, scallops, butterscotch pudding. Nice ambience (which somehow reminded us on Gjelina), relaxed service and nice, rather simple but for the food fitting, cocktails. They are also open late on Friday and Saturday so it is also a good late night bar with snacks. So far Cucina Urbana were our favorite spot for Italian inspired food but based on the first visit Blue Ribbon Kitchen clearly surpassed them.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                        Yes, indeed, to restate FN's OP. A great place for Italian-inspired food.

                                                        There are some additional comments specific to their pasta offerings by foodiechick and me here:


                                                        On a side note, I never thought I'd see the day when brussel sprouts became so popular; they seem to be almost ubiquitous in restaurants these days. (And a good side effect is that they're more available in grocery stores.)

                                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                                          Last time I walked by they seemed slow- must remind myself to go back and support these good places.

                                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                                            We went there two months ago after a late Sunday matinee around the corner. We had 7 pm reservations and had to wait awhile for a table, because they were slammed. The staff apologized profusely, but I hope they're doing that more often than waiting for someone to walk in the door.

                                                        2. re: honkman

                                                          Gjelina? High praise indeed. We'll have to make it a point to visit on our next trip down.

                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                            Comparable to Gjelina in terms of ambience and quality of food but the kind of dishes are obviously quite different between both restaurants (even though there are some overlaps like the brussel sprout (which are better at Blue Ribbon Kitchen). Foodwise it might be closer to restaurants like SPQR but on a much more rustic level. Overall it was the best italian inspired dinner/restaurant we had in 12 years living in SD. (It will be interesting to see with Chef Jason Seibert back in SD at an Italian restaurant if we see some drastic improvements for italian cuisine)

                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                              Whoa, where's Jason going to be? That is exciting news.

                                                              Cafe Cerise was way ahead of its time. I would imagine now it could be successful.

                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                He is now exec chef at Vivace at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad

                                                          2. re: honkman

                                                            Tried it last night from 10-11:30pm for their late night/bar menu and it is a great addition to our rotation - great food, good cocktails, relaxed ambience. The food had the same quality as their regular menu, good portion size and cheap, e.g. the pork belly was much better quality (meat/fat ratio), better prepared and actually larger than at Urban Solace (our regular place for pork belly) but just $8 instead of $23

                                                          3. Had yesterday night another round of great late night snacks but got some disappointing news - they will keep all their stuff but will soon "rebrand" the restaurant since they get constant feedback that the customers want simpler food preferably shared plates and more focus on the drink options (beer, cocktails) It was pretty clear how frustrated they are that according to them you can't do high quality food as an independent restaurant as long as you don't focus on burgers or pizza or some kind of comfort food. It is fascinating how they used pretty much the same sentences as other chefs in San Diego like Schmidt, Neroni, Seifert or somebody like Jay that quality food in San Diego is only an afterthought and cheap beer and your standard short ribs, ahi tuna, sandwich and burgers have to be on the menu otherwise you have no chance to be successful in SD. They really sounded frustrated and it is more than understandable as it shows how miserable the local dining scene still remains

                                                            17 Replies
                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                              Very disheartening, especially the customer feedback. To steal and bastardize a line from Fake Name, I like it here and I wish there was more food to like. To steal a line from Risky Business, South Bay sure could use a place like Blue Ribbon.

                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                  IMO, Blue Ribbon would do better in North County with higher disposable income.
                                                                  It is sad but my observation in Hillcrest it's more about the cocktails than the food.

                                                                  Wishing them well.

                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                    "IMO, Blue Ribbon would do better in North County with higher disposable income."

                                                                    Oh, well laa-dee-dah.

                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                        I don't know, the surrounding neighborhoods of Mission Hills and Bankers Hill has some pretty well off residents (including a certain "impostor" and his brilliant, corporate spouse). ;)

                                                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                          In summary, I guess that the general wisdom is that North County San Diego, has the money and will pay for quality, but the points farther south have no taste and if they do have the money, they are not going to spend it on good food in an upscale presentation?

                                                                          I'll just take a CAB from Sergio's and be done with it.

                                                                        2. re: honkman

                                                                          Perhaps it's just me, but I already viewed them as a shared plate /craft cocktail type of bar (as opposed to a restaurant). Why? It seems like its always happy hour. Monday (and now Tuesday) = all night happy hour. Wed-Sat. = 5 - 6:30 and 9:30 - close happy hour. As Honkman has stated, they have a pretty great late night/bar menu, but that menu is very shared plate-ish.

                                                                          I love their food but, given this scenario, I just don't see the benefit in seeking out the 15-20 hours a week where they actually have a full price, entree-style menu. With any flexibility in your dining schedule, this is some of the best food for the price in SD.

