Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

rotochicken's Profile

Title Last Reply

DiBiase and Hunt???

So FoodBuzzSD ( is reporting Amy DiBiase, formerly of Roseville, moved to the Glass Door and has apparently left in less time than it took for them to update their now defunct (apparently) website. She has now moved on to the old Casa de Bandini (new name) in Old Town??? What?

And Maria Hunt has moved to San Francisco? Not to be a critic I assume. Stranger things have happened.

Huh, glad I didn't go to the Glass Door this week, as I was planning.

Jun 17, 2010
rotochicken in San Diego

San Diego New Places Opening

I think a Cafe Chloe type place would be great in LJ. There kind of is one in My Place (terrible name). Bascially a bistro, moderate, just not quite good enough or cheap enough. If the food and atmosphere at My Place was a just little better or a little bit cheaper I would be there all the time. They even allow dogs on the outside patio.

Mar 11, 2010
rotochicken in San Diego

Super Chefs _ Iron Chef America [spoilers]

Respectfully completely disagree with both of you. It is quite clear the point of the White House Garden is to promote a healthier diet. It is also quite clear the Garden wouldn't be highlighted in a show for a reason not related to that mission. I do not have the recording or transcript but I am certain the mandate was more than 'showcase veggies'. It had some component of inspiring America to eat better through the use of those fine ingredients (for example, secondarily from:

"The First Lady’s message for Americans to eat fresh, local, and healthy foods took center stage as seasoned chefs competed to win $25,000 for their charities."

Or from Huffington Post:

"With the point being to spread the word on Obama's campaign to promote organic, healthy eating for children, the challenge itself was never a big secret."


On that level they failed for the most part, though the winning team did that much better (which is why I think they won).

Of course I've cooked/had quail and of course I know carrot cake can be loaded with fat - on the other hand this is a challenge and a competition for world class chefs meant to inspire us to eat better. They weren't forced to use an ingredient they would feel the need to then wrap in fat. They weren't forced to fry an ingredient that is incredible fresh (oysters). And is highlighting a vegetable in a dessert best done by deep frying it? Your argument is Anne Burrell couldn't have made a delicious carrot dessert that wasn't fat laden?

The point was to inspire America to eat better and we saw world class chefs dropping turkey roulade, oysters, tomatoes, and carrots into a deep fryer and wrapping poultry in fat. Isn't America inspired by those thoughts already? Shouldn't the inspiration be the opposite of that? Isn't the message then that even world class chefs with garden fresh organic veggies and local organic meat think food is better deep fried or wrapped in fat?

Not trying to rant (failing) - I know places like Ubuntu fry stuff and make doughnuts etc. for special occasion dinners, which this certainly was. On the other hand, it was just too much - fried oysters, fried roulade, and lardo wrapped meat were all completely - completely - unnecessary and contrary to the point of highlighting veggies that are organic and local in a healthy way.

Jan 05, 2010
rotochicken in Food Media & News

Super Chefs _ Iron Chef America [spoilers]

If the mandate was essentially to inspire America to eat and cook better more healthful food - and it essentially was - then it was largely a disaster.
Sure it would be great if more people insisted on better produce and/or grew some themselves. However, when it comes to cooking is deep frying cherry tomatoes, breaded oysters, breaded lobster, breaded calamari, turkey roulade, breaded carrots (beignets), and who know what else, the type of inspiration America needs to eat better? I was shocked at how many things got tossed in the fryer. For the typical home cook deep frying is wasteful and far less healthy than alternatives. I can't believe, given the mandate, that a dish of 3 breaded fried oysters with a heavy sauce and a few slivers of veg was a dish. You can't tell me some sort of fresh oyster veggie salad wouldn't have been better. And that perfec tlocal quail? Yeah, lets wrap it lardo! Delicious yes, inspiring us to eat more healthfully? Or a heritage turkey stuffed with organic veg tossed into the fryer - this is America's inspiration to eat better food? Tragic. Those perfect carrots you just picked? Go ahead, grate them, bread them, fry them, and dump sugar on them! Go for it, eat healthy America. You can't tell me a fantastic low-fat carrot cake with really perfect sweet carrots wouldn't have been delicious.

Jan 05, 2010
rotochicken in Food Media & News

Nice restaurant in / near San Diego, open on Christmas day

Arterra in Del MAr has been a solid choice in the past. Food is usually very good, nice atmosphere.

Dec 01, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Brunch in San Diego, Broken Yolk or Harry's Coffee Shop?

