Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Heart South Park (Vagabond)

For a long, long time I have wanted to live in South Park. One of my greatest regrets in life is that I did not beg, borrow or steal in order to buy a house there ten years ago, when they cost $150K. Now you cannot buy a two bedroom "fixer" for less than $500K, and a lovely craftsman in Burlingame (the pinnacle of my house-lust) sells for $1.2 million within twenty four hours of hitting the market. Ah well, such is my lot in life - to envy those who live in old houses. I suppose the grass would be greener somewhere else if I lived there.

At least I can always visit. The other day, my good friend Susan and I ventured across the canyon for a leisurely lunch at Vagabond. (We were such ladies who lunch - before that we had our hair done!)

A few weeks ago I had dinner there with my husband James (who I have been married to for four years as of today. Yaay!) While we liked the atmosphere, the food was nothing to write home about. We shared the charcuterie plate and calamari, I ordered the Carne de Seco and my husband had the Coq au Vin. The Seco was a beef stew made with inexpensive meat (a bit stringy) and the Coq au Vin was a little too sweet. I did like the charcuterie though - it was a nice starter with some bread and wine. Tres Francais. I wasn't wowed by the calamari - it was a bit underdone and I found the whole garlic cloves to be inedible. The best part was the saffron aioli, which they also serve with their bread.

This time, we went all out. I started with a glass of wine (Viognier) and Susan and I shared the lunchtime charcuterie platter, which includes a small green salad.

When I walked in, I noticed the owner was eating the mussels for lunch at one of the bar tables. Another friend of mine had just been raving about them, so between these two recommendations I figured I had to get them. Susan had the filet mignon sandwich, which I neglectfully did not photograph. She said it was "ok" - I had one bite, and it did not wow me either. We shared a chocolate mousse dessert stuffed with "cherry creme brulee."
As you can see, we did not like it at all.
I am happy to report that this meal was better than the first - primarily because of the mussels. The preparation is unusual in that there is very little broth. Instead, the mussels are sauced with garlicky creme fraiche, sliced fennel and celery. It is rich but delicious, and would be great to share. If you are a fan of mussels, you simply must try these.

The chocolate bombe was rich and velvety, but we couldn't taste the cherry creme brulee. We could see it in there, but the flavor was overwhelmed by the chocolate. They might have been better off just adding some brandied cherries - like Cafe Chloe does to their chocolate pot de creme.

After lunch, I waddled over to M Theory and picked up a couple of cds for my husband's anniversary present. He's an Elvis Costello fan, so I picked up a double disk re-issue of This Year's Model and the new Minus 5 album, which apparently just came out. I couldn't believe I got the jump on him! M Theory is a great little independent music store selling movies, cds and records (actual vinyl!) and good old-fashioned record players. Unfortunately, they lost their lease in their old location at Juniper and 30th, but they moved everything one block West and half a block South to their former used annex. There is also a cute boutique on corner of Juniper near there called Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams (or something similar.) They carry trendy baby clothes and gifts, cookbooks, cards and gift items.

After checking that out, I stopped in at Rebecca's Coffeehouse for a couple of their famous scones. These are definitely worth a detour if you're ever in the neighborhood.The choices were "Banana Cream" and "Tangerine Chocolate" - so naturally I ordered one of each. The Tangerine Chocolate is absolutely decadent.
All of these places are located near the intersection of 30th and Juniper, at the heart of the South Park business district. There are a few other shops in the area including Plum Pottery and a new age bookstore called the Grove. The Whistle Stop bar is also nearby.

2310 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 255-1035

recommended dishes: charcuterie platter, moules frites.

M Theory Music
South Park:
2234 30th Street
(619) 269-2963

Mission Hills:
2234 West Washington
619) 224-2085

Rebeccas Coffeehouse
3023 Juniper Street
(619) 284-3663
open daily @ 5:30
open 24 hours, Thurs, Fri and Sat.


  1. Happy Anniversary! That dessert looks great! Now, after reading your post, I'm craving chocolate, mussels, and cheese!

  2. This is a cruel cruel site.
    It’s 1 am in the morning and me with the munchies blog hopping and boom, here I am.
    It’s a very nice site that I will be dreaming about tonight thank you very much.
    Have a nice day

  3. Kenny is pretty funny, but Cartman steals the show every time.

  4. Hi Alice - Happy Anniversary! You'll find this interesting, as I was reading this post - "Pump It Up" was playing on my PC - have you taken control of my PC????!!!

  5. Oh, I'm gonna miss South Park & M Theory Music. As a true blue Elvis Costello fan (LOVE THAT MAN) - I say, well done, my friend! My big SD real estate regret is that we didn't buy that luscious little 1920s Spanish bungalow in Kensington when it was listed at $400k (six years ago), alas.

  6. Captain Jack8/4/06, 10:40 AM

    Hi Alice Q,

    Nice post, great pictures. I am going to review Laurel this weekend. I understand you had two mediocre experiences. I hope they step up.

  7. I stop at Rebecca's every time I am in San Diego. The scones are truly Christlike.