Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Taste of Downtown San Diego

A Taste of Downtown is next Thursday! Are you going??? I’ll be there; I love these events. It’s so cool to get to have just a taste of something from a restaurant that you love, or a sample from a restaurant that interests you.

A Taste of Downtown will feature offerings from over 55 amazing restaurants from the Gaslamp Quarter, East Village, and the Financial District. You can order tickets at Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. The event begins as 5pm and last until 9pm.

See you there!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Princess Pub

Fish and chips might be my favorite bar food. Sure, I love a good burger every now and then, but come on, fish and chips is FRIED! And it’s fish, so I can convince myself that it is kind of healthy. So of course, I’ve been searching for the best fish and chips in San Diego (yes, I’m obsessed with finding the “best” wherever I go).

I had heard good things about the Princess Pub located in Little Italy, and happened to find myself standing in front of it while taking a summer stroll. So we decided that this would be the night we tried it out.

The décor is what one would expect from a faux English pub – beer signs, some neon, and lots of gold and red. Stereotypes aside, the bar was clean and had a respectable selection of beers on tap. We ordered a Boddington’s and Guinness, since these are necessary for correct consumption of fish and chips. The beers were not badly priced either, and the Guinness was poured correctly (I’m still not sure what’s “proper”, but it sure tasted good).

We were soon served the anticipated fish and chips with a salad to be healthy (ha!). The salad was a typical salad served in a bar: iceberg lettuce, some tomatoes, a few cucumbers, and red cabbage. Nothing to write home about, but it was what I expected.

The fish and chips was quite good, with a nice crusty batter on the fish, and a good flavor. Served with a mound of handcut fries, and cole slaw (I did not taste this – I hate slaw), it was one of the better fish and chips I’ve had on the West Coast. However, the portion size of the fish was a bit lacking, particularly considering the price. One large piece of fish is not the typical offering, but with the same trend happening at other pubs, like Shakespeare’s I worry that the plates will indeed become smaller.

All in all, I’d certainly return when I hanker some fried fish goodness. So far, this place has the best fish and chips that I’ve had on the West Coast, but I think to get the real deal, I’ll have to head East, like 3000 miles East!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cardamom Cafe

I’ve been hearing through various food blogs and word of mouth that Cardamom was a little jewel of a place tucked into the North Park-South Park area. Intrigued, I was determined to check it out. After all, it’s my belief that San Diego is the breakfast capital of the US, so there’s so stiff competition to stand out amongst such greats as Hash House, Big Kitchen, and Café 222.

It was a Saturday morning, early, so the place wasn’t crowded at all, a welcome change from the bustle of the previously mentioned spots. After thoughtful examination of the menu, we decided to order the North Park omelet, which normally contains cheese, onions, mushrooms, green pepper, and turkey sausage. Guess what we asked to be omitted? The onions! Not an onion fan at all!

I had heard wonderful things about their baked goods, so we decided to order a chocolate croissant and an almond croissant. Believe me, it was hard to not order the delicious-sounding crepe-like bliss cakes as well (maybe next time?).

Our pastries were brought out after a quick warming, and not only were they delicious, they were huge!!! The pastries were obviously homemade, with the almond croissant containing slivered almonds and marzipan on the inside, rich flaky crust on the outside. The chocolate was very decadent, oozing with melty chocolate with the same crust as the almond. They certainly lived up to the hype.

Our omelet came out next, and while it was good, it did not measure up to the pastries. Everything was fresh and well-cooked, and I was thankful for the protein after such a carb high. The vegetables were nice and just a bit crispy, and the sausage freshly cooked. Don’t get me wrong, this omelet and the accompanying home fries were terrific, but after the pastries, it just paled.

The staff were extremely friendly and attentive, so no complaints there.

All in all, definitely worth a revisit, just to try those bliss cakes!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sushi Ota

I really hate to write bad reviews, particularly when I look forward to trying a new place. However, I have to be truthful, so I'll give the details. There was good, there was bad. What was good was very good, what was bad was...well, bad.

