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Recent Reviews
 

Austin D.

San Diego, CA

Nov 23, 2009

 
 
Ould Sod

San Diego, CA

At the risk of being ostracized by my "regular" friends, though, there were some serious issues I have with the joint:
- You still have to BRIBE the karaoke-master/mistress. I thought that was a unique thing that the jokers at Lamplighter do, but apparently it's a universal, or at least a SD thing. Money talks, BS gets bumped to the bottom of the list (or, rather, not added at all)!

- The staff (the karaoke master and at least one of the other staff) gets up there and sings. Now I'm all for everyone having some fun, but on a Saturday night, when there is an "hour and fifteen minutes" wait as I was told when I gave my request, then the staff goes up there and sings some numbers, THAT AIN'T RIGHT. (note to self: call Turko files)

- This place is not a dive bar. Drinks were not "dive bar" cheap ($5.50 for a draught pint); plus the bathrooms were clean. I didn't have to hold my breath or anything while in there! By my reckoning, that makes this place a faux dive.

All in all, it was a fun night, though, but much more so because of the company than the establishment itself.

Austin D.

San Diego, CA

Nov 23, 2009

 
 
 
 
Ritual Tavern

San Diego, CA

This is quickly becoming one of my new favorite neighborhood spots.

Unique pub-fare-with-a-conscience as most of the ingredients are locally grown ("local" is the new "organic", dont'cha know). The ketchup and mustard are each great and are housemade! (That's right, I just raved about condiments, but there really hasn't been much innovation here well, since, the first 56 varieties were introduced.)

As an a-quadro-pedi-tarian (I don't eat anything that walks on four legs), I find the menu to be a bit limited, but it's still got some good items for me to enjoy (the portobello mushroom sandwich, onion rings are both noteworthy and tasty!) Sorry I can't review the beef, but I bet some other reviewers have that well-covered.

Overall it's a smidge pricey but well worth a visit, espeically with happy hour specials on their unique selection of mostly local draft brews from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

One small nit: the cheese board wasn't that great; one of the cheeses they served on a particular visit had fennel or something, not good. And it seemed smallish portions of each cheese. However the server brought us some extra bread which was great, so that made up for it.

Great outdoor patio, dog friendly, knowledgeable and friendly (but not overbearing) staff.

Make it part of your weekly ritual! (Sorry, couldn't resist, you may throw your locally grown tomatoes now).

Austin D.

San Diego, CA

Nov 23, 2009

 
 
 
 
 
Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro

San Diego, CA

This jewel is tucked away in the basement level of a gaudy 80's style building in Hillcrest. This is one case where the adage "Don't judge a book by its cover" has never rung truer.

Why does this establishment earn the coveted 5-stars? Simply put, it gets everything right. The owner, Moumen (like "Newman") is friendly, ambitious, creative, passionate, and knows how to cook great Moroccan food.

The decor was authentic and intimate without being obnoxious.

We began with a few appetizers, and my friend ordered the "Menu II" tasting, a five course meal.

The soup was tasty (I find vegetarian soups usually lacking in flavor; not the case here).

Then on to an eggplant dish, some skewers, and the b'stila. Oh the b'stila. It's a savory pastry made with chicken, phyllo dough, spices and sugar and cinnamon. When I recounted my experience at Marrakesh (I took the pic of the bastilla with the camel on it in the Yelp review), Moumen proceeded to explain the intricacies of making b'stila. The time he spent chatting with us and the other customers was another demonstration of his dedication to his craft and to his restaurant.

For the entree, I ate the fish special, a halibut and shrimp dish served in a savory sauce which was perfectly spiced and seasoned. Listening to Moumen explain the subtleties of using the right amount of exotic spices just added to the experience, even though by then I had already licked my plate clean. My friend had the lamb shank which melted off the bone.

What I appreciate about Kous Kous is how they are taking a different, more modern approach than traditional Moroccan restaurants. No cheesy overwrought music. No belly dancers (not that there's anything wrong with that). Just really good food in a fine dining atmosphere. The tapas menu is also something Kous Kous is innovating (as it's not traditionally done with Moroccan cuisine). On subsequent visits I will be sure to order from that menu.

While I agree with other reviewers that it is a bit on the pricey side, Moumen pointed out (and was obvious after eating the meal) that this type of cuisine is very labor intensive. And it was worth every penny.

Oh, and free (validated) parking.