Tag Archives: gaslamp

SDRW 2016 – Florent


Hey – it’s San Diego Restaurant Week again! SDRW 2016 starts Sunday, September 25 and goes through October 2, 2016, so you get one and a half weekends to travel anywhere in the county to eat a fancy meal for a great deal.

I was invited to preview a meal at Florent, which is a spot downtown in the Gaslamp that I had honestly never ever heard about. But, it looked like a pretty cool spot with an interesting menu, and it was a couple of nights before I was scheduled to get my tonsils out, so I figured a tasty meal out on the town was in order. And, I’m really really glad we went (and really really sad I didn’t get to enjoy the leftovers we brought home).

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Taste of Downtown (San Diego) 2015

It has been a couple of years since we’ve participated in a “Taste of” walking/eating/tasting event. But apparently my renewed, intermittent, and occasional blogging has put me back on the PR radar and I was invited to participate in this year’s Taste of Downtown. This year, I tagged my Instagram posts with #tasteofdtsd but I also saw others using #tasteofdowntown (but you’ll also see posts from totally different cities since I guess there are downtown areas outside of San Diego?!?)
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2013 Taste of Downtown Giveaway


I have come out of blogging hibernation for YOU! So I could offer you a giveaway! I think that’s quite nice of me…

The Annual Taste of Downtown is coming up next week (Thursday, September 26, 2013) and it’s an event we’ve participated in a couple of times. There’s a lot of walking, a lot of tasting, and I think it’s a fun way to discover new restaurants or dishes. We’re always pleasantly surprised at least once when we stop at a restaurant we would normally pass up, only to find they have one of the tastiest samples of the night.

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Donovan’s Prime Seafood

Disclosure: Our meal was complimentary, but I was not compensated for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Do you remember the first time you went to a “grown up” restaurant? One that had white tablecloths and more than one fork on the table, extraneous glasses, and possibly servers who would pull out your chair at the table? The first one I can remember was actually in New Zealand: I was tagging along with my mom on one of her international trips (she used to work for United Airlines) and we were dining in the hotel restaurant. I know we ordered lamb and that everything was served on beautiful white porcelain plates. And that they were out of the chocolate mousse my mom loved so much, but then we found a dish in front of our hotel room door containing that very (and very delicious) mousse!

Even now, when I mostly call myself a grown up, I’m still excited/nervous when visiting a “fine dining” establishment. I know what all the forks and spoons are for and which water glass is mine, but when everything looks so perfect and the servers are so formal, it makes me wonder if I really belong in such a place.

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Osetra the Fishhouse

Disclosure: Our meal was complimentary but I was not compensated for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

We don’t spend a lot of time downtown, but I appreciate knowing some good spots in the Gaslamp for when we are in the area and happen to be hungry.  Or, if we’re looking for a special place to go for a good meal.  I had never been to Osetra the Fishhouse, so when the ladies at BAM Communications invited me to check out their special Valentine’s Day oyster shooters, I asked if we could also arrange a little sample of the dinner menu.  Happily, they obliged and I made plans for a fun dinner in the Gaslamp.

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Suite & Tender goes to the bloggers

As I mentioned earlier, we were generously treated to dinner and drinks at Suite & Tender.  I’m not sure how I got on the list, but I’m glad we were invited!  Suite & Tender opened at the beginning of the year and is billed as the trendy hot spot downtown for fancy cocktails and luxurious food.  You can find their menu online, and I suggest you take a look to follow along.

Food bloggers and other writers were invited, and I half-joked to Travis that I was going to Google the event to figure out who was there.  Well, now I know Darlene, Jenny, and Mary were there, so we’ll see if anyone else writes it up.  We’re all probably wondering what the other will say about the night.  I’ll admit that we were completely taken care of, from the first bite to the wine pairing to the valet parking, by the restaurant, with the exception of the two cocktails we had at the bar because we got there an hour early.