Okay, I'll be polite. You say Harry's has 'average breakfast food'. I basically agree. Nothing special at all, average at best. However, to anyone who hasn't lived in La Jolla for 20+ years, Harry's is not 'little', not 'local', and not 'endearing'. To visitors it is just a run-down diner with ok food on a busy street with no ambiance and a wait. While on vacation a place like Harry's is total downer.
Is Brockton Villa a culinary destination? No. But, while on vacation, if given the choice between Harry's and BV? Never in a million trips would I ever choose Harry's. You can get Harry's literally anywhere. At least BV feels like a coastal town, with a view, and better food than Harry's. The Cottage is also a better choice.
If the 'guana (is there a llama farm in LJ?)' stench is so bad at BV you won't eat there, why do you live a block away? For the record, the 'stench' is intermittent at best and never a prime consideration. Never have I been in that area and been so apalled as to change my plans.
Seriously, not trying to be a jerk, but the average experience for a visitor at Harry's versus the average experience at BV? Not even close.
Again, not trying to be a jerk. But Harry's has nothing to offer other than local nostalgia that visitors can't tap into.

Sep 10, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Brunch in San Diego, Broken Yolk or Harry's Coffee Shop?

No offense....but if somebody sent me to the equivalent of Harry's while on vacation I would not be pleased. It is a La Jolla institution, which means, if you go there regularly you have lived in La Jolla a long time or belong in an institution :)
Again, no offense, but the food is nothing to write home about, at all. Neither is the location or ambiance or wait (amazing though it may seem).
Brockton Villa has Coast toast, easily as good as anything at Harry's and a view. A little pricier, but I would bet every visitor would prefer Brockton Villa to Harry's.

Sep 09, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

La Jolla mid-price range?

Dagney has it right. For that price range you need entrees under $15, and to be satisfied with that single dish - that is a tough find in La Jolla for a sit-down restaurant of quality or interest. There are places like Porkyland and Burger Lounge where a $40/2 person meal is very doable, but not particularly of La Jolla. Other than that, really tough.
You could try George's at the Cove - Bar, which has entrees roughly in that range and is, without question a unique to La Jolla view.

But the reality is you'll probably end up at more than $60 and the food is good not great, but you pay for the view.

For actually fitting that budget, the only suggestion I can make is PrepKitchen. It is essentially a high-end take-out place. For $40 you could easily make a substantial dinner for two (focaccia, chicken or tuna salad, half chicken w/side, porchetta sandwich, brownie) - but there is no ambiance whatsoever (you can eat outside the place, essentially in a little strip mall). But, for a La Jolla experience at that budget I would say get a couple things to go, take a short drive to La Jolla Shores beach grassy area and enjoy a sunset picnic. You will not be disappointed. You could do the same at the Cheese Shop (good stuff, but just sandwiches) which is a block from Shores, well within walking distance of whatever parking spot you can find.

Good luck.

Sep 09, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Weekend in San Diego - Reporting Back.

Not trying to nitpick, but $140 is way too much for what you list. Most expensive app is antipasto at about $18 (second is $13), most expensive wine I've ever seen is $10, beer is $5-8, cocktails I believe are $8, never seen an entree more than $22. Erring on the expensive side $18, $18, $12, $12, $8, $9, $24 =$101 or $110 after tax. And I doubt you ordered 2 anitpasto platters and tipped pre-tax 30% (no offense). Not trying to nitpick, but we've never been over $100 for 2 app, 2 entree, 2 drinks. Starlite is actually inexpensive and IMO a good value, I just don't want to lave the impression that $140 is a typical bill for 2, as it is much closer to half that for us.

Aug 17, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Adesso: what shouldn't I miss?

Egg and lardo panini.
Pisco sour.

3 favorite S.D. chefs

I'm going with (in no order):
1. every French chef so far listed plus Jason Knibb
2. Jack Fisher
3. every Japanese chef listed, plus the personnel responsible for the food coming out of Tajima and Ba-Ren

Jul 21, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Lard in San Diego

So I went to the Knight webpage - looks good and I've had it at restaurants and it is good. However, what are the prices? It says something like $12 then 'price is per ounce and the average salame is 12 ounces'.
They cannot possibly be charging $144 for one small coppa can they? I don't want to go through the checkout to find out, but when the item is in the cart it just says $12, and I dont want to continue to see if it goes up to $144 since the button on the bottom says 'purchase'.
I guess I am confused, it can't be $12 for 12 ounces, it doesn't seem to allow me to choose how many ounces, and if it is $12 per ounce...well, no.

