Wine Vault & Bistro – San Diego Restaurant Week Fail

All week I’ve been looking forward to this meal. When reading the menu I expected a flavor punch from what was described.  Sadly, the Wine Vault & Bistro in Mission Hills just didn’t live up to my expectations.

For the appetizer my husband had the smoked chicken raviolo with chipotle crema.  This was definitely the highlight of the meal for me (yep I stole at least half!).  It was one single raviolo but it was fairly large and very flavorful.

I had the seafood chowder, which I thought was fairly good.  The bowl came with the bay scallops  clam meat, fennel, bacon and leeks alone in a row.  The server brought the broth with her and poured it over at the table, I’d say excellent presentation.  Even though it was served in this way I still felt it could be hotter.  It was yummy, but could use a little more seasoning overall…

I think they must be hiding their seasonings with their wine in that vault because they definitely weren’t on the plate.  I expected a sous vide skirt steak with scallion chimichurri to really sing… but instead it was a bland plate of food.  The black bean ragout was also under seasoned  and the “glazed vegetables” consisted of pearl onions, another type of quartered onion and the whites of scallions as well as one brussel sprout cut in half and a few shreds of what might have been carrots.  I was not impressed with the flavors, but with a comically small portion size for what they called an “entre” I guess at least I didn’t have too much to get through.

My husband did enjoy the cedar plank roasted salmon, which was very smokey.  I thought his sunchoke chips and sunchoke puree were delicious and swiped at them with the bread when he wasn’t looking.  It too was a serving smaller than a deck of cards… if we hadn’t spent so much on dinner I think he would have grabbed a burrito at El Indio on the way home!

The cinnamon butter cookies were delicious with ice cream and the rum raisin compote drizzled with a 34 year old sherry.  On the other hand, our other desert was a tiny cube of brioche covered with cold pumpkin puree (tasted like the canned kind), topped with the stinkiest blue cheese ever with a side of muddled berries… well, lets just say nothing really went well together on that plate.  I just imagined it must be some kind of WOW flavor combo, but instead it was barely palateable and we left most of it behind.

Maybe I’m just getting picky, but I just expect a restaurant to have good tasting, well seasoned food.  It seems like I’ve been disappointed far too often when trying new restaurants, and I am hesitant to continue to look.  Why pay so much for so little (in both flavor and amount).  I don’t quite understand why anyone would have to leave a three course dinner only to go home and have a snack, but I suppose this is the “Bistro” part of the name… is that why the French are so thin?


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