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La Valencia on 9.22.13 (because it will change a lot)

I will not go into the La Valencia....They fired the long-time French GM Patrick Halcewicz in the 90's and slowly got rid of all the great long term employees. You can find most of them at Manhattan in LJ or at the French Market Grill in Poway. The Collins were ok owners. but out of touch. New owners are treating the La V as an asset manager would manage an office bldg.

Won't go into Manchester properties for the same reason

May 27, 2014
buzznutter in San Diego

Casual Date Night in North County SD

quero or sea and smoke would work

Apr 06, 2014
buzznutter in San Diego

The Hake. Yes, very much.

The Hake has a way to go. Tough location, valet parking almost mandatory. Went for lunch on a weekday, perhaps not the best time to evaluate a restaurant.

Really pleasant brasserie decor, with none of the energy of a real brasserie.. Staff standing around, 40 minutes until we received our entree. To be fair, it was lunch, and the crowd was definitely out of towners. Wine service was overly formal and took forever. Food was ok, the sashimi was very good, the rest was meh.

At least for lunch, Papa Doug's Amaya across the street serves better luncheon fare.....if you can get past the over the top decor.

Perhaps if we had gone for dinner, The Hake would have more energy. If they are going to make it, they will need local patronage, which is in short supply in La Jolla, especially on Prospect St.

Aug 01, 2013
buzznutter in San Diego

Pantry in RSF: New Owner

The Pantry has always been a go to for our family. Great burgers, good salads, eclectic wine list, great patio and nice people.

Disturbing dinner last night. Staff gone, choppy service, inexperienced servers, food not up to par. I guess we owe the new owner some time to smooth things out, but last night was not encouraging.

Mar 02, 2013
buzznutter in San Diego

Nice dinner in Rancho Bernardo

The RB Inn is still owned by the Colachis family. The new chef is Nick Boer, who is a real talent. The restaurant is going to be remodeled early next year. My most recent meal was on a par with Gavin Kaysen's food.

The Inn's owners have a long tradition of hiring great culinarians, boing back to the 70's. Don't coin t El Biz out!

Oct 12, 2011
buzznutter in San Diego

Where are some of your favorite places to have lunch in SD?

There are a number of hotels that have great outdoor dining venues. The Veranda at Rancho Bernardo Inn, 1540 at L'auberge Del Mar, Torrey Pines Inn, plus I like sitting outside at Blue Ribbon Pizza

May 05, 2011
buzznutter in San Diego

My latest Conundrum

I have done big tasting menus all over the world....Charlie Trotters, Taillevent, French Laundry etc. I am not a big fan...especially with wines attached. A five course tasting menu is plent for me.

Jul 19, 2010
buzznutter in San Diego

My latest Conundrum

Had an incredible dinner at El Biz...every bit as good as when Gavin Kaysen was there. The five course tasting menu was plenty, and a good value ($95). The presentations were completely "deconstructed"...which was a contrast to the staid ambiance of the dining room.

Normally I would include more details on the food, but it has been a week, and the food presented on the plate would be hard to describe under the best of circumstances. Easily one of the best meals I have eaten in San Diego, dating back 25 years.

Perhaps someone who dines there should take some pictures, words don't do the flavors and presentation justice.

El Bizcocho
17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr, San Diego, CA 92128

Jul 15, 2010
buzznutter in San Diego

San Diego Molecular Gastronomy

Rojas had interesting food, and yes their business is way down,but don't write off the El Bizcocho. The RB Inn's ownership has a long history of hiring excellent chefs: Andre Mena, Christian Gaborit, Jacques Cornelis, Patrick Ponsetay, Gavin Kaysen etc. Rojas was a mistake. They will be back.

Dec 02, 2009
buzznutter in San Diego

Worst of San Diego and Most Over-rated

I am late to this board but I wanted to put in my two cents:

95% of restaurant patrons (including foodies) dine locally. With the .08 drunk driving laws and our busy freeways, there are considerable barriers for any restaurant to overcome.

Tapenade, Cavaillon and El Bizcocho get almost all of their local patrons from their own backyard Advertising does not work for high end restaurants. Hiring a PR firm doesn't work like it did ten years ago. Having a great website (Like Jayne's Gastropub) helps to create a community of loyal patrons, but it is still local.

By the way, don't dismiss the El Biz due to Stephen Rojas or Gavin Kaysen leaving. That restaurant has had a long history of hiring great culinarians. I had a great dinner out there last week. They have an executive chef who used to be at La Valencia, and he is holding the fort down nicely

Jul 31, 2009
buzznutter in San Diego

San Diego/La Jolla & Soccer Tornament

My daughter plays for Surf. It's funny how most parents are when travelling to out of town tournaments and you don't get to eat where you want to (must keep the team together!). If I have to eat at Bucco de Beppo (you can always find one in upscale suburbs where most girl's soccer is played) I am going to kill myself!

