San Diego Restaurant Week, 2009

San Diego Restaurant Week: $20-$30-$40, A Feast for All Budgets

January of 2009 was the culinary kick-off of the dining season, via San Diego Restaurant Week’s fifth year.  Over 175 participants served up their finest.  A new element was the tri-level price points, with restaurants featuring three-course, prix fixe meals for $20, $30 and $40 (drinks and tips not included). Big decision: which to choose?  When in doubt, sample one of each.

$20 was Greek night for us.  My wife and I ate at Appolonia Greek Bistro in La Jolla. Its friendly owner, Tony Farah, lovingly watches over his completely remodeled restaurant, formerly Aesop’s Table.  For some reason, names of Greek food resonate with me.  Dolmathakia, tzatziki, spanakopita, filo, feta, hummos, pita, falafel, moussaka and my favorite word of all, baklava, all jumped from the menu and ended up at our table. It’s easy to try different dishes and still have take-home; the portions are generous at this reasonably priced touch of Greece.

$30 took us to the intimate French Gourmet, but it felt more like a countryside farmhouse in France (actually we were in Pacific Beach). We started with escargots and streamed clams, moved onto poached Maine lobster and beef tenderloin and finished up with an artisan cheese plate and patisserie maison (pastries of the day). Each course was enhanced by a flight of wines suggested by our sommelier. Attentive service, freshly prepared food and a comfortable setting make this a favorite neighborhood restaurant.

$40 brought us to an iconic American meal at Island Prime. The location on Harbor Island, with lights twinkling from downtown San Diego, makes this a very romantic spot. The Cohn Group of restaurants is a favorite of mine and Chef Deborah Scott’s influence can be felt throughout the operation.  Beef rule s here and, given their regular menu pricing, $40 is a bargain for this promotion.  We started out by sharing the salad course with a bacon, lettuce and tomato wedge salad with Maytag buttermilk dressing, along with a golden and red beet salad with warm goat cheese and spicy candied walnuts. For our main courses, we chose cedar plank roasted salmon and filet mignon.  Our dessert was pineapple upside down cake with cardamom ice cream and rum caramel sauce.  We also ordered a pistachio torte. Once again, we chose wine pairings that were suggested by our knowledgeable server.

View from Island Prime



Appolonia is open for lunch and dinner.  They are located in the Costa Verde shopping center.  Call for reservations 858-455-1535.  They can be found online at

The French Gourmet is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and its catering and bakery are first rate.  Call for reservations 858-488-1725 or go online to for further information.

Island Prime is open for lunch and dinner.  Reservations are recommended and can be made online at or by calling 619-298-6802.

San Diego Restaurant Week is coming back September 13-18.  Plan to book your reservations early, you won’t be disappointed.  Check online at

Howard Hian

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