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Adagia > Free House (Berkeley)

I never went to Adagia, but Free House is not bad. Especially since I am right across the street at Boalt all day. I had their cassoulet one day, which was not great. I wanted it to be soupier/stewier, but it was more like the consistency of a....(this is a random comparison but...) stir fry. It also had a distinct offal flavor, which was not an ingredient.

But then I had the vegan chili, which was pleasant. The mushrooms were probably overcooked, but overall it was nice.

Feb 24, 2012
pkt63 in San Francisco Bay Area

Paul K vs. Bar Jules for pre-ballet dinner

My best friend and I have narrowed our choices down to these for a pre-ballet dinner in a couple of months. We are foodies and love talking endlessly about the quality and experience of dining (both service and food), money is not a consideration for this evening, and we are adventurous. These two seem relatively similar from an objective perspective. Any thoughts from those experienced?

We would also be open to any other suggestions, although she has said no Jardiniere, since she's been there a lot, and I have nixed Zuni for the same reason.

Jan 24, 2012
pkt63 in San Francisco Bay Area

Anybody tried La Bastide in Scripps Ranch?

Went the other night and had their pork chops which were some of the best I've ever had. I wish I could remember what they were cooked with....it had such a nice sweet/savory sauce. My FIL had the lamb, which he loved, but I didn't get to taste. I think there was only one steak on the menu...filet. Not my favorite so I would never order. Their salads are delicious too. I think it's a lot better than the "only game in town" but maybe that's moer a reflection on the town than the restaurant. I still think I would like it well if it was in Clairemont, UTC, MIssion Valley. In say, North Park, I would say it's nice, but not make it a habit.

P.S. Their truffle butter is the BEST. I have never had truffle butter anywhere else. So good. Still as a whole if you want french, Tapenade is the best (Anthony Bourdain apparently agrees - wow, I agree with Anthony Bourdain), and Chloe for more casual. It's much more artful than la bastide.

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La Bastide Bistro
10006 Scripps Ranch Blvd, #104, San Diego, CA 92131

Sep 21, 2010
pkt63 in San Diego

Anthony Bourdain Live in Escondido Sept. 18th

anyone heard anymore about this? I know it is sold out for both regular and VIP tix. I heard a rumor that there was something where you could actually join him for dinner (as opposed to the VIP meet n greet after), but don't see anything about it on his website/

Sep 14, 2010
pkt63 in San Diego

Smash Burger La Jolla

I agree with you, Josh. They really sound very different. However, it does seem like SB is trying to get at some of the same people BL does, based on that press release above. All the talk about the ingredients they use is chracteristic of places like BL where the difference really is the ingredients. I definitely think by the words they are using that they are trying to plant an image in people's minds of cows roaming rolling hillsides and backyard gardens with lettuces and tomatoes growing. I think there is a certain segment of the population that likes that, but doesn't think about it too hard, but feels like they are eating higher quality, healthier foods.

Looking at this as glass-half-full, and to DiningDiva's point, it does go to show, I believe, that the mainstream population of diners is changing incrementally as well. If normal places are marketing as though people care about the source of their food, that says something about the market. And as the market does that more, supplemented by things like Food, Inc. where people start to learn how to tell the difference better between shams and true efforts, theoretically it would, or at least could, keep moving slowly and steadily toward a market where truly local, organic, antibiotic free (etc etc) foods are a mainstream desire. So maybe there is a way to look at these chains more optimistically!

Mar 19, 2010
pkt63 in San Diego

Restaurant at Convict Lake (longish review).

Agree. Link to my post including a short review of Convict Lake...http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5809...

May 31, 2009
pkt63 in California

Restaurant at the Hotel Pearl (SD)

right on their landing page: http://www.thepearlsd.com/
look in the bottom right corner

Apr 12, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Restaurant at the Hotel Pearl (SD)

We went last night! They have a coupon online right now, for a free entree with one entree + two drinks. So we splurged. Their beer and wine selections are limited, but they do have some diversity within the small list/taps. We shared the same pork belly app that honkman mentioned and liked it a lot. Just perfectly done.