Dont get me wrong, I am all about salumi and am willing to pay, but if that is the price....uh, I'm ordering from Boccalone for a whole lot less.

Jul 17, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Need a bar in La Jolla Colony/UTC- San Diego


Definitely. SOL.

Lived in that area for over a decade, way back when the Elephant Bar sat in the Rock Bottom location. Sadly, the defunct Sports Bar by Trader Joe's/Petsmart and Rock Bottom were/are the only remotely reasonable places.

There is Japengo, the bar at Roys (in the restaurant, but an area of its own - but not great), but I guess we're into overpriced. PF Changs? I kid, I kid.

Define your 'scene' and you might get some better responses. O'Brien's and Jack's would fit some (polar opposite) 'scenes'. The Hungry Stick others.

Jul 02, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Prep Kitchen - SD

Thanks! When I make it there I will report back on the sandwiches.

Jun 10, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Prep Kitchen - SD

Was about to try this place for lunch. Do they have seating or is it strictly take-out? If so, is it someplace you would like to sit down to eat or just functional, if you get my drift?

Thanks for the report!

Jun 10, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

San Diego - Farm House Cafe or Urban Solace?

I am really shocked honkman. I give you all the respect in the world, and I would greatly prefer that whatever discussion may occur is focused on the food and experience. If I recall correctly (or IIRC for those under 25) you loved Region as much as I did (do). That being said, I could not disagree more with you about Farm House and Better Half. I respect your opinion, but I just can't find the common ground. I have been to Better Half 3 times and Farm House 4. The only things at the better half I had that I want to order again are the pork belly and the bread pudding (one of two tries it was superb). At Farm House I would order the chicken liver mousse, the charcuterie plate, the truffle gnocchi, the pork cheeks, the lamb shank, the house made bolognese (this perplexes me, I've had this twice and both times it was astonishingly good, yet I know you had it and did not like it, and I am a total housemade pasta junkie), the salmon, hmm, probably more. Oh, the escargot risotto was exceptional the two times I had it. So, somehow we (I believe) met at Region but diverged here.
As a side note, I was at Farm House last week and neither the Chef nor the usual head of the house (sorry I forget her name at the moment) were there, but service was very good and the food as good as if He was there.

So to address the OP. Farm House, 100%. The prix fixe + wine is a good deal, and very good. But, I would go for the pork cheeks. Pork cheeks, ummm.

Feb 27, 2009
rotochicken in San Diego

Jack's Grille San Diego

Since nobody has chimed in I will, though I haven't been there in about a year (maybe a bit more).

The pizza I had was a huge disappointment. We had tried their entrees on a previous visit and were unimpressed. We went back to see if the burgers and pizza type stuff was good. We were again unimpressed.

I had the mozzarella, tomato, basil pizza. I was expecting nice discs of white mozzarella, slices of ripe tomato, and basil leaves strewn about. I got what could have been a thin crust cheese pizza from Domino's. Low moisture mozzarella, almost certainly out of a bag of pre-shredded. Tomatoes? Nope, sweet tomato sauce. Basil? Maybe a chef tossed in a teaspoon of dried basil somewhere. I didn't see a shred of it, and obviously didn't taste it. Crust was good.

Again, I just had that one pizza and haven't been there in a year or more. Service was also sorely lacking, just to pile on a bit more.

Jul 02, 2008
rotochicken in California

wine shop hillcrest or utc area?

If you go down Miramar a bit from UTC you will find San Diego Wine Company.

It is pretty much exactly what you describe you are looking for:
"low price finds for everyday and actual thoughtful selection for collecting"
"an actual shop where you can get to know the employees, ask questions, etc."

Good luck.

Jun 18, 2008
rotochicken in California

best restaurant in san diego?

A little ironic that you prefer Starlite over Region. We had a meal at Starlite that was good, but nowhere near the vast majority of the things we had at Region. I do agree the styles are in the ballpark and I look forward to getting back to Starlite. The funny thing is we recognized a former Region server at Starlite and got to chatting. Apparently the kitchen at Starlite is stocked with Region alums (obviously not Stebner or Colwell), including the charcuterie maker (who is awesome).
The food was prepared well at Starlite, but the flavors just didn't sing. Not sure why, maybe the seasoning was off or the ingredients weren't top notch.

