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R.I.P., Red Velvet

Foolishly, I waited and didn't make it to Red Velvet before it closed. Thanks for writing this article and the info asimplemenu.com. I can agree with your comment about SD having the best craft beers, although there are way too many IPAs and too few lagers, and I love IPAs. However, I can't agree with you about best Mexican food. As a former Chicagoan, there is nothing remotely close in SD to Topolombampo or even the Frontera Grill. I had a stellar wine-paired meal at Topolombampo, where the dishes were elegant and most had a touch of heat, but was not overpowering, and was perfectly complemented by the wine. There are a number of former Bayless employees who have ventured off and started their own restaurants and some are supposed to be impressive. I hope you're right about SD breaking into the ranks of top 10 restaurant cities, but I'm fearful that with the departures of Region, The Better Half and others, we're headed the other way.
— July 21, 2011 6:37 p.m.

Average Easy Comforts of La Playa Bistro

I've eaten at La Playa 5-6 times and will admit that I've always had a pleasant experience--the company of good friends, friendly staff, and in my opinion, decent to good, but certainly not great food. Like Old Venice, and similar in a number of ways, La Playa is walking distance from the location where I take a class. With the dearth of choices in Pt. Loma, I'm a repeat customer. If The Pearl were in walking distance, that would be my first choice. I wish the numerous affluent Pt. Loma residents had supported Roseville (for not so affluent, it wasn't that pricey and it was worth going to share a dish or two). Even though its food was at a different price point, there was a superiority of ingredients (and wine selection), creativity and execution. For those of you who didn't make it there, they had my favorite duck confit in SD. I don't always agree with Ms. Wise's reviews, but to me, it's obvious that she possesses a great deal of experience, knowledge and insight, and I usually learn something about food preparation and history from almost every one of her reviews, to the point I think I have a greater appreciation of food as a result. Check out some of the restaurants included in Ms. Wise's Best Bites of the Year and objectively evaluate if La Playa's dishes are as good as those she mentions in that article. That said, everyone is entitled to like what you like. I'm a Windy City transplant and have cravings for unhealthy Chicago hot dogs, Italian beef and even White Castle. I also have had the pleasure of dining at Charlie Trotter and have eaten 2 of my all time favorite meals in my life at Schwa, where I experienced glorious artistic creations, and then got to consume them. To me, there's a vast chasm between great food and restaurants I've experienced and what some believe to be great food/restaurant at La Playa.
— February 5, 2011 9:05 a.m.

Smoking or Non?

I recently went to Chicago BBQ and have now been to all three places in the review. I agree that Frankie was a clear number one out of the three. Not only did the meats have some flavor of smoke, there were more spices in the sauce. btw, Frankie now has an alcohol license and has a sign up for Happy Hour. Regarding, Lil' Piggy's I thought it was the worst Q in town with the exception of Texas BBQ. All of the ingredients, including the meats seemed to be of inferior quality with the mac 'n cheese reminiscent of my college days eating a generic brand that I bought 10 for a buck. Finally, regarding Chicago BBQ, the service was quite attentive and the meats (pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs) were tender, which wasn't the case my last visit to Phil's at 9pm when I was served dried out pork. However, the overwhelming flavor was sugar and everything (sauces and even the cole slaw) was way too sweet, to me. The free lemon chicken soup, ala German's and the other seafood truck on El Cajon, is a nice touch, but the soup was somewhat bland. Regarding the many vitriolic comments about Naomi, it's almost laughable that some readers think Naomi's comments were racist, and by implication, that she is a racist. Anyone who has read her regularly should be able to discern that she unabashedly displays her political beliefs and she tilts left of center and then some. Anyone who takes offense to racism, which I hope is everyone, should realize Naomi is on your side, at least politically. If you can't see that, it makes me wonder what else you're not correctly perceiving. As another reader wrote, we all have different tastes and we're all entitled to like what we like. However, the comments that Naomi doesn't know her business, when she has constantly displayed her insight of ingredients, culinary preparation and even the history of various cuisines, is about as misguided as the racist comments. I may not always agree with her, but I've learned a lot from her. One last comment, in the current issue of Wine Spectator there's an article about Kansas City BBQ's with the title "Where There's BBQ, There's Smoke?" Sound familiar?
— June 24, 2009 7:53 a.m.
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