We had one green salad, which had a tasty vinaigrette, but I thought the greens mix was heavy on the bitterer greens and could have used a higher ratio of the less bitters. I know, that sounds super picky. I am picky and love to overanalyze. But honestly, my husband had to stop eating the salad because it was too bitter.

The soup was soooo good. That night they had a vegetable soup with a little cheese and pesto. Perhaps a bit heavy on the pesto, but hard to complain. The broth was flavorful but light, the veggies were tasty and fresh and it was right between warm & comforting and springy & refreshing.

For entrees I had the beef, which was a sirloin, served with radicchio and potatoes. The steak was cooked well, but it was heavily salted in some places. Like way too much. Mostly where it was also most heavily charred. So, a little bit indelicate there, but overall pretty good, as were the potatoes. And maybe it's not a surprise based on my salad comment, but the radicchio was just unpleasant. It seemed braised, perhaps, but this did not reduce its bitterness. And I felt it was odd that the dish was served with lots of bleu cheese, which is also a pretty salty, bitter cheese...I would think some more contrasting flavors might work better. And I love salty like no other, but this dish as a whole went a bit far that direction.

My husband had the pasta of the night, which had a very flavorful tomato sauce. Just lovely.

For dessert we had the doughnuts, which were nice, and the dark chocolate bread pudding. Loved that. Just rich enough. Nice 'n' chocolatey. Warm and a little buttery. Not in any way a traditional bread pudding and shouldn't be compared to one, but a great dish in its own right. Yum.

As for service, our servers were great, altough just one small misstep when our main server told us the pasta had no cheese on it, but it came out with parm on it. My husband has a violent reaction to cheese, so it's important to us that people get that right when we ask. But, otherwise they were right on top of it. So overall, I'd give the food a solid "Very good" and would go back, with an A- for service.

P.S. the place itself is great. Lots of atmosphere and the decor is fantastic. It's much tinier than I expected, but just adorable.

Apr 11, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Sab-E-Lee (SD)

I enjoyed lunch there a couple of weeks ago. We actually got take-away. If you go to stay are you supposed to order at the counter or do they come to you?

I love spicy food whether it hits the tongue or the sinuses. I've never been one to push it to a 10 at a "normal" restaurant, but I usually think a 7 or so is a nice balance between heat and still tasting the actual dish, for me. I've never had anything that was too spicy, with that approach. After reading Naomi Wise's review, we ordered a 3 on our dishes, just to err on the safe side. Wow. I went through half a box of tissues and then I went so far as to gargle with milk. Luckily the flavors and herbs are fresh and intense enough that I still could tell it was good food. Seriously, though, you all must have tongues of steel!

Apr 11, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Frankie the Bull BBQ

Hmm, that's too bad. I was interested to start hearing some chowhound reviews, because I read a brief blurb on the restaurant a few weeks ago, and I believe it said that they are using the traditional "low 'n' slow" method, which has been a point of lively discussion here lately. However, I read this blurb in an actual physical paper and can't seem to find any references online. Looking forward to hearing more, but if it's not very good, it's not going to the top of my list, no matter how traditional the barbecue method is!

Apr 06, 2009
pkt63 in California

San Diego restaurant list - please review and comment

I wouldn't even say Filippi's is mediocre. I find it actually unpleasant. What do people think about Pizza Port for kids? Seems like fun to me, but I don't have kids, so I don't know. Still, it's a local San Diego place, with good food and great local beers and they even have homemade ice cream!

Mar 23, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Restaurant at the Hotel Pearl (SD)

Been wanting to go here, too. Glad to get confirmation that it deserves a place on my list at least. How much is the 4 course?