Jun 12, 2008
rotochicken in California

new to SD-loved urban solace, where else to try?

I do not dispute that the Better Half is innovative and a fine restaurant. But, IMO, it has not reached its potential. If it does, and I expect it to, it will be a strong contender for the Best in SD. As of now, or at least a month ago at my last visit, it is still firmly in the very good and worth a trip, but not yet a contender for Best.

Just off the top of my head, in the past couple years I have been to Nine-ten, Tapenade, and Cavaillon at least 4-5 times each (more really, though haven't been to Nine-ten in a while). Between those roughly 15 visits and my 2 dinners at Better Half....hmm...forced to rank them, my two Better Half meals wouldn't crack the top 10.

I have also had one dinner at the Farmhouse Cafe and am more excited to get back there to see if first impressions hold up than I am to get back to the Better Half, FWIW.

That being said, I am definitely going back to the Better Half at least a couple more times this year. The menu is so clever and the vision so evolved that I desperately want it to be better. So far though, the food just hasn't given me a single 'wow this is really, really good' - well maybe the bread pudding and almost the pork belly.

Price wise it falls between Farmhouse and Cavaillon, but I cannot believe the prices won't rise. They offer an amuse, brussels sprouts , and a sorbet cone to every diner and their prices are still very fair. I can't believe that can continue - though I hope it does. Actually, I wish they would drop the 'extras' and make the food a bit better, at least drop the sprouts.

Again, just to be clear - GO TO THE BETTER HALF - I very much want it to blow me away and I think it will. It just hasn't, yet, so I can't rank it as the Best. For reference, I wasn't blown away by Region on my first try, but it showed massive potential and quickly became my fav, and the best SD has seen the past 6-7 years. Hopefully, the Better Half will do the same.

May 01, 2008
rotochicken in California

San Diego Restaurant Week - Recommendations, Suggestions, and Comments

I don't think RW is a rip-off, but I gotta say it is hard to get to $75/person for three courses in San Diego. Thankfully the $40 entree is still rare, but even with it, you need a $22 appetizer and a $13 dessert - also rare 'finds' once you eliminate foie gras from the options - to get to $75. Sure, Addison can get you there, but they aren't in RW. For all the participating high-end places the luxury-type entrees (i.e. the $35 and up aged beef, truffle-laden, foie concoctions) don't appear on the RW menu.

For the most part, my impression of RW week is you generally get a soup or salad starter or a smaller version of a pricier type starter - in other words items that would be $8-12 on the regular menu. The entrees are also usually the mid-low range, sometimes even being items from the appetizer or second course menu, and sometimes less elaborate than on the regular menu - items that would typically run $16-30. Desserts are often an afterthought or less elaborate than the regular menu - items that would run $8-10. Of course their are exceptions, but I just don't see many this year. For me and what I typically order, I save about $6-10/person. Not bad at all, but I would rather choose from the entire menu (including the option to share dessert - which cuts into the RW savings) in a less crowded room with (typically) better service.

I haven't looked at every menu, but I am leaning towards skipping RW this week. But, again, I have enjoyed it in the past.

Jan 16, 2008
rotochicken in California

SD Fire Impact

According to a blog post on Ruhlman's blog, Chef Gavin Kaysen reports that the RB Inn and El Biz made it through.

On the other hand, Chef Kaysen says his produce guy suffered some loss. It is not entirely clear who this is, but it seems to imply La Milpa.

I should also add that Cavaillon in Santa Luz is fine and open (according to a mailing-list email from the owners).

Oct 26, 2007
rotochicken in California

High end and innovative in SD?

In addition to Market, I think there are four other places that fit 'innovative and high end'. To be sure, these are not innovative like, say, wd-50, but they do offer creativity.

Nine-ten in the Grand Colonial hotel in La Jolla can be tremendous.

Jack's Fine Dining Room in La Jolla is probably the most innovative and can also sparkle. The chef (Tony DiSalvo) worked at Grammercy Tavern and Jean-Georges. His food reminds me of some of the dishes in Jean-Georges' cookbooks. If you go be sure to book the 'Dining Room' - Jack's has about 7 venues the Dining Room is the high-end good one.

Arterra in Del Mar is also relatively innovative.

Addison in the Grand Del Mar is relatively new. I have not been there, but the menu looks great. I have heard good things and it is the next high-end place I try for sure. It is probably the most expensive.

Again, if you are bored by the New York innovators you are out of luck, but these places can turn out wonderful food that isn't strictly steak frites or pork chops and apples.

