Here's an entry for a fun little dinner party with Amanda/Tyler and Nicole/Justin. Again, my apologies for not changing the date to a Saturday so a few more people could have possibly made it. It's cool though, because I'm sure we'll all have plenty of opportunities to get together! Am I right? Am I right?
For this particular get-together I choose The Better Half after reading about it in an ass-ton of articles and reviews. I just had to see what the fuss was all about. I heard the actual dining area was small. Yeah no kidding. I do not suggest you come here with a party of more than four, since the tables are a bit on the small side and there isn't much room to move/walk around.
Seared Périgord Foie Gras:
It's been awhile since I've had foie gras and I was really looking forward to this dish. Alas, it was a bit of a letdown. Alright for $14 I wasn't expecting a big serving of liver, but come on now. This was barely a full bite! Okay sure Périgord, France claims to be a good region for foie gras production, but seriously...all I get is just this little sliver of liver? On a more positive note, however, the liver tasted amazing!
By the way, this is a warm salad. I really liked the vinaigrette, but The Better Half used a bit too much. Each bite I took was just dripping with it and I think I might have splashed Tyler next to me. Don't worry man, the stain will come right out! Flavors here are very balanced and works well with the seared foie gras.
This was really cute. Looks big, but I just tossed the whole thing in my mouth. Orange peel gives it the subtle taste of oranges. I think they make this from scratch!
This is my first time having duck confit, and I think I'll be ordering it in other restaurants from now on! Confit is made by curing the meat(salt/garlic) and poaching it in its own fat. Classic recipes calls for frying or grilling it till crisp. Hot damn doesn't that sound good? Underneath the crispy skin was super tender meat. I really dig this entree. The skin is savory with hints of garlic and XYZ herbs/seasoning (I have no clue what they added). There was also this very faint sweetness to it that totally brings it to a whole new level. Omit that sweetness and the skin is nothing! There really isn't a whole lot of meat on the leg/thigh of a duck, but I was really full by the time I cleaned off the plate.
Chard and lentils were okay. I don't like vegetables very much. The only reason I put up with them is so that I don't get cancer. Plus, fiber is good for you.
Our party also ordered the “Ispahnski Pelmeni” Pasta (Pork Confit, Chipotle Azeitão Queso & Cilantro Filled Ancho Chile Russian Dumplings Roasted Poblano Pepper & Tomatillo Sauce) and South Dakota Bison Barbecue Ribs (Maple & Smoked Ham Black Eyed Peas, “Southern” Cole Slaw Basil Hayden Bourbon & Watermelon Mint Glaze). Tell me those entrees don't sound cool! As Tyler described it, the pasta tasted like it had Mexican influences. I concur. If Mexicans made pasta, this is what it would taste like. It tastes like kick-ass! The ribs were pretty interesting. Our table found them to be kinda like beef ribs but with less fat (still extremely tender). I wonder where I can buy bison steak?
Surprisingly, I was stuffed by the end of the meal and couldn't tuck in dessert. Shocking, I know. I NEVER pass up dessert! Nicole and Justin still had room left so they both tried the crepes and creme brulee. Both of them gave the thumbs up. I hear Nicole's quite the creme brulee fan, so if she says it's good then it's damned good.
Food and service were very good and our server was pretty entertaining. But when we requested separate checks (only 3!), the staff did a 180, freaked out, and stopped refilling our drinks. Here's the real kicker: our server claimed that working out the checks would take more than 20 minutes. He even made a small show of doing some initial calculations while at our table. What the hell? We all thought it was a joke at first, but our checks really did take 20 minutes to come to us. This would be forgivable if the restaurant was busy, but I only spotted 2-3 couples in the restaurant. It's really not that hard to add and multiply. Now subtracting and dividing? That might take a bit longer. When we finally did get our checks, we were pleasantly surprised to find that an 18% gratuity had already been added. Thanks!
All in all though, The Better Half is a nice place to have a quiet, private dinner. Food's good, but certain items may be $3-6 overpriced. Not a big deal I guess since this is a small establishment and dishes we had all tasted pretty good. I'm still salivating over that duck confit...
If you plan to come here, you must remember two things:
1) Parking is a nightmare. Try to find a space inside the residential neighborhood to the south.
2) Don't torment the staff by requesting separate checks and making them do basic arithmetic. They'll get you back by forcing a 20min wait.
Alice's review can be found here.
The Better Half Bistro
127 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103