Mar 23, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Alchemy, SD

We went to Alchemy for tapas and cocktails on Monday and really enjoyed it. First of all, we thought it was a pretty good deal. The "Snacks" have several combinations. We got 3 for $10, and they are a decent size, so decent value. We had the white bean hummus, which was as good as any WBH I've had (which is to say I prefer traditional hummus and find this a bit boring), but the pita was excellent. Don't know that they made it themselves, but either way, it was perfectly to my taste. That dish is also served with a little olive oil. Our second snack was the pinxtos del dia which were some seasoned pork kebabs...our least favorite. It was fine, but the pork, or maybe the fried exterior, was a little rubbery, and definitely not as flavorful as I expected based on the spices it was rubbed with. Finally, we got the pork stuffed piquillos...perfect! So tasty, and kind of unique!

We shared the gazpacho, which was refreshing and tasty, and also a very good size for $8. Finally, we shared the "San Diego Sliders" which are tiny fish tacos. They are very nice and good balance of ingredients/flavors.

I also had a nice cocktail for $6...like a mojito, but with bing cherries and tangerine. And, the service was great. Granted, we were there around 6pm on a Monday, so it was not busy at all, but the bartender was super friendly and everything went along just perfectly. We definitely want to go back to try entrees!

Mar 18, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Eggs Benedict in Sacramento

I had brunch at the Capitol Garage 2 weeks ago and it was delicious. They have about 5 unusual kinds of eggs benedict. I had one with pulled pork and a chipotle hollandaise sauce. They also have $5 bottomless mimosas. Pretty generic, but hey, bottomless mimosas!

Mar 08, 2009
pkt63 in California

Restaurant Gary Danko Review - a GREAT experience

Good for you! We just went last Friday and were happy, but overall, disappointed. Here's a brief rundown of our experience. First, we were similarly warmly welcomed. Overall, service was very good and personal, although one huge disappointment was that we were really laboring over our wine selection for a long time. The staff was offering suggestions and what-not, yet it was only at the end of our meal that we discovered that it was NOT only the chef's set 5 course menu with which you could get a paired tasting, but you could also get it with the a la carte DIY option. We would have loved that, so really sad they didn't tell us, and it was not to be found on the menu (the wine tasting was only on the left page, the one with the set menu).

As for food, overall, everything was nicely done...and it was all extremeley "delicate." The flavors were just subtle and...delicate is the only way I can describe it. Too delicate for my palate. My root veggie soup was pleasant and not bland, just quiet. The foie gras was not as profound as we had hoped. The risotto uhockey speaks of was nice, but again, I just found it too subtle. First, the butternut squash, what little flecks I saw of it, was not apparent on the palate. Even the unusual anise oil surrounding the risotto was very subtle, which is a word I rarely use to describe anise.

I actually liked the guinea hen best of all our plates, although I don't disagree with uhockey's assessment. The breast was the best part. Just so tender and delicious and perfectly cooked. My husband's pheasant was just ok, and although they had warned us it was rare (which I prefer), I was still surprised at how bloody it was. It was actually really hard to cut.

Desserts were both pleasant, but not transcendental. I agree the overall value was not bad, although I left paying the same as I did for Vetri for an 8 course meal with some of the most stunning wines and courses I've ever had, so really not so impressive for us. I have a hard time comparing it to TFL or Joel Robuchon (perhaps somewhat aribtrary but these are the 4 restaurants on Gayot's "Top 40 in America" that we have been to) since those are just completely different experiences.

So, not bad certainly, but we were hoping for something more profound...

Feb 25, 2009
pkt63 in San Francisco Bay Area

SD: What's for breakfast.

Anyone been to the Bluegrass Brunch at Urban Solace? I'm going in a couple of weeks, so I'm hoping it's great. Any recs?

Feb 24, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Chinese Restaurant for a Group in OC

Hi folks,
I am looking for a decent Chinese restaurant for a group in Orange County, say somewhere between Irvine and Anaheim. The food doesn't need to be the top attraction, but just a solid place with those family style meals you can get (you know, soup, eggrolls and choose one entree per person to share), which makes it easy for group ordering. I'm going to have about 8-12 so not a very large group. Basically, just want any recommendation along those lines with decent parking. I'm planning a small family event from a distance and no one else is really into food to the extent I am, so it is more about convenience and ease than anything else. I'd sure appreciate the help because otherwise I don't know where to start!

