Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Better Half

The Better Half was recommended by many reviewers to be a quaint bistro that delivers comforting French fare. I decided to give this place a try and wanted to take advantage of their "Blue Plate" prix fixe menu: $20 for a 3-course meal! Sadly, when we got there, the hostess said that the orders had to be in to the kitchen by 6pm sharp (even though on their website, it said 5-7 pm) so they didn't even let us see the menu... that was pretty irritating! Explanation- the time for the special was changed this week to 5-6 pm. To me, a good restaurant not only needs to have good eats, but good service. If it's listed on the website, it really should be honored... nevertheless, I gave them the benefit of the doubt that the meal will salvage my initial impressions of the place.

Since this restaurant is known for the wide selection of their half bottles of wine, we decided to order rather than bring our own wine. Highly recommended by the waiter, we ordered the 2003 Chateau Fonbadet, a bordeaux. Bold, strong, nice oaky flavors, but lacked in a long aftertaste... for bold, full-bodied wines, I still prefer my Syrahs (or Shiraz...).

The amuse bouche was whipped chevre cheese topped with chipotle orange marmalade in a miniature pastry cup. The fluffiness of the cheese didn't make it too rich and heavy, and the chipotle marmalade have it a nice kick!

Gnocchi with Shrimp and Calamari

This was the seafood special of the day and it was a disappointment. The gnocchi was too dense and felt like globs of dough. Although the shrimp and calamari were not overcooked, they hardly gave you enough to eat... best part of the dish was the seafood sauce- it reminded me of a lobster bisque...

Mushroom Tomato Risotto in a Red Wine Sauce

Al dente risotto cooked in a red wine sauce enveloped small diced pieces of mushrooms and carrots. Unlike most risottos which are white wine-based, the earthier flavor of the red wine blends well with the mushrooms. However, I still prefer my risottos with white wine... but that's just my personal preference.

Needless to say, The Better Half was not one of the better meals I've had in SD. From the service to the entrees, it was sub par. Perhaps we ordered the wrong dishes (both dishes were from the daily specials), or we came on an off night, or the bad service in the beginning put a dent in the whole experience... or our expectations were too high, but I left that dinner dissatisfied and found myself eyeing on the lasagnas a block away at Arrivederci.

The Better Half
127 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

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