First Avenue Bar & Grille is a gem revealed

San Diego is fast becoming quite a place for food gems. Who would’ve thought that inside a chic boutique hotel called The Bristol  lies a restaurant worthy of great praise for its menu and service.

The restaurant also provides in-room dining if hotel guests choose not to come downstairs. I personally loved the comfortable interior and the nice booths which makes for intimate dining.

Start with a cocktail (all $10), either a Cosmopolitan, or my favorite, Cucumber Fresh, a blend of tequila, pressed mint and cucumber and fresh lime juice.

While sipping our cocktails, order some Lightly Fried IPA Battered Green Beans ($4.75) served with Meyer lemon aioli. Honestly, the aioli was the best I’ve ever had. I could really taste the Meyer lemon — unlike lots of places touting an ingredient which was lost somewhere in the midst of creativity.

Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels ($7.75) are a must and at under eight bucks, it’s a STEAL! Neuske’s Applewood smoked bacon, leeks and whole grain mustard complete the well-balanced and full-bodied flavor of the broth and mussels.

I really enjoyed the Smoked Chicken Flatbread ($7.75) with caramelized leeks, roasted tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and cilantro. In fact, I took the leftovers with me and reheated the slices in the toaster oven and they were quite delicious the next day.

What really impressed me were the entrees we had next. Grilled Classic Pepper Steak ($17.25) was a no-nonsense, absolutely perfectly seasoned piece of meat cooked medium rare pink. Truffled potato puree and a frisee-chive parmesan salad accompanied. This is an old-school dish done modern-style and executed exquisitely.

The night of our visit, they were doing a special of Roasted Halibut ($17.50) flavored with Neuske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon on a bed of Chino Farms creamed corn, wild arugula and Connelly Gardens charred tomatoes. This special dish was to help the San Diego Food Bank raise money for the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. I love it when businesses are aware and give back to their community — just another reason to support First Avenue!

Not that we had room for dessert, but our delightful server enticed us to give the House-made Sorbet/Gelato ($5) which changes regularly. Our caramel chocolate swirl gelato was very welcoming and since the only dessert I can’t resist is ice cream, it was right up my alley.

However, it was the avocado gelato which blew my mind. It was creamy smooth and possessed the taste of avocados which I so love. I ate spoonful after spoonful vowing to try to make this at home.

Our experience at First Avenue Bar & Grille was such a pleasant one with attentive service and a menu which is worthy of praise. But who would’ve thought it known it being hidden inside this little hotel? Right now, they are running a prime rib special every Thursday. Go check it out sometime, you won’t be disappointed. 

First Avenue Bar & Grille
inside The Bristol Hotel
1055 First Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: 619-232-6141

First Avenue Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


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