Feb 16, 2009
pkt63 in Los Angeles Area

Valentine's Day dinner at Arterra, Del Mar

Thanks fr directing me to your thread 4wino. Sorry you also had the bad experience. Here's my review, for other future browsers: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/596369

I made my reservation through opentable and they usually ask for feedback afterward, so I am going to give them a lot! I kind of wish I had been more assertive at the time, but honestly, we were so stunned that the server basically pretended like it didn't happen, and then just to keep pointing it out (on top of the cocktail issue and I didn't even mention the overcooked tuna!) seemed too mean, I just wasn't comfortable repeatedly pointing out their faults moment after moment. So hopefully this feedback will still be helpful to them...

Feb 15, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

SD Valentine's Dinner Reviews

Anyone have a special Valentine's dinner out last night and want to share the details? We always have an interesting Valentine's dinner. Last year we had a perfect meal at El Bizcocho. Ten fun courses, excellent service, one of the best wines I've ever had. It was sublime. This year was the opposite. Farcical, in fact.

We made reservations at Arterra, having been wanting to go for a long time and their menu looked great. We arrived about 6 minutes early for our reservation and the hostess told us, "Ok, we'll have your table ready in about 5-10 minutes, at your reservation time." We were kind of put off by this. And it might not come through without the tone of voice, but it was almost like we were being chastised for being early. I tried to let it go, telling my husband that the hostess just wanted to be clear that they weren't running late, but it just seemed like it could have been a bit more gracious. I probably wouldn't even remember this now had it not been for the rest of the evening...

So, we sat and it did take a little bit long to get the part started. Didn't have the server come around for a long time, he took our water preference, then we saw him attending to various things with other tables for like a very long time before we had time to bring over a couple glasses of tap water. Again, just a touch too long for good service, but something I wouldn't remember now if it hadn't kept going downhill.

So our order was taken and we decided to have a cocktail before the courses and wine pairings began. We were chatting for a while and bread was brought over and all of a sudden, our first course arrives. So, we have our first course, but never received the cocktail AND we don't have the wines that were paired with that course. Not only that, but I didn't have a spoon for my soup. I had to yell after the food deliverer that I neded a spoon because he jetted out of there really fast. After a few minutes, a woman brought over our wine with an apology for the delay. Something about them running a bit behind - which was kind of surprising given that I would estimate about 1/3 of the tables were empty. Hmmm. We told the lady that we had also ordered a coctail, but since our first course had arrived, we'd like to cancel it.

I had broccolini soup with a Torrontes wine, which was paired very well. The soup was really creamy. Might be too much for some, but I love cream, and the Torrontes complemented it perfectly. It was very pleasant. My husband had a mediocre salad of hearts of palm, artichokes and herbs, paired with a gerwurtzraminer that was ok.

For the second course, I had a trio of ravioli and he had a trio of sausages. The ravioli was one quail egg (a little bland), one oxtail (nice and robust), and one bbq pork (a little sweet and just delicious!). The weird thing was, they poured like a whole pint of consomme on top of the ravioli. It seemed excessive. And then, they forgot my spoon again. I was eating with a fork till about halfway through the course. It was a tasty plate, though, and paired with a really nice German Riesling. My husband's sausages were kind of fun and tasty, and paired with a very nice grenache. Strangely, halfway through, the waiter brought us the cocktail we had ordered at the beginning, explaining that we were't going to be charged for it. A nice gesture, but we just didn't want it at that point.

