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Wine Vault Bistro

★★★1/2 (Very Good to Excellent)

3731-A India Street (south of Washington), Mission Hills, 619-295-3939; winevaultbistro.com

HOURS: Dinner Thursday–Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to about 10:30 p.m.; occasionally open other days for winemaker dinners.

PRICES: Three-course chef dinners most Thursdays, $20; a few à la carte choices (e.g., cheese plate $15). Five-course chef dinners Friday–Saturday, $30, plus $20 for matched wines. Other wines $5 per glass, $10 corkage for in-house bottles, $20 for outside choices.

CUISINE & BEVERAGES: Local-sourced, seasonal delicacies; menus change constantly, with some à la carte dishes; mainly these are chef’s tasting dinners. Vast repertory of wines, including bargain finds, plus artisanal beers and ales.

PICK HITS: Five-course Friday and Saturday chef’s tasting dinners. Second best: Thursday-night three-course chef’s tasting.

NEED TO KNOW: Food easily earns four stars, but discomforts (noise, hard chairs, very slow service) detract from the experience. Reservations essential; most five-course weekend meals are sold out several days ahead. Premises up three short, well-banistered flights above Saffron Thai, with free parking behind Shakespeare Pub, and wheelchair access to back patio (with fireplace). For best wine pours, go in groups of four to six. Visa and MasterCard accepted, but not Discover (check when reserving for other cards).

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Comments

wrldtrvl July 6, 2011 @ 1:55 p.m.

I have to second and third and fourth the reviewer's comments about the noise level. Wine Vault has some very interesting and usually very tasy food at extraordinary prices. The matching wines are almost always excellent as well. However, the noise level is inexcusable for a restaurant where dinner typically takes 2 - 3 hours. In addition, the chairs are ridiculous. Since the rest of the business plan encourages people to spend the evening (ie little or no turnover of tables) why the owner will not invest in padded chairs and some effective soundproofing is beyond me. Perhaps, the place is already busy enough that even such a minor investment is of no interest. So sad. It is a deal breaker for me and for many of my friends.

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jjf July 8, 2011 @ 3:38 p.m.

The food is outstanding ! The wines are unique - many off the beaten path and very inexpensive - and most stand up to some of the best California wines I have tasted. Chris, Mary and all the staff are delightful and friendly - it is like being with family. So the noise and chairs just fill out the family picture nicely :)

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rpyrke Aug. 11, 2011 @ 9:35 p.m.

My first experience this evening was terrific, food , service and wine were great. Wine pairings were excellent. I don't think that I've ever found better value. We sat inside as opposed to the enclosed patio and found it comfortable, yes, the chairs were wood, but I found them better than many cushioned chairs in other restaurants. The noise level in the full restaurant was low this evening, it was comfortable to talk among our table of four. Overall one of the better experiences in San Diego. Olive oil poached Keta salmon with Pinot wine flight, WOW!

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