The Better Half, reviewed

Let me begin by saying that I am extremely hesitant to tell you about our meal at The Better Half.  I’m a little reluctant to publish negative reviews because the owners may find their way here and be sad.  Or upset.  I’ve certainly had some upset responses before (and yet, Heaven Sent Desserts, I still don’t enjoy your treats).  But, I guess it’s only fair to tell people when I don’t like something, lest you think perhaps I do but I just haven’t said anything.  I worry about this because I keep reading that people are having amazing meals here, and this just wasn’t my experience and I feel compelled to speak up and admit that at least one person has not had the (probably local, seasonal, and organic) Kool Aid.

Open communication is the foundation for a good relationship.  However, it doesn’t work when you have the conversation in your head and then leave pouting because you didn’t get your desired response.  At least, that’s been my experience.

Anyway, on a night when our boys were off working/travelling/being not here, Cami and I went out for dinner and decided to finally try The Better Half.  Due to our sluggish economy (hee), they started running a Stressed Economy Blue Plate Special from 5pm to 7pm.  You get a 3-course meal for $15, which is an extremely good deal considering their entrees alone are over $15.  I mean, a $15 meal is a better deal than San Diego Restaurant Week (which is coming up January 11-16).  So, I made reservations and we headed down.  It was pretty empty when we got there (a little after 6pm) but their dining area is very small, so I would suggest reservations if you go, just to be safe.  You never know.

That night, there was a choice of:

  • salad or “clamato” soup
  • wild game meatloaf, a soba pasta dish, or mahi mahi on soba noodles
  • gingerbread, pineapple rice pudding, or strawberry ice cream

I wasn’t too keen on tomato soup and clams, so we both ended up with salads, which were good but not that special.  I mean, it’s a salad.  Cami had meatloaf and I went with the mahi mahi.  The meatloaf was moist and tasty, and the mahi mahi wasn’t dried out.  The sauce the soba noodles were dressed in, though, was a little too sweet.  Like bottled sweet chili sauce.  The mahi mahi itself wasn’t really mouthwatering and I only ate all the noodles because I didn’t want to be hungry.  I had gingerbread cake for dessert, a thin slice to rival those at Chinois and quite a bit of a cream cheese-based frosting.  The cake was fine, if a little dense – I think I prefer my cakes fluffier.  Cami had rice pudding, which probably would have been okay if it hadn’t had a strawberry sauce poured on top.  The sauce kind of overwhelmed every other flavor in the rice pudding, which was also oddly dense and not very fluid-pudding like.  Maybe we should have gone with the ice cream.

So, there you go.  Chowhounders all over are loving and raving about The Better Half, but I would not in good conscience be able to send you there.  I’d point you to Ritual Tavern, Urban Solace, or Starlite instead.  Honestly, I’d point you to The Linkery before recommending The Better Half, even though I think The Linkery’s non-sausage dishes can get a little pricey.  Maybe even Stone Brewing World Bistro & Garden, although I would also tell you not to go hungry and expect awful service so that you’re satisfied with whatever service you do get.  Our meal at The Better Half was just not impressive.  The concept of the menu and what they are trying to do with seasonal foods and changing menu items is awesome and I applaud them for trying, but there are other places I’d rather have a meal.

Now, was our meal subpar because we didn’t order off the regular menu?  I don’t know.  The appetizers on the regular menu looked wonderfully appealing, as did the regular entrees on the menu (which included the items on the $15 menu).  But, mahi mahi on soba noodles also sounded wonderful and it just kind of… wasn’t.  Let me be clear: our food wasn’t bad in any way.  It just wasn’t spectacular.  We didn’t see anything that had us already planning our next trip down.  Your mileage may vary.  In fact, if you have gone for dinner and your meal was spectacular, then I’m happy for you.  But I’m not sure when we’ll be back.  I mean, we still have a full list of restaurants to try for the first time.  Plus the list of places we’d eat at every day if we could afford to do so.

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One response to “The Better Half, reviewed

  1. Oh dear, I’m sad you didnt really enjoy your experience. It really sounds to me like they have been a bit silly with the blue plate special and backed themselves into a corner where they are having to make ordinary food so they can afford to price it so low(although I dont know if you have to make it ordinary just because it is cheap).

    We’ve had more varied experiences recently. We went on my birthday and it was pretty good, but then its round the corner for us.

    I think it would be worth your while if you were in the area to try their regular menu, but dont make a special trip on my account!

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