I was recently in San Diego, CA for IDWeek2012 with 4 other ladies from my hospital. In addition to the conference itself, we looked forward to warm weather, great restaurants, and awesome shopping…oh and yeah, time away from work. Months prior, we had given ourselves an assignment of each choosing a restaurant for dinner. I must say overall, we did pretty well with our dinners at Peohe, Cafe Sevilla, Celadon, and El Vitral – sushi/seafood, tapas, Thai, and Mexican respectively. We even managed decent lunches at Burger Lounge, Mezè, and Herringbone chosen just by walking up and down the streets and making a unanimous decision.
We limited ourselves to the Gaslamp Quarter for the most part out of convenience knowing that we may be in a “tourist trap” however felt that we had done quite well with our choices….that is until the very last night.
That last night, there were only 3 ladies left standing. Though we were exhausted from the east to west coast travels and the early morning and all day conference sessions, AND though we were stuffed from the very rich meals of the days prior we were determined to have one last good meal in the city. One or the other vetoed suggestions to travel to Old Town, or to dine at Bice or Nobu for one reason or the other. Honestly, I think we had dined ourselves out, but still we couldn’t go to bed hungry.
That brought us to The Melting Pot across the street and Osetra the Fishhouse on our side. Without much ado, we ploped ourselves down under the radiator of the outside seating area of Osetra. Thus began a chain of events, known to some as red flags, that we didn’t appreciate until the next day.
Being asked for a handout just as we took our seats by a seemingly homeless man aside, we first requested an exchange of a dirty plate. The waiter did not know if they had any specials or what they were. None of us ordered what was recommended to us as their best meals because each sounded like huge entrees, but then again, we were told that none of us had picked customer dislikes. I got a lobster salad as my entree imagining chunks of lobster on a bed of greens. Well, it came as a stacked cylinder of minced “lobster” on greens prompting my dinner mates to exclaim that the salad looked like it came out of a can. For all I know, this truly could have been imitation lobster. Another ordered a crab cake appetizer and a salad. The third ordered a seaweed salad and a lobster ravioli.
Unlike the rest of the week we ate our meals without really sharing. My “lobster” “salad” was ok, the crab cake was equally lackluster, and the lobster ravioli had “the same stuff inside” that was on my salad. We did however enjoy each others company. When time for desert came only two of us were interested. The exchange with the waiter was hilarious. First we asked for the fresh strawberries but were told that they just run out. So we inquired about their mixed berry fruit tart. “What’s it like, like what fruit?” “Cake” was the reply from our trusty waiter. “Cake?” So what is the fruit tart part?” we pressed. “Mixed berries” came the response. “So like mixed berries tart and a cake – like how is that?” “No mixed berries mixed into the cake”. With that, we settled on a layered hazelnut chocolate mousse for dessert while we giggled over the Christmas fruitcake our waiter had described to us as “tart”. The joke must have been on us, because the mousse came as a solid square structure on a plate. But see, we were still blind because we were the ones caught by surprise by this non-hazelnut tasting fudge-texture hazelnut-chocolate mousse.
With that we begun to realize that this dinner experience did not rank anywhere near the previous ones. As we begrudgedly walked back to our hotel we kept pointing out the other restaurants we could have eaten at instead in a lightheartedly “oh well” sort of fashion.
Hmmm, by 3 am the following morning, just a couple hour before we were to catch our plane back the lobster ravioli/seafood salad eating patron (also the creator of this brilliant restaurant picking scheme thank goodness), came down with nasty upper and lower GI upset symptoms. She looked awful for a few hours but luckily there were no major accidents.
It was at that point we decided to check the UrbanSpoon rating of Osetra. We were shocked to see it at 65%, shocked because we had started the night vehemently stating that we wouldn’t eat at anything lower than 80-85% in online reviews and none of us each with a smartphone readily available thought to check out the restaurant’s reviews before we sat down to dine.
What a way to end!