Third course (mains), the waiter came and asked me if I had had the Riesling with my raviolis. I said yes, and he said I could have it again with the tuna or something else. I guess I appreciate the flexibility, but was just surprised the main pairing for two dishes of different courses was the same. He offered a sake, and I thought that sounded like fun, so I went for it. It was slightly sparkling, but he shook it a bit to mix up some sediment in the bottom...which resulted in like a ten minute drama of trying to open the bottle without an explosion, and pour a glass with enough actual liquid, instead of just foam, that I could try it. It was really interesting. Smelled like candy. It was fine with the tuna, which was steamed. Unfortunately, while one piece of tuna did at least have a rare pink center, the other piece was completely cooked through and looked like slab of chicken. I still thought it tasted ok, but I am pretty sure it shouldn't have been cooked that much. My husband had the chicken sous-vide with black truffle stuffing. He couldn't eat it at all. It smelled and tasted like chemicals. We automatically thought of the plastic bag it was cooked in. One reason was we had just gotten a new shower curtain that day and it smelled and tasted just like our new curtain smelled when we unfurled it and hung it in the bathroom - you know that new plastic smell. How bizarre is that? The poor truffles tasted super plasticky too. Not earthy or bold at all. Just chemicals. So we told the waiter that it was weird and off and not right and how you could even smell it (I kind of wanted him to smell it so he'd knowwe weren't making it up), but he was like, "I don't think I even want to smell it!" and said he'd go tell the chef and see what he said. He never came back, though, and the entree sat in front of my husband for a very long time until a busser finally came and took it away. Our server finally returned to set us for dessert, and then didn't say a word about the chicken. I think we were both so surprised, we didn't ask before he walked away. I thought that was a real shame, but maybe they had just decided to comp a portion of my husband's meal given that he ate very little of it, and we'd find out when they brought the bill.

So, I decided to visit the ladies' room and when I got back, both dessert and the paired wines had been delivered. I was kind of stunned again. Like, I don't mind that at a cafe or coffee shop (in fact, when I was little, I'd always go to the bathroom while waiting for food, because I was hoping the food would be there when I got back!). But when you are going to one of the top restaurants (quote-unquote) in San Diego, they shouldn't serve your food and wine while you are away for a moment. I still don't know what my paired wine was for that course.

The desserts were tasty (it would take a lot for me to dislike dessert) but unremarkable. And when the bill came, there was still no mention of our chicken. I guess we kind of gave up at that point. I felt we had made it quite clear that the chicken was unacceptable and if they didn't follow up at all, I guess it showed how little putting out excellent food mattered to them. Quite a disappointment. Also, there were at least 3 times when my husband's water glass went empty for a while.

So, the night was definitely farcical. I mean, some of it was truly disappointing, like the chicken, and keeping water filled. Other parts were more just laughable like the random late delivery of the free drink and the exploding sake, which I would normally let go had it not been such a confluence of all these events. All I can say is that, clearly, the food, the service, just the culture of the place, did not seem on par with other top San Diego restaurants, such as Tapenade and El Bizcocho, to me. I know this place must not always be like this, not even close, but I just can't believe how wrong and weird it was at EVERY turn.

Hope some of you have some better stories!

Feb 15, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

San Diego Sandwich Spots people like

Chez Nous in Scripps Ranch off Carrol Canyon. Lots of delicious sandwiches and so fresh. Leg of Lamb is fantastic if you are feeling really carniorous. Love the chicken salad with curry in it. Pastrami is great. Spicy chicken is tasty, too! They also have excellent soups. Had a great lentil cashew the other day. The salads are fresh and good, but they are comparatively exensive, I think, so I always go for soup and/or sandwich.

Feb 15, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

San Diego Closed restaurants from the Down Economy

Well, technically, and emotionally, California rolls ARE sushi. They not only meet the definition, but my grandparents (1st generation, sent to the internment camps and everything) always made California rolls, or similar, for big parties when I was little. They are really easy to make large quantities of, and are a Japanese family party classic.

Feb 09, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Whisknladle (SD)--What Did I Miss?

The times I have been there I have really enjoyed it. I sat on the patio, where the music did not even enter my senses. Our service was almost excellent; nothing bad happened, I just don't give out top ratings easily. Our server was knowledgeable, friendly and helpful and I should give the one extra points for dealing generously with a group of 10 women who all wanted to pay separately. I haven't been since summer, so the menu is a little different now, but at the time, the pork belly was excellent, as were the sweetbreads and my friend had a tasty lamb. There was something else that we were all dying over, but I can't remember it now. Also, their cocktails are inventive and tasty. Sorry you had a bad experience. But, the place does have its merits!