Jan 30, 2008
buzznutter in California

San Diego/La Jolla & Soccer Tornament

I have used this site for many soccer tournaments. We got rained out at WAGS one year and ended up on our own eating many wonderful meals.

Assuming that you are eating with the team for all meals (except the one with your son) and you are on a budget, I would suggest the following:

In & Out Burger: A california icon a couple of exits south of the UCSD campus

Roberto's: Great take out mexican a couple of miles north on the southern edge of Del Mar

Pat & Oscars is a good choice for a team dinner

The food court at the UTC mall. Many choices and kids love a mall on a soccer trip

Asian Food: check out the threads on this site for dining in Clairemont Mesa..there are many fine choices: China Max is located close of of the 56 freeway and 15 minutes from UCSD

The strip mall on Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla: Rimels (good seafood and grilled chicken), Porkyland (great mexican) and a great little neighborhood joint: Come on In, which is very nice for breakfast.

For Mom & son: Tapenade (french) Roppongi (fusion) or Nine- Ten in the Colonial Hotel

Best of luck in the tournament, Hope many college coaches are there to watch!

Jan 29, 2008
buzznutter in California

Where to stay in San Diego to be near good food?

I eat at Jake's a couple of times a year. It isn't Tapenade, but I find the food and service very solid. The great view tends to minimize the sensory experience with the food and wine. I find the same thing to be true of many restaurants with spetacular views.

The core experience of San Diego's best restaurants are on the plate. The ambiance in these restaurants are typically tastefully decorated but neutral in decor.

Might make a good topic in a separte thread

Nov 01, 2007
buzznutter in California

High end and innovative in SD?

Gavin is still at El Biz for a couple of more weeks. Better go while you can.

I expect that the folks who run the hotel to come up with someone who can perform at a high level (likely without Gavin's personality). They have been hiring great culinarians since the mid seventies

Oct 15, 2007
buzznutter in California

Old Trieste in SD is...old...

Old Trieste might be the last of the old-line restaurants left in San Diego (remember Lubach's?). Old Trieste is still a pretty good call when you are out on a Saturday and don't have a reservation somewhere. Their liver and onions are outstanding...the last time I was there, half the orders were liver and onions and all of the cars out front were cadillacs and lincoln continentals. The clientele averages 70+.

Sep 24, 2007
buzznutter in San Diego

Dinner before concert at San Diego State

Thanks to all for the suggestions. We ended up at King's Fish House in Mission Valley. It was a safe choice, but a good one. The restaurant is owned by Santa Monica Seafood, and the fish is always perfect.

Aug 28, 2007
buzznutter in California

Dinner before concert at San Diego State

Living in the North County, I am unfamiliar with the restaurant scene near S.D State. Looking for something chowish, with friends flying in that day for the Wilco concert. Thanks in advance for any help.

Aug 21, 2007
buzznutter in California

Worst of San Diego and Most Over-rated

Here is my North County list for overrated:

Sbicca: (I just don't get it)
Paradise Grille: No redeeming qualities
Pamplemousse (the entrees are ok, but add a starter and dessert, it is way overpriced and I always feel a little queasy afterward).
Fidel's (as bad as Old Town Mex). Don Chuy and Tony's are far superior.
Papachino's (does anyone local ever go there?) How do they stay in business?
Pacific Coast Grill (kind of like a Cohn restaurant concept)
Parioli (going down hill for years)

Jul 09, 2007
buzznutter in San Diego

Suggestions for upscale San Diego restaurant

The chef at El Bizcocho was named on of America's top new chefs in Food and Wine magazine, and is the first ever named in San Diego while cooking here (per the S.D Union. Here is the blurb in Food & Wine:

Gavin Kaysen, El Bizcocho (San Diego, CA)
After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, Gavin Kaysen, 27, traveled to Switzerland to work under chef Jacky Vuillet at Auberge de Lavaux and then to London to work at the Michelin-starred L'Escargot with Marco Pierre White. In 2002, he returned to the United States and began working at El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and within two years was named chef de cuisine. Kaysen’s menu is French-inspired and fanatically seasonal.

El Bizcocho is a bit stuffy, but if you are looking for interesting food, it is the best choice in San Diego.

Apr 12, 2007
buzznutter in San Diego

Best Burgers and Fresh Fries in San Diego?

Up in the North County, Chief's in Solana Beach is very good. For a quick burger fix at home, we like Bubba Burgers (yeah, they are frozen) which you can buy at any grocery store. Get a great bun and you can pile everything on them. Once you try them, you might never bbq a burger at home again.

