A Day in the Gaslamp Quarter and San Diego Harbor

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, October 7, 2007

Day 1, Sun, Oct 7, 2007

DH and I drove in separate cars to San Diego and checked into the Machester Grand Hyatt at the harbor. We had to drive separately because I had to get back home the next day, and DH had to stay another night.



DH and I left home at about 10:30 a.m. in separate cars. We had to do this because he would be staying one more night than I would. The drive went smoothly, which meant that we did not get stuck in Southern California's heinous traffic. So we arrived in downtown San Diego with time to spare.

Our lunch reservation at Damon Gordon's Quarter Kitchen in the Gaslamp Quarter was for 12:30. We had time to check in at the Manchester Grand Hyatt on the harbor and still had time to walk to the restaurant.



The weather was much warmer than we had expected, nearly 90 degrees F! So we got quite warm walking to the Ivy Hotel where the restaurant is located. The Gaslamp Quarter was very quiet though, not many people out for such a beautiful, sunny day.



The restaurant was nearly empty with only two other diners in the whole place. It's a very chic place though, decorated in sleek, modern furnishings and colors. We sat at the kitchen counter so we could see the workings of the kitchen. Although, we found out that at lunchtime, that means that not much happens.

Liz, a new chef underling was busy preparing the Mis en Place. Towards the end of our meal, we finally engaged her in conversation and had a wonderful time talking to her about our mutual interest in Disneyland and told her about Napa Rose, the fantastic restaurant at the Grand Californian which also has a kitchen counter. She had not tried it, but was anxious to do so after our description of it.

The food at Quarter Kitchen was so-so, and we felt that that might be why they are struggling. Our server said that they were trying new things for lunch. Prior to this day, they had been doing brunches on the rooftop (apparently that hadn't worked out either). But you can have a beautiful restaurant, friendly staff, and intriguing menu, but if the food doesn't deliver, the restaurant just won't succeed.

I had East & West Coast Oysters with a mignonette sauce as a starter. I was not overly impressed. Mind you, it was the first time I had ever ordered raw oysters. Prior to eating them during my trip to Japan, they totally disgusted me. I mean, they look gross, all slimy with those greenish edges and all. Blech. The ones I had in Japan were just divine, and absolutely ginormous; they were cut up in several pieces and creamy white.

We had to ask our server at Kitchen Quarter which oysters were which, and I don't think she had a very good handle on it. The best I got out of it was that some were from Canada (which DH joked that "well, that's NORTH isn't it?), and some were from the West Coast; none were that tasty. I think I will just stick with Japanese oysters.



For my entree, I had a Lobster Club with truffled fries. It was good, kind of like a BLT with hunks of lobster and avocado. The fries were fantastic, and I even enjoyed the housemade ketchup. Although, I did take off some of the bread on the sandwich; it was just too thick, which made it difficult to eat.

DH started with Kobe Carpaccio. I had a little taste; I thought it was quite good. The only caveat is that there wasn't much to it. At $22, that seemed pricey for the very small amount you got even though it was Kobe beef. His entree was the Kitchen Sink salad that he didn't really like that much.

DH then ordered the Spiced Donuts for dessert. The server then came out to let us know that they were out of them. Sigh. It was ok though; he had only ordered them because they sounded so good. I have to say they had a really great looking dessert menu. One of the chefs sent us some strawberry shortcake on the house as an apology. The strawberries were fantastically sweet. Our capuccinos were very good. Oh, and they give really good pours on the wines-by-the-glass too.



Even though the food was just o.k., we had a really nice time. We spent two hours there, very relaxed, talking, taking our time. The maitre d' took us to the rooftop so we could see what it is like. The hotel seems very much like the restaurant: chic, young, and hip. The rooftop had a lounge area with a firepit, a bar, and the pool. There was a 360 degree viewing area of the city which was very nice. You could see the new stadium and the harbor, and I bet you could see Balboa Park from the pool.



From there, we went to Horton Plaza. I hadn't been there in years. DH and I reminisced about going to lunch at the Napa Valley Grille there every now and then--they always had good food. I also remembered back when I was in college, I worked downtown at a finance company office (although not by Horton Plaza): My coworker and I often bought our lunch at this Mexican food walkup window. My favorite lunch was a quesadilla con crema (quesadilla with sour cream). My friend's mother was from Spain so she spoke fluent Spanish, so we ordered in Spanish. Ah, good memories.

I needed a scarf for my dress for dinner this night, so we were in and out of Nordstrom pretty quickly. I ended up buying two scarves. :) And we were done with Horton Plaza. Out we went, and we headed back to the hotel. We walked past the Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse, and the Kansas City Barbeque which is just across from the hotel. In all my years living in San Diego, I have never gone to the Kansas City Barbeque restaurant. It is sort of a tourist destination though because the piano scene from the movie, Top Gun, was filmed there.



We relaxed in the room for awhile enjoying the peace and quiet. We had a great view of the bay and aircraft carriers and cruise ships along with Seaport Village just below. Before too long, it was time to get ready for dinner. We met two of DH's colleagues in the lobby. They were out from Boston.

The four of us took a short cab ride into the Gaslamp Quarter again to The Palm restaurant. We had a long, leisurely dinner. Although converstation sometimes revolved around business, we often discussed travel, and it was a joy to hear others' views on parts of the world we have been to and other parts we hope to visit. The food was o.k., the wine was better, the conversation fantastic.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to the lobby bar where a couple of other colleagues joined us for drinks. It was a late night (well, for me anyway), but considering it was business related, we really had a nice time. It was good to be back in San Diego.


Day 2, Mon, Oct 8, 2007

After grabbing a quick bite for breakfast, I got on the road home...
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