Feb 09, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Lone Pine CA suggestions

The local franchise of PIzza Factory is REALLY worth a stop. We plan to pass through at a time to eat a meal there, so I disagree that Lone Pine is hopeless. Specifically, their veggie pizza (or any type of pizza that includes lot sof veggies) is great. The veggies are pretty fresh, they don't overcook them, the pizza is hand-tossed and it is just wholesome. If you are hungry, there is no reason to pass this by (I also think it's a smidge better than it's bigger brother in Bishop).

Feb 01, 2009
pkt63 in California

San Diego Chocolatiers?

and their website is down, so it seems like they may actually be gone. Too bad. I loved their drinking chocolate.

Jan 26, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

San Diego Restaurant Week 2009

Notwithstanding my earlier post semi-condeming RW, I actually ended up going. We took my neighbor out to thank her for cat-sitting, so it was fun to share it with someone else who doesn't get out to restaurants much, although I still wouldn't just go with my husband.

We went to La Bastide, which is 1/2 mile from my home. I realized it's such a shame we don't visit more often. They have a lovely tapas-style menu that I want to go back for and our experience that night was 4...ok, 4.25 out of 5 stars. The downers were it took quite a while for the server to get to us. I am pretty patient with this, and still it was long. They were quite busy, and it disturbs me when places don't staff properly for these kind of things. But, in LB's case, it was just a smidge beyond what would have been proper. There were a couple other minor instances of this, like water refills and bread. But overall, it was to a minor degree and I know their service is quite up to standard in general. The other downer was the cassoulet of duck confit with white beans. It was a fine duck, but overall, rather bland.

Everything else was wonderful. The mussels (which, having gotten sick on them as a kid I have never completely come back around to - that night though got me real close!), my salad with goat chese croutons was Divine with a capital D, my bacon-wrapped fish was just about perfect, and I loved the fruit clafoutis. My husband's creme brulee was tasty and my neighbor adored her chocolate mousse. RW did its job, at least, in reminding me I need to take advantage of this restaurant more often. And since i can walk there and back, maybe I won't have to feel guilty about the calories!

Jan 19, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

San Diego Restaurant Week 2009

Well, to be fair, the parameters do say that the diner should specifically ask for the RW menu. However, his statement about "most restaurant" only doing RW before 5pm and after 10pm is patently false! I've never heard of that at a single other place. I agree, someone so resentful of RW just shouldn't have their resto participate.

Jan 13, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Has anyone been to Ritual Tavern yet? (SD)

Don't forget O'Brien's. It's Clairemont Mesaarea, so a little drive maybe, but not so far as Solana or Escondido!

Also, these places don't serve food, but AleSmith, Lightning and Ballast Point all have tasting rooms and/or their main facilities around Miramar/Poway areas.

Jan 13, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Anniversary in SD - food the priority

I would recommend both Tapenade and El Bizcocho. At Tapenade, their mushroom ravioli is to die for and the chef's tasting I did there a year ago was fabulous - so much so that we hosted our own post-wedding dinner there for 30 people. At EB, we had an amazing 10-course meal there last year for Valentine's Day. I haven't been to Addison, but it's on my list!

Jan 09, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

Mo's Island Grinds San Diego

Looks like Mo's Island Grinds is shut down. Apparently they had some pretty serious violations from the health department. Reportedly, the restaurants on either side (Todo Sushi and Chez Nous) were being impacted by some of the practices at Mo's as well. They were given a few days to clean it up, it didn't get done and the Health Dept. shut them down...

Jan 09, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego

San Diego Restaurant Week 2009

That's such a shame! My experience at Blanca was 100x better than at Market. Mostly the service was a lot better, but the food was more well-crafted and exciting at Blanca as well. I've been meaning to go back to Market, but it left a bad taste in our mouths (NPI) at the time so it's hard to get motivated.

Jan 09, 2009
pkt63 in San Diego