Restaurant Review: Humphrey’s on Shelter Island

by on November 13, 2017 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

2241 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

As a general rule, I stay away from doing reviews of known entities because they are generally priced out of my budget, and they are usually well-established businesses. I had no intent of doing a review of this restaurant when I knew I was going to go to celebrate my “besties” 65th birthday, but the experience was so good I knew within several minutes of being seated that it would become a review.

Mary called me and said that she wanted to celebrate her birthday at Humphrey’s.  She had looked at a variety of establishment’s menus on- line, and thought that one item, the Halibut Crusted with Macadamia Nuts, brought back memories of an earlier time and wanted to go there for dinner.  She asked me if I would join her.  Since she is my “Bestie” it was hard to turn it down, and I made a reservation though “Open Table” for 7:30pm on a Saturday night – the first time.

We were picked up on time by Jason of Lyft, and he was friendly and helped us begin the celebration by laughing at the things we were saying. And then he dropped us off at Humphrey’s.  Oh, Humphrey’s hotel.  Not the restaurant – which is probably a football field away from the front door of the hotel.  No problem, though.  We managed to work up a bigger appetite than we had when we started out the front door of our homes.

Jumbo Crab cake. All photos – save the top one – by Judi Curry.

When I made my reservation, I had requested a waterfront table. (We got it but if we did not sit side-by-side, one of us would have been looking at a blank wall, because the table was the last one along the  water side.)

We had decided that we would start out with a drink to begin the birthday celebration.  Mary originally wanted a martini, and I was going to order “Absolute on the Rocks” with an olive, onion and twist.  But then we looked at the menu and decided that a “Mai Tai” sounded good and we changed  our minds from our original ideas and each ordered one from Mona, our server for the night.

I have to say something here about Mona.  From the very beginning of our service we knew we had a winner!  She was personable; knowledgeable; funny; interesting, and put up with all of our changes with jokes of her own.  It turns out that she was probably in my daughter’s graduating class at Pt. Loma High School back in the 70’s; her husband works for the San Diego Unified School District, etc.

Lobster Bisque

As you are aware if you have read this far, not the average server’s conversations.  And perhaps one of the best lines of the night was when Mary told her that this was her 65th birthday.  Mona stepped back, looked at Mary and said, “Are you serious? You don’t look that old.  Have you had plastic surgery?”  (She hasn’t!)

While we were waiting for our drinks, we earnestly perused the menu. And what a menu it was:  There are 9 appetizers from $9-13; Two soups – Corn Chowder $9 and Lobster Bisque at $10.  There are seven salads listed, ranging from $8-11; Six seafood entrees, that start at $27 and go up to $36.  (I was surprised that there was not a lobster tail offered separately.)  From the Land there are 8 entrees listed, ranging from $17 for a cheeseburger and topping out at $43 for a Filet Mignon.  (For $27 additional, one can have Steak and Maine Lobster.)

The menu is rounded off with 4 “additions” , such as Mac and Cheese, Veggie Risotto, Crispy Brussels Sprouts and a Mushroom Saute.  They start at $9 and end at $12.  All of those prices are for one person; there are separate prices for two or more people.  The final item on the menu was “bread service” and Mona suggested that we not order it.  She said with what we were ordering it it was not needed – and Mary is gluten free and could not have had any anyway.

We asked Mona what she would recommend on the appetizer list.  She suggested the Jumbo Crab Cakes ($17), and I told her that I was from Maine and had not had a good Crab Cake since I left there.  She said that the Chef uses real crab and it was very good.  We decided to share one.

We both ordered the Lobster Bisque ($10) that came with Chantilly crème and a lobster fritter.  (More about that in just a moment.)

Macadamia Crusted Halibut

Mary always has a salad with her meals because she says it helps her digest her food.  She selected the “Local Farm Salad” ($11) that included baby veggies, and had a lemon thyme vinaigrette dressing.

True to her wishes, Mary ordered the Macadamia Crusted Halibut ($36) for her entrée.  It came with basmati rice, but since she can’t eat rice she asked Mona if something else could be substituted.  There did not seem to be a problem and little potatoes were served instead of the rice. It had orange segments in the sauce which was made with a mirin-ginger base.

I ordered the Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallops ($33) that had a sweet corn risotto, pea emulsion, bacon lardon with a citrus reduction. Mona told us that the two things were ordered were her two favorite items on the menu.

