Sunday, January 22, 2006

Island Prime

For one lone week in January, San Diego restaurants served up a $30 menu with three courses. It concluded for us with the newish Island Prime on Harbor Island. Reviews have been mixed, but the menu looked great and certainly seemed worth a try. It ended up being exactly my type of restaurant – good food, generous portions, great space (and the city view) it all came together for a fine night out. This time I brought my camera, which will always do a better job than I could in “describing” the plate. (I've placed the photo just below the description.)

We had a 7:30 reservation on Friday night. I thought it might be pretty busy - and it was - but we were seated right away by a friendly hostess who asked if we had been to other restaurants during restaurant week and mentioned that she had a wonderful meal at Arterrra the night before.

  • Tartare of Filet Mignon with Baby Arugula, Violette Mustard & Caperberries. This was tasty.

  • Soufflé of Gruyere & White Truffle with Micro Greens & Sherried Figs. No complaints here.


  • Everything Crusted Ahi Tuna with Lobster Mashed Potatoes, Reduction of Pinot Noir & Sautéed Spoon-Leaf Spinach. I’m not sure what the everything was, but it wasn’t overspiced. Really a large piece. I couldn’t taste lobster flavor in the potatoes, but they were fine.

  • Boursin & Pine Nut Stuffed Chicken Breast on Plugrá Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Spinach & Smoked Wild Mushroom. Delicious and juicy. This was a bone-in chicken breast.
  • Crème Brulee Trio. 3 small dishs, each with a small cookie on top. They really didn’t have the sugary “crust” on top that you might expect. The trio consisted of vanilla, orange and goat cheese.
  • Chocolate Trio. Proclaimed yummy by my wife. We are chocolate lovers and even though she was stuffed she finished the plate off. The trio was a rich chocolate mousse (or was it their dark chocolate crème brulee?) a cone of ice cream and a tasty cake (flourless?)

Good God, that is a lot of sugar! They were also serving up a salad as a starter, and the other possible entrées were Smoked Paprika Crusted Filet Mignon Medallions or Roasted Rack of Colorado Lamb.

We liked the food and I think most people were leaving stuffed. I know we were. The service was fine - nothing outstanding like Mille Fleurs, but friendly. We didn't wait long for anything and our questions were answered. No problems here.

Certainly the desserts go for $8 or $10 and $12 for each starter. Ahi is listed on the menu at $32. While the chicken was delicious, the menu listed it at $18 and the rack of lamb in the mid-30’s so naturally it would have been a nice chance to get the lamb at a discount (and maybe a smaller than normal portion?) So, on a normal night, the food alone would be $90.

We each started off with a cocktail (as expected priced in the $10 to $12 range), the blended Port of Bellini and a Mai Tai - both fairly weak, nothing too impressive, but I'm not really a beverage person. I did get beer with the entree. Does Yellowtail Pale Ale go with tuna? It seems like it would! They were also serving their full menu (the layout made it a little hard to quickly scan over), which didn’t seem all that extensive, various cuts of steak and the normal seafood options. They do offer up your choice of rubs or sauces to compliment whatever meat you choose.

We didn’t quite get a front row seat of the city view, but did have a table along the water near the back of the restaurant. Yet we could see the view from across the room and some skyline (and lots of water) out our window. It’s a nice space and wasn’t overly noisy even though it was practically full.

I normally don’t take snap pictures of my food, as I don’t want to attract attention. So, I’m taking a picture of the first plate, trying one with out the flash, finding out it was too dark – I need to turn on the flash.

Flash! I snapped a picture.

Oh no, the manager (guy in a suit anyhow) must have been at a nearby table and came over and jokingly said, “Oh, we have a copywrite on all food pictures with a $100 fee.”


Could I crawl underneath the table now? Of course, he was just teasing, we had a laugh about it, spoke about the restaurant for a few seconds and was off to check on other customers.

Island Prime

Oh, no doubt there were others to try: A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Nine-Ten, Tapenade, Arterra and The Oceanaire. On the list for next year – if we don’t get there sooner. I certainly don’t want to limit my dining – we’ll just spend the extra $20 or $25 bucks per person to go anytime.

I forgot to mention the bread for any of the restaurants. Here they served 2 rolls – I thought they had an odd flavor. At Mille Fleurs we got 3 different types of bread, 2 slices each. The best bread basket was at Pamplemousse – 3 types, some sliced, and several small muffins.


Blogger GarlicLover28 said...

Those are some great Island Prime photos- hmm $30 menu would be great there.

July 21, 2006 4:51 PM  

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