Mar 22, 2007
buzznutter in San Diego

Paradise Grill--Del Mar....Any Feedback?

Instead of the neighborhood potluck christmas party, we went down to Paradise Grille. I had not been there for 6 months, as we had given up on the place. Pretty restaurant, nice concept, but uninspired food.

We spend $110 per person (sounds hard to do, but we drank some pretty good wine) and the wine was the only thing decent about the place. Jerk chicken was dry, the steaks were overcooked, the salads were run of the mill, just totally mediocre.

I hate to say it, but for the price, I would rather go to Papa chino's, the other mediocre eatery in the mall. Paradise Grille is just missing the mark, although they seem to be busy enough.

I won't be back until there is a change of chef or ownership.

Dec 25, 2006
buzznutter in California

Bernard O's and the French Market Grille

I have always found Bernard's to be wildly inconsistent. The new chef at Bernardo's is talented, but has bounced around town with a number of different restaurants. He should really help the food there.

French Market Grille is always on the money, and is one of the best neighborhood restaurants in the County.

Dec 19, 2006
buzznutter in California

Birdrock area

Maitre D has been around for twenty years. I am unsure if they are still open on a regular basis. The venue is great for private parties. The restaurant used to be run by Louis Zelejack and his partner. Louis was the Maitre'd at the El Bizcocho at Rancho Bernardo Inn and also at Arnauds in New Orleans. He was a great old school hospitality guy. I am unsure if he is still running the place, as he has to be in his late 70's by now. The food (this is going back 15 years) is old school continental.

Nov 29, 2006
buzznutter in California

Birdrock area

"Los Dos" is a very popular Taco stand across from the grocery store.

For all the dough in La Jolla, most of the restaurantrs in the Village are supported by visitors.

Birdrock restaurants just aren't supported by locals. The old "Ocean Fresh" site (which burned down) was the site of at least five restaurants (BBQ, fish, japanese, california cuisine). In the end, none of the failed restaurants in Birdrock were any good, save for Cindy Black's.

Pernicano's (aka the "Pizza Boat") is known for the gondola in the middle of the dining room that kids play in. The pizza is awful, but tolerable when you have a bunch of kids hungry after a soccer game.

Nov 29, 2006
buzznutter in California

Solana Beach: Black Horse Grille Becoming Market Restaurant

We live nearby, and dropped into Blackhorse a month ago, expecting to order our usual hamburger and bottle of zin. The restaurant has been taken over by the chef at Arterra (the name escapes me).

The menu has been completely retooled. We had a wonderful tomato soup (broth based) with Chino's vegtables and very good short ribs. Of course, our dinner was $140 instead of $80.

My hope is that the final product for Market Restaurant will end up being a nieghborhood place with high quality and value, rather than another pricey alternative to Pamplemousse, Mille Fleur and Blanca.

Oct 17, 2006
buzznutter in California

Donovan's in La Jolla-best steakhouse in SD?

Donavon's does a nice job, but let's face it, the ambiance at all of the high end steak houses are pretty boring. Consider Red Tracton's on Via de la Valle: Totally old school, great steaks, green goddess dressing (I miss the 70's) and some very interesting dining patrons. The last time I was there the piano man was playing a musak version of "Doctor in my eyes".

Oct 12, 2006
buzznutter in California

Best Lobster in San Diego

The best lobster eating experience is the lobster with snow peas and a vanilla sauce at Tapenade in La Jolla.

Oct 05, 2006
buzznutter in California

Savory of Encinitas

Savory was great when it first opened. Then it became impossible to get a reservation. Demand allowed them to raise their prices. Three years ago there was no quality "bistro priced" restaurants in the North County. Now we have Cavaillon, Bastide and Blackhorse Grille. I have no quarrel with the food at Savory, but they have raised their prices 30-50% with no change in the quality of their food.

Sep 26, 2006
buzznutter in San Diego

Restaurant at La Jolla Cove?

The Sky Room at the La Valencia is a great old school spot, which would be especially good for your older guests. Traditional formal service in a room that seats about 30 diners.

It's located on the top floor of the hotel. The food is credible, and the ambiance is wonderful.

Sep 12, 2006
buzznutter in California


I attended a wedding at the Admiral Kidd Club a couple of weeks ago. I have lived in San Diego for 30 years and had never been there. It is a nice venue. The wedding was fairly upscale. The apps were run of the mill, and were right out of the Cisco truck. The entree was chicken, and it was memorable: a mystery sauce and an incredible amount of salt. One of the worst things I have eaten in the past decade. Really awful!

That said, you could probably make it work if you had something like prime rib.

Hope this helps.

Aug 17, 2006
buzznutter in San Diego