San Diego: An Evening Downtown
After a day at the San Diego Zoo, on Saturday night, Brittanny and I headed downtown for the evening. We went to the Beach Bar at The W Hotel, decorated with heated sand, huge TV screens, and private cabanas you can rent. Apparently it’s quite the hot spot and Adrian Grenier, the actor who plays Vincent Chase on Entourage was even going to be there later that night. After a drink and some delicious edamame, we moved on to the Gaslamp Quarter, a historic district with lots of restaurants and bars. Our dinner reservations were at Osetra Water Grill (formerly the Fish House) and the ambiance inside the restaurant was very cool. Osetra has really high ceilings surrounding the bar and they store all of their wine in a “three-story wine tower” that extends up to the ceiling. The bartenders get harnessed in and are basically suspended in air when they need to retrieve a bottle of wine. (I feel like there was a photo shoot once on America’s Next Top Model with a similar theme. Am I right?)
Osetra was not very crowded so we got good attention and our waiter served us pretty quickly, maybe too quickly. Our waiter made it clear from the beginning that I would not be able to have any of the sauces because they thicken them with flour. I’m ok with that, but I don’t really understand why some restaurants still feel the need to thicken all of their sauces with flour. There are so many good alternatives to a roux and a floured-sauce. In my culinary opinion, flourless sauces have better flavors and show off a higher level of cooking. Anyways, I’ll step down from my soap box now because I can’t complain too much about the meal, since it was still quite tasty, even without a sauce. For a first course, I ordered the organic greens salad with balsamic vinaigrette. A nice, simple salad but nothing fancy. For my main course, I ordered the pan seared salmon (sans chive buerre blanc) with sautéed spinach and herb-roasted fingerling potatoes. The chef cooked the salmon perfectly and the spinach and potatoes complemented the salmon well.
If you’re looking for a nice seafood restaurant (with items on the menu for meat eaters as well) in the Gaslamp District, I would definitely recommend Osetra. The menu was pretty predictable, but both of our dishes were well made and flavorful. The service was good and they kept me gluten-free.
After dinner we went across the street to the wine bar, Vin de Syrah, for a drink. This bar was so cool for many reasons. I won’t give away all of their secrets but it very much has an Alice in Wonderland theme going on. You enter on the ground level and go down a stair case to enter the actual bar. Once you get downstairs, you enter another room to get into the bar. Let’s just say the entrance is difficult to find, and leads to a little embarrassment once discovered. The décor inside is full of upside down umbrellas large fake flowers and other trippy decorations. As I’m reading what I’ve written, this description makes Vin de Syrah sound cheesy, but I promise, on the inside it does not feel like you’re at Disney Land. This ‘parlor’ as its name describes it, gives off a distinctly unique vibe, while remaining classy.
Vin de Syrah has a plethora of fun drinks and a great wine selection. We each enjoyed a drink, did some great people watching and headed back to Coronado Bay. If you’re staying in Coronado Bay, it’s definitely worth spending at least one night down town in Gaslamp, as it’s an entirely different feel, and the average age drops by about 30 years when you migrate downtown.