                                                                          Personally, I think its their location. I've been here 10-ish years and me thinks they are the fourth restaurant in that spot since I've been here. It seems like the neighboring restaurants/wine bars/galleries in that building go through a fair amount of churn, as well. That whole block is a loud, trafficky mess.

                                                                          1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                                            Not sure if I agree with you - yes they have long happy hours but their food (and its portion size) is pretty much the opposite of shared plate food (more what you would get in a restaurant in Italy). They actually mentioned that as part of their rebranding they will change the portions sizes of their dishes as it was one of the complains they always heard that the dishes weren't good for sharing. And the happy hour food (a lot of the pasta dishes, all of the entrees are missing) is very good but the regular menu is a step (or two) above and worth seeking out.
                                                                            The location is not perfect but might be only part of the problem - they mentioned that their main problem, even on nights when they had many customers, they always heard complains that their dishes are too fancy and that people for example don't want pasta dishes with "unknown" ingredients but just your bolognese or tomato sauce. From their comments it was obvious that they don't believe that the situation would be different if they would move the restaurant anywhere else in SD.

                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                              This whole idea of them having to rebrand because people think their dishes are too fancy is depressing. I have always liked their dinner menu and found it pretty straightforward. Grumble.

                                                                              1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                I would think pointing those customers to the Olive Garden or Carraba's might have been a cheaper option than a whole re-branding campaign.

                                                                                "Pardon me, garcon, do you have plain old bolognese or Ragu-type tomato sauce?"
                                                                                "I'm sorry, we only use locally sourced, "mysterious" ingredients in our house-made pasta sauces."
                                                                                "Well, what about unlimited breadsticks?"
                                                                                "Dammit, let's re-brand."

                                                                                1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                                                  Anyone who calls a waiter "garçon" should either be in a Tarantino flick or a Caraba's indeed.
                                                                                  The "unlimited breadsticks" line made me GuffawOL. Good one!

                                                                                  1. re: globocity

                                                                                    I used to love it in the old Honeymooners TV show when Jackie Gleason called out for the waiter as "Gargoyle, Gargoyle!"

                                                                                    1. re: globocity

                                                                                      Pumpkin: Garcon! Coffee!
                                                                                      [looks at Honey Bunny]
                                                                                      Pumpkin: This place.
                                                                                      [the waitress approaches the table and refills Pumpkin's cup]
                                                                                      Waitress: 'Garcon' means boy.

                                                                                      Don't get me started...

                                                                            2. re: honkman

                                                                              How dare you, sir. Next you'll be saying the food's better in Berlin.

                                                                              1. re: Josh


                                                                                It's Josh-of-The-Great-North!

                                                                            3. Went here Friday night with a large group of friends to celebrate a birthday. Friends had the vegetarian lasagna, short rib ravioli and the sweetbreads. We shared the vegan pasta with tomato sauce, brussel sprouts, and zucchini fries.

                                                                              The pasta as probably the best I've had in SD. All of the old was terrific.

                                                                              The birthday girl enjoyed the butterscotch pot du crème and she loved it.

                                                                              Our servers were attentive, friendly, and spot-on with the cocktail and wine recommendations.

                                                                              We were very impressed and will return soon. Great addition to the Hillcest area.

                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  Welcome Social Experiment - based on their comments I am pretty sure they choose this rather cynical name on purpose

                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                    The words "social" and "urban" should be banned forever for all bars and restaurants

                                                                                      1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                        you should probably trademark that fast, because someone in SD is going to use it soon I bet!

                                                                                        1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                          There is already a Social Urban Bar and Restaurant in Rockford, IL

                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                      Hate the name, but glad to see that they are keeping some of the more successful dishes on the menu (even if they are presented in a different or smaller format).

                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                        At least they added the "+ kitchen" part to the name so we know they were still serving food. :)

                                                                                        I'm glad the menu didn't really change all that much. From our visit a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the sweetbreads and the hamachi were absent, but it looks like they added some new interesting new items. I hope the change works out for them, it's nice to have a place like this with solid late night fare. +1 on the $3 house shots special any time you hear a siren.

                                                                                        1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                                                          I thought I read somewhere that pasta dishes aren't on the new menu.

                                                                                          1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                            Me thinks I saw the short rib ravioli and a pappardelle dish on the new menu on Eater the other day.

                                                                                            1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                                                              Hope so! That short rib ravioli was/is terrific.

                                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        At least it's owned by the same people -- people who have demonstrated a disposition for quality food.

                                                                                        I'm very unhappy to see Blue Ribbon go after such a short time. I'd have gone more often!

                                                                                        I never did like the name though. It somehow invoked images of a dark, dank PBR-type 50-something bar atmosphere. That big blue ribbon outside contributed, I think. Not only that, but it wasn't very "rustic" inside. At least I didn't think so.

