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One Perfect Dinner

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I'll be hosting about 3 or 4 clients next month in San Diego and am looking for the perfect dining spot. We'll all be staying in the downtown area with meetings at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

These are clients I've wined and dined in the past at Nob Hill and Simon's Kitchen & Bar in Las Vegas and Dish in Atlanta, among other places around the country. With clients coming from the Northwest where food is as fresh as it gets, I'm looking for a place that is innovative over artifice, where the chef is skilled, experienced and creative. Any suggestions for the perfect spot? Oh, yes, some place with a discerning yet reasonable wine list. (The last bottle I ordered at one of these dinners was the price of a pair of Jimmy Choos.)

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I don't know that you'll find the perfect spot. You might consider Region, although it's a little drive from downtown, and I would not call it elegant at all. http://www.regionrestaurant.com/ The food is very fresh and good in a sort of Alice Waters wannabe way. If you want fancy and downtown, the Star of the Sea Room has received some very nice reviews lately. They made me want to go back after a lot of years. It's almost all seafood. http://www.starofthesea.com/ Azzura Point at the Loews Resort on Coronado is also good if you don't mind driving over there. There are the usual chain steak houses, and also Bertrand's at Mr. A's. But remember, it's San Diego, not San Francisco or Las Vegas. You could do better if you drive to La Jolla, but it is a bit of a drive.

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Thanks for the input! What's not to be missed in La Jolla (if we get so inclined and rent a limo for the group)? :biggrin:

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I liked Indigo Grill very much. It's in Little Italy, which is near Downtown. I think it qualifies as "a place that is innovative over artifice, where the chef is skilled, experienced and creative," but some might consider some of the innovations artifice; that's a subjective question, in my opinion. I didn't have wine there and see a link to their menu but not their wine list on their web page (if this link doesn't open, try http://www.cohnrestaurants.com and click on the Indigo Grill icon). The food is certainly fresh, but the place has a trendy rather than sedate businesslike atmosphere (though the music was nowhere close to being too loud for normal-toned conversation with the guy sitting next to me at the bar), and the portions are just exceptionally huge. Have a look at the comments by Catherine Nash and me in the above-linked thread before you consider getting reservations there.


Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan

 

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In La Jolla, take a look at George's at the Cove, the Marine Room and Tapenade. They have been discussed on here and all have websites.

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I liked Indigo Grill very much.

I'm afraid I can't share the same enthusiasm for Indigo Grill. Other than their very excellent butternut squash soup, my experiences there have been quite disappointing. Last time I was there I had some fish dish that I have since blotted from my memory. The fish was so overcooked and dry that I needed to sip from my glass to be able to swallow it.

When our server came by and asked how everything was I really wasn't in a mood to cause a fuss so I said, " O.K., thanks". But she caught on that something wasn't right. I insisted that things were fine, yet she persisted in torturing me until I confessed. She immediately ran to inform the manager who then came to our table. I praised the soup, told him I had eaten enough and that it was no big deal. He persisted. "What would you like? Do you like ribs? If you don't tell me what you want I'm going to bring you ribs. "(a specialty apparently). He brought me ribs. And -- ready for the punchline? -- they were some of the most disappointing ribs I've ever had. Also, I don't think they have a very extensive wine list.

As for places I can recommend... downtown, I liked Chive for the food, but their wine list is not very extensive.

A bit more uptown is Bertrand's at Mr. A's . The view is great, the food is good, the wine list is more respectable, but it's a bit old school with white linen tablecloths, tuxedoed staff, conservative decor -- in short, a bit stuffy.

A bit further uptown is perhaps my very favorite restaurant in San Diego, Parallel 33 . It's small, hip, funky, warm, comfortable, friendly -- the staff is great -- and the food is terrific. The wine list is not extensive, but it is well considered.

If you wanted to make your way all the way up to LaJolla, there are a number of restaurant options, some already mentioned, to which I will add a more casual, though tasty choice, the adobe el restaurante in the Estancia Hotel & Spa.

David

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If you don't mind driving up north a bit, I'd consider two restaurants in Del Mar. They are both in hotels but offer some of the best fine dining in the San Diego area. Arterra in the Marriott was founded by Bradley Ogden and A.R. Valentien in the gorgeous Lodge at Torrey Pines are two of my favorite special occasion restaurants.

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If you don't mind driving up north a bit, I'd consider two restaurants in Del Mar.  They are both in hotels but offer some of the best fine dining in the San Diego area.  Arterra in the Marriott was founded by Bradley Ogden and A.R. Valentien in the gorgeous Lodge at Torrey Pines are two of my favorite special occasion restaurants.

Someone else just mentioned two restaurants that I'd like to run past this group:

Chive & Chloe. What do you know about these two? :unsure:

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I would encourage you to try both of them, but neither is really my idea of a business dinner place, especially Chloe. Chive might work if the people are young and hip though.

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Chloe is wonderful, but not for large groups. They only have one large table that seats six or so. I do like the food at Chive(full disclosure: I worked briefly in their kitchen) but the atmosphere is definitely energetic and young. Laurel Restaurant might be a good choice. It's owned by the same group at Chive and has great decor and a nice menu.

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