San Diego Restaurant Week starts Sunday and it is a great time to try out some new (to you) restaurants or even visit some old favorites. It’s few and far between that my husband, Thom, and I go out on dates — especially now that our business is keeping us busy plus having baby #3. When we do go out, we aren’t very creative and tend to go where it’s a good value or some place we’ve been before. Restaurant week gives couples like us a chance to check out a new place for a great deal. So I jumped on the chance to preview Prepkitchen in La Jolla, one of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week.
While most restaurants set a prix-fixe menu for Restaurant Week, Prepkitchen is is letting you order off of their regular menu, allowing you to choose an appetizer, entree and dessert. I thought this was a great way to really experience what their restaurant has to offer. This post will be a bit different, since my husband volunteered to do a review — and I will interject as necessary (since I tend to remember more of the food details).
The following by Thom Hiatt (and Melissa)
To be perfectly honest with you, I am entirely happy eating a $1.50 hot dog and $1.45 frozen yogurt at Costco for dinner. If it weren’t so caloric, I’d eat there a few times each week. My family does not frequent sit-down restaurants; I don’t enjoy going to them for one main reason: the food is not usually any better than what my talented wife can cook at home in 30 minutes. So I figure, “Why pay the money?”
This is NOT to say I don’t EVER pay up for a good meal. But when I open the wallet, it had better be good, and it had better be a great experience with good ambiance.
Being cheap, there’s nothing better than a free meal. So being invited to visit Prepkitchen for a free dinner was music to my ears, and a wonderful start to a Thursday night.
We were pleasantly greeted by a hipster gentleman who pointed us to our tiny table in the corner of a very small outdoor raised deck, which might accommodate a very packed 15 people or so. While we dined, there may have been 10 guests in our area, and it was possible to eaves drop on a variety of colorful conversations. Being somewhat of a nosy person, I overheard that the couple next to us were frequent guests. The senior couple sitting seven feet away were staying at a local hotel that recommended Prepkitchen. I listened to a business-networking-group-
So we sat down and “Jen” very quickly introduced herself as our server. Between the host and Jen, I felt WAY over-dressed in my open-collar button shirt and dress pants. If I wore some worn-out jeans and a $75 flannel from Macy’s and had a goatee I would have fit in a little better. Three or four overhead heaters warmed the air around us, but not enough to fight off the slightly chilly ocean air. The ocean, by the way, is not in view or earshot, but it’s not far by car. Even though the space felt a bit cramped, part of me wished the deck had those retractable plastic sheeting “walls” to keep in some of the warm air.
All guests are immediately served house-bottled water that comes from a large metal tank at the host station. It’s very good, very refreshing water that’s cold but not too cold. It was infused with cucumber and lemon. I could only taste the heavy hint of cucumber, but Jen also told me about the lemon.
The Diet Coke I ordered came quick. Unfortunately it was flat. I told Jen and she very quickly replaced it with a much more bubbly version of the chemically-rich deliciousness that my wife would rather I not ingest. I appreciated the good service.
While sipping my delicious beverages, I couldn’t stop thinking bad thoughts about the menus: basically double-sided black-toner laser-printed sheets on sort-of-fancy paper from Staples. I guess I expected to hold something nicer in my hand — considering the FREAKING HIGH PRICES I saw next to the menu items. Granted, anything is pricey compared to my beloved hot dog combo. That, and I am extremely cheap. But DAMN… $12 for bacon wrapped dates. $25 and $30 entrees. $10 beers. $13 glasses of wine. All of this while I was blinded by the VONS grocery store sign that was like. right. across. the. street. For prices like that, I really don’t want to sit next to the grocery, in a somewhat cramped patio space.
Jen brought out the locally-baked bread and butter, and she asked for our order. We were allowed one app each, one entree each, and we would be given one dessert each after dinner. Sweet.
We ordered the cutting board full of meats and cheeses for $19… and we ordered the bacon-wrapped dates. Two apps for $31. Holy moly. Really? While we waited, I should have paid more attention to my wife, but I was too interested in hearing the senior couple tell Jen how they were both widowed and introduced to each other through friends. “If you had two weeks to hear it, we’d tell you the whole story,” they joked. To which Jen replied, “Oh, I would LOOOVE to hear it. I just love good love stories.” She was building good rapport with her new friends from out of town. The couple next to us that visits all the time, apparently ordered an entree that they would eventually split.
Another nice gal (not Jen) brought out the apps, and I really enjoyed how she took us on a tour through all the food items on the cutting board. Most of which I had never heard of. And I really didn’t care. But it sounded fancy so it was fun. It was all delicious and my wife to see what each location offers.
Disclosure: We were given complimentary meals for our review. All of the opinions stated here are my husband’s… and mine. Yes, he likes to speak his mind and isn’t afraid to do it!