2550 Fifth Avenue, 12th floor, Bankers Hill
I’ve long heard that Mr. A’s has the best view in town, but I’ve avoided finding out for myself. For a while, the jacket-and-tie dress code kept me away (I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a sports jacket and a blazer). Even though they’ve relaxed those rules in the past few years, it had me thinking the place was out of my budget. In truth, lunch entrées start in the $20 price range, dinner at $30. I don’t like to pay that much often, but it happens.
Friends lured me to the Bertrand at Mr. A’s patio. In deference to Bertand, I wore a collared shirt and left the hoodie at home. It was about 6 p.m. when I rode the elevator to the 12th floor, just early enough for dinner seating to have begun. I give credit to the young women at the hostess stand — I received not a whiff of guff about my jeans or unkempt beard. And though I passed a dining room of pristinely groomed individuals, if they thought I needed a haircut, they kept their glares to a minimum.
I found my friends seated in a sunny part of the deck looking west over Point Loma and the airport and south across the bay to Coronado, a view framed by the downtown skyline. The skyrise vista certainly has plenty going for it, especially to celebrate a special occasion.
We were seeing off a friend, raising drinks to her new life in the Pacific Northwest. None of us wanted to spend much money on food, so it worked out to split some of the small plates available on the patio. They were priced reasonably enough — most items go for $10.50, and though not huge portions, they were enough to balance the drinks. A couple of us split dishes, including Kobe beef sliders with truffle fries and rare ahi sliders with “frito mixto.”
Though only two to a plate, the ahi sliders were my favorite, partly due to the fish, partly the avocado topping and side of remoulade, but mostly due to the flavorful slice of tomato bringing it together. Who’d have thought tomato could effectively dominate a fish sandwich? The frito mixto turned out to be a smattering of light tempura-battered and fried vegetables. These included green beans, brocolini, and a mild jalapeño, yet somehow all of them wound up tasting like salty potato chips. That’s probably a pleasant discovery for those who don’t enjoy vegetables. The fritos were fun to eat and inspired another round of drinks.
The truffle fries aroused some thirst, even before we decimated the plate. The Kobe sliders let the meat carry the flavor, meaning not a lot of seasoning. They featured the same tomatoes as the ahi, but somehow these tomatoes didn’t register as brightly with the beef. On the plus side, there were three of them, and I wouldn’t have complained if there were six.
Meanwhile, our sunny day remained bright, but being on a 12th floor patio meant our summery attire was no longer cutting it as a chilly breeze picked up. Turns out Bertrand was right all along, and I should have worn a jacket.