Friday, September 29, 2006


For the birthday itself, we decided to go somewhere close by in North Park. First choice was Spread, but unfortunately they were closed this very day, catering an event in Los Angeles. Second choice was Terra (we had a coupon and really enjoyed the quality of their breakfast ) unfortunately Thursdays is BBq and blues night at Terra, not so good for the vegetarians. Browsing through uptown magazine at our coupons we came (not for the first time) upon Hawthornes. My wife had previously called and asked about vegetarian options only to be told there were none available. Still it seemed worth calling again, (if for no other reason that repeated phone calls might make them reconsider their menu). So she called, and was pleasantly surprised that they offered to create something for her in the kitchen. After this we couldn't very well not pay them a visit and so we headed off.
Hawthornes always looks so attractive from the street, the bright white lights and the clean linens making a nice contrast with a shabby North Park. Being attached to the theatre this dictated the decor, and shots of actors adorned all the walls.
the menu at Hawthornes is not extensive and focuses on very traditional dishes. My wife of course was taken care of by the kitchen and was served with some fusilli, artichoke hearts, shitakke mushrooms, and white asparagus. I opted for the Fettucini with clams- this was enjoyable although a little dull. Perhaps the fault of a poor choice on my part.
The service at the restaurant was incredibly friendly, and our waitress seemed great at first. Unfortunate she however used the whole- 'I don't need to write things down on paper' approach, and then summarily forgot many of our requests and orders.
For dessert we ordered a cheesecake , which was really excellent, probably the highly of the meal.
Definitely enjoyed Hawthorne's will come back and order something more exciting next time (although as I mentioned, this may be tricky.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Birthday Meal

Well the birthday is coming up this week and I think we have been persuaded by all the kind posters to go to Paralell 33. Now we are just deciding on whether to go the actual birthday date, or if to wait and go on Saturday when we can relax a bit more.
I'll definitely post how it all goes (and try to remember my camera).

Monday, September 25, 2006


Well my poor wife called me at 5 yesterday, desperate for a ride home and some food. She had been running around like a madwoman and hadn't eaten since the night before, a migraine fast approaching she needed feeding fast. We briefly considered old town, but then thought of the poor service that we have encountered there before- Gulf Coast Grill was another option, but I think we have eaten the same three menu items there enough times to be pretty sick and tired of them by now! She said she felt like a burger, and so where better than Islands in Mission Valley. I like Islands because it always has great fast service, you can get a whole wheat bun, and the different selections of burgers are very interesting.
Happily we were not disappointed- when asked what could be on our table within 2 minutes, our server responded with some chips salsa and guacamole in a matter of seconds. I enjoyed some Hawaiian burger and my wife went for the Blunami- (basically a veggie patties with blue cheese and a few other fixings). We shared a basket of fries, and as usual with Islands came no where close to finishing.
So Islands saved the day- not the best burgers in town, but always reliably good, parking is never a problem (except I guess during a Chargers game) and the service is always good. The only bad thing I can really say is the irritating love song music and the endless videos of surfers.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sunday Brunch at the Beach House

First let me say how much I adore the Sunday Brunch Master site. The perfect site that I wish I had the time an patience to create! Congrats to Jim, that site is amazing.

Anyway, browsing through the Site we searched for a place to go on Sunday morning. The beautiful day clearly called for a view and preferably outdoor seating. We had some time on our hands and planned to visit the beach afterwards, so we settled on the Beach House in Cardiff. Best decision ever!

The Beach house outdoor seating is located to all intents and purposes actually on the beach, a beautiful view of the sea, and less developed area than San Diego bay views. The service was absolutely impeccable We were seated immediately and then treated to the complimentary champagne, which, bottomless, was refilled extremely regularly. The brunch also comes with complimentary pastries and a bowl of fresh fruit. The pastries could have been fresher, but were still a very nice touch.

Choosing our breakfast entree I decided to branch out and try the lobster benedict. My wife went for the Ranchers omelet. Both dishes were great, the lobster benedict came with an orange hollandaise, a very interesting touch, and perfectly cooked eggs. The ranchers omelet was packed with asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and many other delicious veggies.

We lingered long enjoying our brunch, the sunshine and the amazing view and finished our meal with a wonderful cup of coffee. The best surprise of the meal was yet to come with the check- only $34. That's for 2 huge entrees, pastries, fresh fruit bowls, endless champagne and delicious coffee. Surely the best value meal I have had in a long time.

We spent the afternoon (our brunch having been a rather late one), on Cardiff beach which was very peaceful, and had a great refreshing swim in the sea. Certainly the best Sunday I have had in a long while.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Kitima Thai

We decided to head out to Hillcrest and try a new Thai restaurant last night. I have heard great things about Celadon Thai, and so we headed in that direction. We had no reservations, but it was 9.15pm by the time we went out and we didn't think we would have any trouble.
We arrived at Celadon and waited for someone to seat us, unfortunately servers passed us by never acknowledging our presence, giving us not even a smile of welcome. After 10 minutes waiting in the lobby and not been giving even a hello, we decided to leave. It would have been one thing to be informed there was a 20 minute wait, but to be ignored so completely was, in my opinion, just rude.
So we wandered down University Avenue a bit further and eventually came across Kitima Thai. My wife at once fell in love with the eclectic decor, so different from the regal Thai restaurants we are used to, so we decided to give it a try. The menu was certainly interesting with a wealth of both vegetarian and meat entrees. An added bonus also came from the jazz trio playing upstairs in the restaurant, which made for a great chilled out atmosphere.
The menu being so extensive, it took us some time to settle on our choices. Gone were the usual options of Drunken noodles and Swimming Rama, Instead I went for a lemongrass chicken and my wife took the Tofu Fitness dish. Both dishes were absolutely wonderful, I haven't had such a great lemongrass flavor in a while and I had forgotten quite how much I love it. I tried some of the veggie dish and was impressed by the wealth of different flavors and textures.

