We ended up going to CrabCatcher in La Jolla, mainly because they had a reservation at 7pm. Other places I called were only willing to sit us at 5:30pm or after 9pm. I called on Wednesday for a Saturday reservation. CrabCatcher requires a credit card, so you're charged $10 per person if somebody doesn't show up.
Overall, the experience was OK, food was decent but not great, service was professional if robotic and unwelcoming.
We were asked to order first, and only then the bread was served, including excellent focaccia. There was a rather nice bread oil on the table, but no vinegar.
We started with oysters on the half-shell and mussels - good, but not great. For main course I had scallops with vegetables - 3 scallops were good if somewhat bland, 1 was burnt, vegetables were excellent. My husband tried softshell crab which he really liked, and our waitress accurately described as 'smallish portion' - it wasn't tiny, just a little smaller than other dishes. For desert we shared a tiramisu - huge slice, rather bland-tasting, but perfect texture. Also tried a friend's creme-brulee - it was excellent.
We were seated at the worst table in the place - in the dark corner, although I have asked for a table on the terrace when making the reservation. The hostess said that seating is not guaranteed. We offered to wait untill a better table opens up, but she refused. It felt like a crisp $50 would have helped but I was not willing to go that far.
Neither hostess, nor waiters or busboys wear name tags, so I don't know names of anybody serving us.
We asked to have two separate checks for a table of 7, but the waitress firmly refused.
When considering the wine list, we asked our waitress if she tried the wines on the list - she said she did, but was not able to offer a coherent opinion. She also did not offer to get someone able to advise.
We picked a bottle by chance and luckily it turned out to be excellent - Sauvignon Blank, Duckhorn, Napa Valley 2003. The waitress when rushed to pour the wine, and kept pouring when it wasn't really necessary, in hopes of us ordering more.
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