When you get to Suite & Tender, you walk through an enormous door that must be perfectly balanced to swing open with such a slight push.


big door

We all gathered downstairs in the bar area while bites from the bar menu were passed around: Wagyu beef sliders, mini corn dogs, and Kobe beef carpaccio.  I didn’t actually get to try the beef sliders, but they looked plump and tasty!  The mini corn dogs had a tasty corn battered shell and it tasted more like a sausage than a hot dog.  It was flavorful and I can see it being a nice dish during happy house, but mine was a little tough to bite through the sausage skin.  And I think I had sausage grease drip down my chin.  But tasty!  I don’t know if the bar-menu carpaccio is served as we had it – a slice of tender beef on a slice of toasted baguette with pickled scallions – but that’s what we enjoyed.  My “crouton” wasn’t very crisp, but it’s still a nice two-bite appetizer.  When we visited for Restaurant Week, the carpaccio was served on a plate with the croutons along the side, and it was a generous portion.

Once we all headed upstairs to the restaurant, then the fun began.  Beverage orders were taken and then wine glasses were brought out to pair with the courses. The amuse bouche was presented (I love amuse bouches!), a black mission fig with Roquefort cheese.  I didn’t think the fig was sweet enough to stand up the sharpness of the blue cheese.


I do love figs, though

We started with a “quad plate” of some appetizers: hamachi fish tacos, maple glazed bacon, lump crab cakes, and fried rock shrimp.  There was a choice of wines, and Travis and I shared the William Fevre Chablis (because I’d already had a very boozy Manhattan, I’m a lightweight, and we had an entire night to get through), which was a crisp white, slightly dry, and drinkable until we got to the second wine (which probably means it was in the correct order).


top left, clockwise: fried rock shrimp, hamachi fish tacos, maple glazed bacon, lump crab cakes

My favorite was the fried rock shrimp.  It felt more dusted than battered; a very light coating.  There were candied walnuts and a slightly sweet dressing.  The shrimp was cooked perfectly – still tender and moist and not at all rubbery.  The fish tacos were cold; maybe they were supposed to be?  We were told the bacon is soaked in maple syrup for 24 hours before being cooked.  It’s thick cut bacon and not cooked to a crisp, so you get to enjoy that meaty chewiness.  In all honesty, it’s bacon.  In maple syrup.  Bacon.  How can it not be enjoyable?  The lump crab cakes were also good.  Nice big lumps of crab, a crisp outer coating, and just a hint of spice in the saucee (which I guess is a remoulade).  If we were going to order appetizers, I’d be happy with the rock shrimp or the crab cakes (Travis would choose the crab cakes, hands down).

Two plates of salad were set out for each table.  We shared the duck confit and baby spinach salads, which were paired with an Evolution Sauvignon Blanc (a slightly sweet, fruity wine that was very drinkable, but also made the Chablis taste drier than I think it actually is).  I was looking forward to the duck confit salad because I love anything with duck, but the baby spinach ended up being the winner, mostly because of the pine nut butter spread on the bottom of the plate.  The duck salad had crunchy candied walnuts, but the vinaigrette seemed missing (read: cabbage tasted like non-dressed cabbage) and the duck was too moist and mushy for my tastes (sorry!)


baby spinach, bacon, pine nut butter, sliced crab apple, caramel vinaigrette


crunchy-yet-bland napa cabbage, duck, candied walnuts, and (supposedly) walnut vinaigrette

Although we were invited to experience the new fall menu, the “Suite & Tender” items (surf & turf) were also presented as choices.  Travis chose the Alaskan King Crab and Veal Tenderloin, while I went for the lamb chop.  In hindsight, I should have chosen a fish dish, since I know how to cook a good lamb chop and Suite & Tender seems to excel at their seafood dishes.  Before the entree comes out, you’re presented with a tray of handcrafted knives from around the world


ooh... fancy knives!


generous portion of two-bone chops


king crab leg and a huge piece of veal

My lamb chops came with a goat cheese/sweet potato puree that was delicious.  A slice of lamb, swish of puree, and dab of the tomato jus made for a perfect bite.  The lamb was cooked to medium and it was quite tender.  Also, thick.  There was plenty of lamb on that plate, at least to me it was.  Travis’ veal was also cooked perfectly and is probably my favorite meat option over the short ribs or pork belly that we tried on our previous visit.  But, you really can’t beat a piece of crab that tastes like it’s been doused in butter.  It reminds me of the buttery lobster we had eaten before.

By this time, I was getting full, yet I was still excited about all this food being presented to us.  So, I know we had a red wine with this course, but I have no idea what it was.  Sorry.  I can tell you that it was a big wine, very boozy, with a dry finish.  Probably doesn’t help you much, though.