                                                                                        The owners seem to be name-challenged but otherwise savvy, quality-oriented restauranteurs. I'll be interested in taking part in their Social Experiment, and in seeing how the reviews go here.

                                                                                      3. "...a 24-oz. can of PBR"?

                                                                                        I guess that you are are now a reformed European snob and have embraced membership as a flag-waving booster of us common people.

                                                                                        But, in order to cement your street cred, you need to misspell "bruschetta" and "prosciutto".


                                                                                        22 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                          I just had PBR for the first time about month ago. Legitimately bad. I tried to like it for the sake of old-schoolness. Didn't happen.

                                                                                          1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                            PBR is the hipster beer of our times - FN might already have a mustache

                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                              And a fedora and a SearSuckered suit?

                                                                                              1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                                Nothing is impossible with FN but perhaps he isn't posting any longer since he moved together with Stone Brewery to Berlin the (culinary) capital of the world

                                                                                                1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                                  Nah, he sticks with basics...black. ;)

                                                                                              2. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                                "It's Pabst, Pabst, Pabst, Pabst, wherever you go!"

                                                                                                (Second line of original PBR jingle, modified to "Pabst-Brewed Draft Beer, wherever you go!", ca. 1959.)

                                                                                                "Smoother, fresher, less filling -- that's clear!".

                                                                                                (Third line, modified at the same time to "All Pabst is draft brewed, that's why it's clear!".)

                                                                                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                  [Waiting for the Blatz crowd to say something, but...maybe no-one even noticed?]

                                                                                                2. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                                                                  So you are ripping Fakey for drinking a PBR 18 months ago?

                                                                                                  Sounds fair. LOL

                                                                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                    Not a'toll.

                                                                                                    I'd never rip FN.

                                                                                                    Actually, I hadn't re-read his OP before posting my comments about the change in concept.

                                                                                                    Anyway, I don't think he's around to whack me right now.


                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                      Well, first:

                                                                                                      "It somehow invoked images of a dark, dank PBR-type 50-something bar atmosphere."

                                                                                                      as if there is something wrong with that?

                                                                                                      And then...I'm currently on the road- a train trip- where the beer is cold and refreshing and the food is defrosted, microwaved steak and burgers on Amtrak's Southwest Chief on which we spent 45 hours.

                                                                                                      My penance, however, paid off like a slot machine with our Chicago hotel located *less than a block from Eataly* where I ate each of three nights. MrNameTheYounger was quite pleased with the Nutella bar.

                                                                                                      Currently in Dearborn after a 7 hour run on The Wolverine which I did not take up to Annandale. Ate only Rolled Gold and M&Ms. When MrNameTheYounger was Mr4 and we train-tripped to Disneyland, I used to bite the little pretzels into letter shapes to teach the alphabet. We now have a tradition.

                                                                                                      But. The Southwest Chief had a happy hour, offering chilled PBR for $3 each, see color plate A for reference. It was located in the snack car chiller next to the Stone Brewery products. I may have had to push some of the Stone product out of the way to grasp the red,white and blue of quality.

                                                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                        So good to be an American and explore our great country by Amtrak. Bravo to you and the maturing MrName TheYounger. Keep us posted as your adventure continues.

                                                                                                        1. re: cstr

                                                                                                          Currently eating a Chicago dog in the HenryFordMuseum. The museum is far better than the dog.

                                                                                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                            Didn't find that breed of dog while you were in Chi-town?

                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                              Fakey, you are fairly close as the crow flies to my original stomping ground (northeast corner of Indiana). I don't think Amtrak will get you there, but could you wave to the southwest for me anyway?

                                                                                                              1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                < consults iPhone compass app. Waves to the southwest >

                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                  Thank you. Good luck finding Chowworthy food.

                                                                                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                    It's certainly been an issue, except for Chicago. Good thing I can stomach food like crappy burgers and PBR.

                                                                                                          2. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                            Sounds like you're having a really nice trip.

                                                                                                            Cheers & enjoy that classic Midwest brau!

                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                              Love the smoke stop in La Junta Colorado, site of one of Alton Brown's stops in his motorcycle travel series.

                                                                                                              1. re: littlestevie

                                                                                                                We didn't get many smoke stops- train was running behind and that's one way they pick up the slack. I don't smoke, so it was not a hardship for me.

                                                                                                                Although one passenger couldn't stand it, and smoked in a lavatory. He was met at the next stop by local LEOs, escorted off the train, and is banned from Amtrak in the future.

                                                                                                                They ain't messing around.

                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                  I don't smoke either, but it was kinda cool to walk through some of those small towns for 10 minutes or so. In La Junta, I met the mayor and the bank president and saw the inside of the bank where there was a hold-up in the 1880's.