We really enjoyed our late night at Kitima, a refreshing change from Amarin and Lotus Thai, definitely somewhere I would love to take guests.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Birthday Meal

Where shall I take my wife for her birthday?

On the shortlist are:

Parallel 33
Kemo Sabe

Recommendations? Thoughts? Preferences?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Making up for lost time, here is my second post of the day:

For dinner we are having Red Bean Moussaka, a favorite of my wife's. No she doesn't come from Greece, but from England and this is one of the things her mother would cook on special occasions. She says the smell of cinnamon always brings it back to her.

The recipe comes from Entertaining with Cranks- which still remains in my opinion one of the best vegetarian recipe books. Everything is so simple to make and yet so wholesome and delicious- with a usual touch of elegance.

The key tips to this recipe are: Salting the eggplant and removing all their moisture before placing them in the moussaka. Adding an egg to the bechemel- makes for a great texture when cooked and of course the cinnamon in the mixture, a very unforgettable flavor.

The Air Conditioned Lounge

Sorry for lack of posting recently. I have been feeling quite ill the last few days- hopefully not as a result of food I have eaten somewhere.

Anyway a few notes about the Air Conditioned Lounge in North Park- first off wierd name, don't really like it but hey....
We headed over to the lounge on Saturday night, we usually don't do the whole bar thing, but we were meeting a friend and thought we would give it a shot. I'm not really a fan of being cooped up in a place with low lighting and no windows-some of the decor was cool, but mostly the atmosphere was not great. We went early and I am sure later on in the evening it is really packed (even less fun for myself).
Anyway the one thing this place did have was really good cocktail waiters, no flairing but very nice unpretentious complete knowledge. We ordered everything from a woo woo to a vodka gimlet and it was prepared flawlessly.

Happy hour at the Air conditioned lounge runs until 9.30pm on a Saturday so if you are looking for a place for some cheap drinks to start out a night out give it a shot.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Taste of Italy

We have previously passed through Taste of Italy in Hillcrest for just an appertizer or a drink. Finding it to be very late and having not yet eaten we headed in there. The pizzas have always looked amazing, they come out, gigantic and are placed raised in the center of the table for all to share. We were happy to find that unlike Pizza Nova we could actually split a pizza and went for half vegetarian and half 'the works' or some such variety.
Waiting for our food we ordered a couple of martinis, I got the lemon drop and my wife the melon ball. Of the two the melon ball was far superior. This was a new martini menu and the first time they had made the drink. Subsequently it came out in a rather large tumbler (perhaps they had not quite anticipated the volume). Nonetheless it was really excellent, tasting just like a honeydew melon.
It was a little wait before our pizza arrived, but that wait was well worth it. I think I would not go too far in saying this was the best pizza I have had in San Diego. True the ingredients were not as fresh or as interesting as Pizza Nova, but the pizza base itself was unsurpassable. Soft with a little crispness, topped to perfection with ideally sized vegetables and meat, a delicious tomato sauce and great cheese. Really really good.
Of course the pizza was massive, far too big. We only managed two slices, but our extremely friendly waiter boxed it up for us and we enjoyed it the next day for lunch.
I have heard pizza nova does excellent pasta dishes, this may very well be so, but I would encourage everyone to try this pizza that I would go back for time and again.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hillcrest Wine bars

Well after hearing some less than encouraging thins we decided against Spread on Friday night. I have since heard some good reviews however, with the consensus that you should go there 'at least once' and so we have put it at the top of our list.

Friday night we instead headed out to wander Hillcrest. We had a coupon for Bamboo Lounge that promised $15 off a bottle of wine. This seemed a little too good to be true, paticuarly when we entered the bar and found the menu to range from $16-$40 a bottle.

The bar is attractively decorated with its bamboo theme. It was unhappy deserted however, not adding much to the atmosphere. Still rather than brace the oppressive crowds at Wine Steal we decided to stay and use our coupon. Checking to see if it was valid we were informed that there had been a misprint-print. The server told us that in fact the coupon should have read $1.50 off. Hmmmmm I doubt that, $1.50 would have been a joke. I imagine it was intentioned to read $5 and they were trying to ease our disappointment. In true appeasing style they offered us $5 off the bottle, a free cheese plate and a seat in the VIP lounge (a couple of leather couches in the corner LOL!).

Still, the server was very courteous and our wine was not bad. The cheese plate being n more than a few slices of cheddar and some crackers we also ordered the bruschetta. This came in two parts, regular bruschetta and some flat bread with an artichoke spread. The spread was fantastic definitely the highlight.

I can understand why people prefer wine steals- better wine, better cheese, knowledgeable staff and a buzzing atmosphere. However the availability of a place to sit down ad reasonable prices made bamboo quite attractive and we had a great time.

Leaving Bamboo Lounge we headed on to Wine Encounter. This is a place we had previously overlooked due to its strip mall setting. Inside however the bar was attractive enough and the wine selection really excellent. The bartender was far more knowledgeable than the staff at Bamboo and helped us pick out some great choices. The pricing here is a little expensive and none of the appertizer food sounded appealing enough for us to try.

Both bars were fun, and we had a great night. It will be interesting to see in Bamboo as the 5th or so wine bar in Hillcrest will be able to make a name for itself.

Friday, September 01, 2006


We are thinking of going to Spread in Northpark tonight, but hear such mixed reviews I'm not sure.

Anyone reading the blog today please let me know your thoughts!

From what I hear- presentation is amazing, produce is wonderfully fresh, food creative and good.

But- over priced, rushy stressy staff, uncomfortable seating.

Is this a good summary?