1974 San Diego guide to restaurant reviews

Eleanor Widmer makes debut

  • The Paprika
  • “Think of Hungarian cuisine and you think of sour cream, soups, and liquid-plenty stews, more ways of cooking cabbage than anyone could think possible, and dumplings, and hot noodle desserts, and light fairy-fragile strudels. . . but you won’t find it here. The cooking is plain and unadorned, even dowdy, never underground gourmet.”
  • Kathleen Woodward, November 29, 1973
  • The Restaurant on the Lagoon
  • "Promising first of all because here there is nothing which smacks of mass production, here there is no sense of over-sell. . . And although it’s altogether too casual for the ambitious cuisine, it does have the substantial virtue of not possessing that all-too-carefully manipulated atmosphere designed to make $$$ which is characteristic of most new restaurants in San Diego.”
  • Kathleen Woodward, December 13, 1973
  • Green Bamboo
  • “Although the Americans may not have succeeded in winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people, the Vietnamese may yet win the stomachs of the Americans.”
  • William Wang, January 3, 1974
  • Athens Market
  • “True, you won’t find Moussaka or the Greek egg and lemon soup on the menu, but in the market you’ll see rows of art-deco gallons of olive oil. . . and bunches of uncrushed oregano, and glass jars of pinenuts and Greek olives and pistachios.”
  • Kathleen Woodward, January 17, 1974
  • El Chalan
  • “A vivacious, vociferous lady at the table next to use, who, by the way, swore by the soup, earnestly declared to the owner upon
  • leaving. ‘I’m not from Peru, but I love the food, I love the food,’ amiably lifted her glass of wine and informed us that we could get it at any liquor store up the block.”
  • Kathleen Woodward, February 7, 1974
  • Swan Song
  • "A San Diego restaurant with a sexual twist of lemon slipped in.. . In a building which formerly housed the eight balls and cues of a Billiard Den, we now find Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca...”
  • Kathleen Woodward, February 28, 1974
  • Fish House West; Carnegie A-440; Alphonso’s Hideway
  • “Three coastal possibilities, .all positive. . .a supple place for supper, for talking, casual, one that bears rerunning and repeating.. .a cost-less ritual.”
  • Kathleen Woodward, March 14, 1974
  • Old Spaghetti Factory
  • “You don’t have to be a respectable customer or a good “worker.” You don’t have to keep your voice down to an appropriate level. . .it’s a scene especially for kids, visiting firemen, and cutups.”
  • Kathleen Woodward, May 2, 1974
  • Chinaland
  • “For twenty years now Chinaland has been a beacon of delight in my usual economic fog. . .
  • Where else can you drive-in to a full five-course Chinese meal? Where else can you get Budweiser with your fortune cookies?”
  • Beth Lyons, June 27, 1974
  • Ballast Room at Buffum’s
  • “The view is hecht shopping mall — if you can forget the parking lot below and the Security Pacific Bank building that scratches the sky like a needle, the hills and sky could be the Granada of your interior life.”
  • Eleanor Widmer, July 4, 1974
  • Three Mermaids
  • “The important fact to remember about Polish cooking is that while it appears unpretentious and without fripperies, the recipes for any of the dishes require dozens of ingredients, hours of slow cooking, and a person to stir, replenish, taste, and worry over the cauldrons.”
  • Eleanor Widmer, July 18, 1974
  • Crown Room; Mediterranean Room; Portola Room
  • “It’s part of our psychological heritage, isn’t it, to get our money’s worth, and since most brunches have a fixed price, we rationalize our gluttony by saying that at these prices we can scarcely do otherwise.”
  • Eleanor Widmer, July 25, 1974
  • Takaraya
  • “Like multi-colored moths (the waitresses) swish above the flames stirring, quick frying, preparing the food that is to satisfy not merely your palate but your eye. . . But essentially, this restaurant is intended for the thin stomach and fat purse.”
  • Eleanor Widmer, August 8, 1974
  • Imperial House
  • “The decor, the atmosphere, the service announce with insistence that you are in a quality restaurant, where the signs of affluence, if not pretentiousness, override your main purpose for being there.”
  • Eleanor Widmer, August 22, 1974
  • Spice Rack
  • “You can borrow a cushion or inquire about a particular dish from any of the diners. It is as if you are at a party where everyone wants to be helpful.”
  • Eleanor Widmer, September 5, 1974
  • Silver Dragon
  • “Since it is situated parallel to Interstate 5, you see its neon sign in a blur of others, in which the Silver Spigot and the Silver Dragon merge into the gaudy night star that calls itself City Chevrolet. If you can manage to stay your impulse to zoom past, it will be worth your while to cut across Milton St. to Morena Blvd.”
  • Eleanor Widmer, September 12, 1974

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