[For additional commentary and a couple photos, check my San Diego Food Blog which is linked below. Thanks!]
Last Friday night, my husband Daniel and I ate dinner in the more casual wing of Island Prime, which is called C-Level Lounge.
Daniels parents, Rick & Letty, accompanied us and as soon as we walked in, they informed us that they came to this same location in the 1960s for their Junior Prom! I wonder what the San Diego skyline must have looked like back then. Today, this location offers one of the best views in the city. You can gaze across S.D. Harbor and take in the full breadth of the urban skyline. The only place I can imagine that even comes close with the view is Peohes on Coronado, which offers a similar scene with the Coronado Bridge behind you. Places like these reaffirm how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful and stunning city. It truly is Americas Finest City.
I heard about C Level Lounge through Candices review of her favorite spots with a view in San Diego. Next I checked out the word from the Chowhounds, where I quickly learned that the restaurant still has some service issues since its new. We definitely found that to be true. The food was pretty good, but the view is what really gives this place the potential to be a real San Diego institution.
C-Level Lounge doesnt take reservations. We arrived at 7pm and were told that the wait would be 30 minutes. We had a drink in the bar, but unfortunately we didnt receive our table for a full hour! Also, Letty was disappointed because she was told we would have a window table and it really wasnt. We were in the middle of the dining room, not near the railing. So, we were off to a slow start, but willing to overlook it in favor of focusing on being happy together and enjoying the view as much as we could.
Heres what we ordered:
* Skyline Martini -$10 - Raspberry Vodka, Chambord, Champagne Float garnished with fresh berries - I found this martini to be rather lackluster. I definitely know fruity martinis and this was nothing special, in my opinion.
* Port of Bellini - $12 - Peach Vodka, DeKyuyper peach schnapps, peach nectar, lemon juice with a champagne float & sugar cane stick - This was my second cocktail and I liked it much better. Mildy fruity, but perhaps a little to frothy and heavy to accompany a meal.
* The Pacific Emerald - $10 - Mandarin Vodka, Midori, Blue Curacao, lime, sugar, & orange twist - Daniel enjoyed this one with our meal.
* Tartare of Filet Mignon - $11.95 - With caper berries and a grain-mustard-truffle vinaigrette, this dish left us underwhelmed, mainly because we are used to the Kobe Beef Sashimi from Nobu. Nothing really compares after that.
* Kemo Sabes Famous Nut Crusted Brie - $12.95 - With honey roasted garlic and jalapeno jelly, if it was supposed to be served warm, then it really wasnt. Also, we had to ask for more crackers on which to put the brie because they only give you a few to start with.
* Peanut Calamari - $9.95 - Served with Vietnamese dipping sauce, the in-laws and Daniel seemed to enjoy it, although Im not the biggest calamari fan. My mother-in-law complained that too many of the pieces were tentacles, but I don't know if that's just a personal preference.
* C-Level Burger - $12.95 - This is served on an artisan roll with parmesan truffle fries. The waitress told us this is a great burger because its made from scraps from the high-quality meat from next door at Island Prime. All four of us ordered this for dinner. Actually Daniel and I split one. The first problem was that the fries were not hot, or even really warm. And there was no sign of truffle-y-ness to be found. They were just plain salted fries as far as I could tell. The second problem arose when the chef cooked our burgers incorrectly and it wasnt possible for us to switch and settle the problem on our own at the table because each of us ordered different condiments and toppings. When Lettys replacement burger came out, the fries were piping hot and much improved over the ones the rest of us had received.
We somehow resisted dessert, even though we all have notoriously sweet teeth. Instead, we walked over to the railing and watched the fireworks over a big carrier ship in the harbor. Stunning.
When I set out writing this review, I thought it would be a lot more positive than Im sure it sounds. I dont like badmouthing restaurants, but I have to be honest. If some of the service and quality issues are straightened out soon, Island Prime could become a new San Diego classic. I plan to give it another chance some day, maybe after I hear from others that the kinks have been worked out.