Good luck and let us know how it goes, we always enjoy hearing an 'outsiders' take on our town.

Oct 12, 2007
rotochicken in California

East Coaster Visiting San Diego - CH recs?

The main dining room at Tapenade will indeed be that much. However, the bar menu is a superb value. Coq a vin for $14, escargot for about $6, plump mushroom ravioli for..uh, maybe $8, steak frites $16? In any case, the last time we were there they basically said every hour is happy hour at the bar and the printed menus had the deep discount listed. In other words, if you go to their bar menu online, it is pretty close to the items available, but about 60-65% of the listed price.
The food is very, very good and hard to beat at those prices. I would call and check though as they seem to change happy hour around.
So, you can eat at Tapenade for $30 a person. I suggest the escargot, ravioli, and coq a vin (not quite as good as Cavaillon's, but $5 cheaper).

Oh, the entire dessert menu is also available at the bar, and even at $10 a plate, do not skip it. Chef Maure is my new hero after a superb strawberry concoction and a pistachio ice cream that was one of the best ice creams I have ever had (very much on par with Jack Fisher's toasted hazelnut).

Sep 23, 2007
rotochicken in San Diego

Cal-Mex or Pizza near UTC (San Diego)

This thread was recent and precisely on topic:

Of course the first post is a link to a previous thread.....but that thread is more dinner than lunch.

For my money, lunch is either Nozomi, just off La Jolla Village on Regents, Fins or Z Pizza in the 'Ralph's' mall at Nobel and Villa La Jolla. Fins is Rubio's-esque, but IMO much better, and I like Z Pizza more than Leucadia, Sammy's, or Cal. Pizza Kitchen (neighbor to Z Pizza and Fins).

Aug 08, 2007
rotochicken in California

Help narrowing down restaurant choices for Bachelor Dinner in San Diego

The scene at Jack's grille might be better, but the food is in a completely different league than Market and Nine-ten - and not in the good way. The food at Jack's grille (and service) is way up and down. I've been twice and sampled about half the menu. Nothing was really, really good. It is cheaper than the others by maybe 40%, but still not a good value. Some things are good (bass), but others really bad (pizza and crab rolls for example). If your prime concern is food than Jack's Grille is easily the worst of the bunch (haven't been to the new George's). Jack's does have a Fine Dining venue which I thought was really goodand similar to Nine-ten, but has been getting mixed reviews here.
For a combo of scene and food Market is the best choice by far. You can sit in the bar area (better than it sounds) for a more lively feel. Nine-ten is also extremely good, but service can be really bad (can also be good, but..). Further, there is no scene at all at Nine-ten. It is a smallish room with a small bar area. It definitely has a quiet atmosphere for the most part. I have been there with a group of 8 and we were a relatively lively bunch, though not outrageous by any stretch, and felt like we had to tone it down a bit (as in we were dominating the center of the room and started to feel like the entire room was listening in).
If you want all festivities in one location then Market is the way to go. The only advantage to Jack's Fine Dining or Nine-ten (or Tapenade) is you are in La Jolla and can walk to another venue for drinks or whatever.

Aug 08, 2007
rotochicken in California

Asia-Vous (SD) closed

Looks like the chef is moving to Maui.

I have no association with that blog.

Aug 04, 2007
rotochicken in California

Jack's Dining Room

Unless there is a route I am not aware of Jack's requires more stairs than Laurel (or an elevator) for pretty much all their venues (except the Sidewalk cafe).

You probably know, but Nine-ten is street-level with an inexpensive valet directly in front of the door.

Jul 30, 2007
rotochicken in California

Recipe Jockey or Chef?

No need to apologize. Entirely my fault. I was in a bad mood. There are few people I respect more than those who can turn out 100 meals a night better than I can do 2.

Jul 07, 2007
rotochicken in Not About Food

San Diego - Blue Coral

Well, in my defense, my comparison was that Blue Coral 'isn't nearly as good'. In my sole experience I thought the food was okay. Nothing really bad, just....not very good, especially at the price.

i do think they might survive longer than you/we think. The manager came over and we chatted for quite a while. They are definitely part of a big company and they actually do everything well, except prepare exciting food.

Perhaps a better comparison is Roy's. It is like Roy's, but not as good. I am not a fan of Roy's, just a couple blocks away from Blue Coral, at all. The food is better at Roy's, another seafood chain, but not by much.

Jul 06, 2007
rotochicken in California