Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Steak Sandwich at La Jolla Groves

The service was, for the most part, very good and the Sourdough Steak Sandwich was tasty as well.  However, the cost was a little too steep for my taste.  It seems that most everything had its pros and cons, but the sandwich was good.

The Riverwoods is a place that the lunch crew does not like to frequent.  For starters, we prefer places with parking.  I have mixed emotions about the changes made to their main street (now main walkway); I really like the change but parking was already a difficult experience beforehand and now it's crossed the line to atrocious.  However, road rage does seem to build up an appetite and the Riverwoods definitely has that cure, but if you're new to the area I would recommend coming early just to get a spot at all -- much less a good one.  You'll thank me later.

The main entry way into La Jolla Groves
Now that my rant about the parking and the general location is out of the way, on to the review of La Jolla Groves.  It was a bit difficult to find because there wasn't a big sign outside the entry way or above the front door indicating where it was like there are on the other establishments in the area (or just in general).  There was a metal stand with the words "La Jolla Groves" written on a piece of paper pointing the way for us to go, but I almost ended up in their bakery section simply because the name was written on the door.  Luckily, though, we did find the location and a parking spot before we starved.   But finding it wasn't as easy as one would expect.

Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing we noticed was the fragrance of the flowers near the entryway.  The rustic theme of the area faded quickly into a lemon grove after walking past the stone archway.  I heard they had a cheese steak here and I was looking forward to try it, but I was slightly disappointed to see that it's a Sourdough Steak Sandwich and not an actual cheese steak.  However, I'm one who likes sourdough and decided that was the way to go.  And it was a good decision.

PhotobucketThe Sourdough Steak Sandwich comes with sourdough bread, grilled marinated steak, cheese, grilled onions, some kind of dressing, lettuce, and tomato.  It also included a side salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  The sourdough bread was a very mild sourdough. It took me a while when eating the sandwich to remember what kind of bread came with it (which is very ironic considering that's the reason why I ordered it).  I do like sourdough bread but not at the expense of the sandwich. I thought that the different tastes blended well and complimented each other.  The steak was well cooked and tender, the cheese wasn't very noticeable but it was there, and the hint of spread accented the sandwich.  Surprisingly, though, I really liked the lettuce and tomato.  Most of the time they get overlooked, but this time they stood out perhaps because they were the only vegetables on the sandwich.

PhotobucketFor dessert I had a lemon cake.  I was expecting a cake wedge, instead I got a round cake with crystalized sugar topping.  This was a tough dish to eat mainly because I had a tough time bringing myself to break the netting.  However, it was pretty good.  At first I thought the taste of lemon was just right.  I really enjoy lemon cake and I like the lemon to stand out and make itself known.  There should be no question when tasting a crumb that it is a lemon cake.  At first I found the lemon taste to be quite adequate but it seemed to deteriorate as I ate my way through the cake.  It was good, and I would probably buy it again just for the plating, but it wasn't as strong as I would like.

Although I did like the taste of the food, I didn't like the portion sizes.  I almost stopped at Del Taco on the way back for one or two $0.99 burritos to finish the job, but settled on a drink run instead.  I have mixed emotions with the service as well.  I think they have one person there who does nothing but top off glasses and he did a great job of keeping it filled.  I never reached for an empty glass.  However, I did order a Diet Coke along with the water which never showed up.  I wasn't charged for it, but I really would have liked it.  Overall I thought it was mostly good.  The service was good but not great, the sandwich was great but not filling, the price is steep, the decor grand, and the odds of a return trip probable.  I will return to impress a date (and combine it with a movie to get popcorn that will hopefully fill me up) but not for an informal trip with the lunch crew.  The crew likes good food at a low price and this just misses the price mark.

Cost and Big John Rating
$9.49 = Sourdough Steak Sandwich
$6 = Lemon Cake
7 = Service
9 = Ambiance
9 = Taste
9 = Quality
7.3 = Price Rating
8.0 = Big John Rating

Notable URLs
La Jolla Groves
Shops at the Redwoods
La Jolla Groves on Urbanspoon

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