San Diego’s Restaurant Week unleashes the names of many restaurants that people do not try on a regular basis. Usually the cost is too high for the regular menu and some of these gems go untried by only those that can afford pricey meals. Barbara and I had made plans to go out to lunch as early as 3 weeks ago, but could never find a date that was agreeable to both of us.
Then Wham! Restaurant Week was upon us and one of the restaurants in the Pt. Loma/Ocean Beach area and a place she had been to last year appeared on the list. After checking the menu, she called me and suggested that we go to Old Venice for their $10 lunch special. It sounded like a good idea to me and she made reservations for us at 12:30 pm.
Although they take reservations at lunch, it was not needed. The waiter told us to sit anywhere we liked, but never mentioned there was an outside patio available also. We thought about eating outside, but there was a breeze blowing and we opted to stay inside. Although not crowded, it was very noisy, probably because of several large parties taking advantage of the $10 menu.
Two courses were offered: an appetizer and an entrée. The patron could choose one item from the appetizer menu and one from the entrée menu. The choices were:
PESTO BAKED FETA -Sheep’s milk feta baked with a pesto oil and garnished with sun-dried tomato, served with a garlic Crustini
INSALATA VENICIA, with walnuts, yellow raisins, feta, cucumber, pineapple and roma tomato served on gourmet greens. It was served with a pineapple balsamic vinaigrette.
MAGIC MUSHROOMS, were stuffed with snow crab and shrimp and baked with provolone cheese
ORGANIC ARUGULA –pear, roasted pecans, Dijon balsamic dressing, Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheese.
The offerings for the second course was:
MEATBALL SANDWICH, baked with marinara, mozzarella, garlic, onion, mushroom and tomato green and red pepper
CHICKEN CHIPOTLE with garlic, mushroom, tomato, chipotle cream sauce, rigatoni pasta,
CAJUN SHRIMP -garlic, sun-dried & roma tomato over black linguine in a Cajun spiced cream sauce
LINGUINE DE KATHLEEN – garlic, sun-dried roma tomatoes, onion, feta, pinenuts, pesto oil There was a note that stated that “gluten free penne was available”.
LASAGNA – either meat or spinach – layered lasagna pasta, ricotta and hearty marinara.
Both Barbara and I ordered the “magic mushrooms” that were very tasty. There were 4 of them in a dish, and served with a soup spoon. Both of us wondered how to eat the mushrooms with a spoon, since the melted cheese made them hard to cut, and they were somewhat slippery. We elected to use a knife and fork. The regular lunch menu has this item listed at $9 a serving, and I am not sure if there were 4 mushrooms on that plate or more.
When it came to ordering the second course, we both chose the Linguine, which was different than any I have had before. The regular lunch menu describes it as “Fresh egg and pepper linguine, roma and sun dried tomato, feta and pine-nuts tossed with pesto sauce.” ($10.75) There was no doubt the pasta was “pepper driven” for it was spicy. The feta was served on top which, for me was nice, because I don’t like feta and I could remove most of it – with the spoon I was given for the mushrooms! The pesto was also a little overwhelming, and I would have liked it a little less pungent.
We both elected to have water, and although brought to us immediately, we were never asked if we wanted a refill. My glass was empty for some time; Barbara’s was only half full. We were also served a chunk of garlic bread, that was not scored so that we both had to handle it to break it in half. Oil and vinegar were served in cruets along side the bread.
All in all, the meal was adequate. The $10 lunch gave us the chance to try a restaurant that we would not normally have tried at lunch time because the regular menu is a little steep for us. (We try to keep our lunch expenses down to no more than $10 a meal.)
However, and I have to point this out because, in a way, it really irked me. The “special” was because of “Restaurant Week.” Yet, there was a 20% gratuity automatically added on to the bill regardless of how many diners were at our table. The service was not worthy of a 20% tip and we resented that charge. We were never asked how the meal was; never asked if we wanted anything more – except dessert – and never had our glasses of water filled. Even though the total bill was $26.26, the $4.61 tip was extraordinarily high for the meal.
Would I go back again? Probably not. The noise is a killer; the service only fair. I hear that the music for the dinner patrons is nice, but it is way out of my price range.