We were in the mood for sushi -- good sushi. After hearing how good that they were, we decided that tonight was the evening that we would try Sushi Ota in Pacific Beach. Parking can be a bit dicey given its location in a tiny strip mall, but we found street parking easily enough on a Thursday evening. However, on a Friday night, the parking gods may not be so forgiving.

It was about 5:30 when we arrived (yes, we are 80) for dinner. The restaurant was mostly empty, with more employees than customers; however, there was a small crowd of people waiting to be seated. We waited politely while the hostess checked over the reservations. Two people? Like, tonight? Here? Eyerolls, then "well, we'll do you a favor and allow you to eat, but you must be gone by 6:45." Wha? I don't believe that I've ever had a hostess be so rude to me in my life. If there's no table, no problem. I understand that restaurants reserve tables, and sometimes can't accommodate walk-ins, but really?

However, starving and feeling brave, we went ahead took the proffered table, with the waitstaff glaring. As she took our order, the server again reminded us that we needed to leave by the appointed time. Sorry that we came!

We ordered salads and miso, along with some tuna nigiri, California rolls and a spicy tuna roll. Everything was very good. The fish was wonderfully fresh and delicious. The miso was rich and flavorful, and the house salad, with a tangy homemade dressing, might have been the best part of the meal.

However, despite the good food, the service and their curt manner was abominable. We finished ahead of the clock, and as we were leaving, yet _another_ remark was made about our timed meal.

Never again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hodad's -- The Return

If you read this blog regularly, you might remember the post that I did last year on the semi-famous San Diego burger joint, Hodad’s. I won’t link to it, but suffice to say, it was not a positive review. Yeah, I got some flack for it, but it just wasn’t a good experience at all. However, the rush of “how could you’s” led me to think that perhaps it was just an off night. So it was with some trepidation that I visited their newly opened location in San Diego’s Gaslamp District.

The dining area was spacious and very clean, with surfboards as tables. Neat. The décor with license plates from every state keeps with the original Ocean Beach location.

We were in the mood for burgers and shakes (hence, our trip to Hodad’s – what else do you get there?), and we ordered cheeseburgers with a vanilla and chocolate shake. The burgers and fries appeared before the shakes, but the shakes were worth waiting for. Made with real ice cream, they were HUGE! One shake is definitely enough for two people.

And the burgers were great! Certainly worthy of all of the hype that I’ve been hearing. Fresh and cooked to order, these really hit the spot with some of their wedge fries.

So here’s my apology, Hodad’s. You have more than redeemed yourselves, and I love the new location!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Starlite for Dinner

I love their drinks, I love their location, I love their vibe. But would I love their food? I had a gift card for Starlite courtesy of LocalEats (a fantastic gift card service!), so I needed to remedy the situation.

We went for dinner on a Tuesday evening, and as expected, the restaurant wasn't packed, but was respectably busy for an early weeknight. The decor inside is lovely, with low lights and a quiet atmosphere, it's reminiscent of a club that would belong on the holodeck of the Enterprise. And yes, that's a strong compliment.
We were seated immediately and ordered one of their amazing mules. When you go to Starlite, you just have to order the mule (well, unless you don't drink alcohol, then enjoy your club soda, Mr. Temperance). After some perusing of the menu, we decided to go with the flat iron steak with vegetables, and the special creamy risotto.

The steak was well-prepared and tender, but the flavor was what I would describe as "meh." The side serving of vegetables were good, but ultimately, forgettable.

The risotto was swimming in a creamy sauce with little flavor, and sprinkled a bit too generously with chives and onions. The result was an odd, almost metallic flavor. I gave up halfway through deeming it not worth the calories.

Our plan was to get dessert, but with the food being so lackluster, we decided to skip it.
The service was great, as always, very friendly and prompt, without being overly involved. The food at Starlite, while passable, was nothing special, particularly considering how well-executed their drinks are. It seems that it might be a better plan to get drinks at Starlite and head over to one of the Little Italy establishments or El Indio for dinner.