We also looked over the extensive wine list, and Mary decided that she wanted to have a glass of Acacia Chardonnay.  Mona told us it came in half bottles – or full bottles – so I changed what I was going to have and said I’d split a half bottle with her.  When Mona came back with the bottle she poured a little bit in Mary’s glass and watched as Mary tasted it.  “How is it?” she asked.  Mary said, “it’s okay.”  Mona took my glass, poured a little in to it, DRANK it – much to our dismay – and said, “It’s spoiled.”  I think Mary and I were so shocked we couldn’t say anything.

Finally I asked her what made her say that and she held it up and said, “the color is wrong!”  She took the glasses away and went to get another bottle of wine.  We went through the same routine when she returned, but this time when she poured it into Mary’s glass, Mary asked her to taste it, because the color was whiter, but at that point wasn’t sure what it should taste like.  And, again, Mona took a sip and pronounced it “spoiled” also and whisked it away.  But this server was very intelligent – she brought with her Mary’s second choice of wine, a Sonoma Cutrer, and this was fine.

Pan Seared Hokkaido Scallops

It was finally time to have our appetizer and Mona was right about the crab cake.  It was huge – she said one of the largest she has ever served and has been there over 13 years – and very, very tasty.  It did not have a “fishy” taste and the accompanying slaw only added to the enjoyment.  Mary used the charred lemon on the crab cake; I liked it just the way it was served.  We would both order it again.

Mary also asked Mona if she would serve her salad at the same time we were getting our soup.  She didn’t want me to have to wait for my food while she was eating her salad and Mona said it would not be a problem.

Then Mona appeared with our “soup.”  Except what she put down in front of us was an empty bowl with a dab of Chantilly and a teeny fritter in the bowl.  She said, “here is your soup.”  Mary and I looked at each other and began to giggle. (See the picture)  Was this “the emperor’s new clothes” syndrome?  No.  Mona then came back with two small pitchers of Lobster Bisque that she poured slowly into the bowl.  And it was yummy.  The cream did not dissipate like sour cream does, and it was possible to get a little bit with each spoonful of the soup.  Unfortunately Mary did not realize that the Chantilly was something she shouldn’t have, but she managed to eat a lot of the bisque without compromising herself too much.  Her salad was all fresh and crispy and she was not upset that she could not finish the soup.


The Macadamia crusted Halibut was beautifully presented.  The potatoes instead of the rice added to the presentation, and everything was very, very tasty.  The fish was also not “fishy”, very firm and not mushy, and cooked to perfection.  And, there was so much of it Mary was able to take some of it home.

Now I must share with you my feelings about my scallops, because, to say that I was nonplussed when Mona put them down in front of me is mild.  The thought went through my mind, “ . . . is this all I am getting for $33?”  Because the plate that the scallops were served on was like the same plate as the Lobster Bisque.  And in the small crevice when the soup was put, were THREE scallops.  Yes! Three scallops.  (See picture.)

But let me tell you – they were three of the biggest, most tasty scallops I have ever had.  And underneath the scallops was a delicious risotto, with just a hint of peas, and bits of fresh bacon that was diced up and crunchy as I ate it.  I could barely finish the scallops because everything was so filling and good.

And finally, since it was Mary’s birthday, Mona brought out a chocolate cake to celebrate the day.  And what a piece of chocolate it was. Oh my!  It was absolutely delicious with chunks of chocolate in the cake and icing.  It came with chocolate sticks that were succulent in themselves.  And, poor Mary, couldn’t eat it because she can’t eat cake, and the rest of it is in my refrigerator (for a very short period of time!)

So what was the cost of the meal?  $170 without the tip.  Pricey for my budget, but for a special occasion I would definitely go again. For others it is not pricey at all.  But we had an alcoholic drink, wine, appetizer, salad, and entrée and we could not fault anything – except maybe the wine and that was taken care of quickly.

And … to cap the night off, we went next door and listened to some music; danced some; and had another drink before exiting with Lyft. Don’t wait until you are 65 to try this place. Bring your credit card, appetite, and enjoy.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Mercy November 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Judi, may I suggest buying a wonderful little gadget called the Ring Light on Amazon for only $12.99? It just clips onto your phone and provides all the light you need for taking food photos that are truly Instagram and review worthy.

Shame to have such thorough reviews as yours only to see such dark photos. And of course the flash never looks good.


MD November 14, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Love the review Judi – Thanks for sharing it – sounds like a very enjoyable birthday evening!


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