The dessert cordials/port list was brought out, as well as a coffee and tea service cart.  If I was a better drinker, I would have loved to partake in a cordial, but alas, I chose decaf coffee.  The last time I had regular coffee after 4pm I was wide awake well after midnight.

Similar to the appetizer plate, four desserts came out on a quad plate: the Suite & Tender cheesecake, a 5th Avenue torte, ice cream sandwiches, and a chocolate truffle cake.


clockwise from top left: chocolate truffle cake, 5th Ave torte, cheesecake, ice cream sandwiches.

The truffle cake was served with a peanut butter ice cream (yum) and it wasn’t as dense as you would expect a truffle cake to be.  It was moist and chocolatey and easily finished.  The 5th Avenue torte was served with a shot of Frangelico and milk.  Why they brought one shot out when four people are sharing a plate is a bit confusing.  When the rest of the desserts were gone and the shot was left standing, I just went ahead and poured some into my spoon.  It tasted like… milk with a splash of Frangelico!  The almond-y ice cream that went with the torte was nice and refreshing.  The torte itself wasn’t as peanut-buttery as I thought it would be from the description.  If I hadn’t been expecting peanut butter, I’d say it was still a good slice of cake.  The cheesecake was not nearly as dense as the one we had last time.  It was light and airy, like it was whipped?  Even though I prefer the thick, rich cheesecakes, this one was much easier to eat and finish, which is saying something considering how much we’d already tasted by now.  The ice cream sandwiches were filled with a rocky road ice cream – nice, chewy hunks of marshmallow in chocolate ice cream.  And they were sandwiched with thin brownie slices.  I think the truffle cake was my favorite, aside from the almond ice cream on the plate.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were all presented with a lovely gift bag to take home.  It had some menu brochures, a press release on the upcoming Stone beer pairing menu (for November), a CD with menu files and photos, a mini cocktail shaker, and some house-made candies (ginger and cinnamon, I believe).  I took some of the candies to work… they taste really good, but after a while they get kind of sticky in your mouth.  No chewing, you just have to let them melt away.



In addition to the generous hosting of the restaurant and Kelsey (with Wagstaff), Travis and I also enjoyed the people watching.  There was a smooth jazz player in the bar and some ladies who were definitely out for a night on the town.  Or maybe just a night ogling the saxaphone player.  We also watched the valet guys try to jimmy open a car whose keys I assume were locked in.  They were at it for well over an hour, but the car was gone by the time we left, so maybe someone finally got it open.

I’ll be the first to admit that Suite & Tender is not really the budget-friendly dining destination, but I think it’s doing well at what it set out to be.  You’ll find all sorts of people in the bar and lounge and I bet it’s quite fun on weekends.  And, while the food may carry a higher price tag, it’s really good food (except for the duck salad… could someone work on that?)  I hear they have great happy hour bar specials, so the carpaccio and rock shrimp would be good choices.  I’d even give the mini corn dogs another chance (of course, I do love corn dogs in general).  The service is excellent and everyone’s really friendly.

Travis and I had such a fun time.  I also really enjoyed getting to meet Darlene and Jenny in person, people who have left comments here (sometimes I even reply!) and whose blogs I’ve been reading for a while (but I’m terrible at leaving comments).  You may not know it, but I bought my seat belt purse because I saw it on Darlene’s blog and just loved it!  I also got to meet Mary and now I’m getting caught up on all the tasty things she’s found in San Diego.  It’s still a little weird to me, having this blog as a part of my identity, but I’m learning how to have fun with it.

So, thank you Suite & Tender for all that lovely food and drink, and thank you Kelsey for inviting us and letting us participate!

Suite & Tender on Urbanspoon

Foodie Community Dinner

Thanks to a generous night by Wagstaff Worldwide and Suite & Tender, we enjoyed a lovely dinner with other local food bloggers. I also got to meet Darlene and Jenny, whose blogs I follow (and vice versa), and Mary! Plenty of pictures were taken and a full commentary will follow, but not tonight. I’m too full of food, dessert, and wine. I have just enough energy to lock up the chickens and crawl into bed. Tomorrow, after all, is still a work day.