There are a handful of truly "old school" places in San Diego, not faux old school, but old enough to recall....say the 70's? It's all relative I guess? For me that's barely old enough, though for myfriends who are in their 30's, this is more than old school, this is before they started school! What started as a "hey, how about this...." conversation started to take shape. And since there are a couple of places in our neighborhood...and I don't mean the Silver Spigot, which is in a class by itself, I had thoughts about going to Old Trieste. I was soon convinced not to go, based on a couple of "scary food" statements from some friends. So we we settled on Baci.....meanwhile, the folks at Baci opened up a gastro-pub next door called Luce. The menu looked promising, I saw lines out to the sidewalk when driving by soon after the soft opening, and heck, Bay Park could really use a place like that. My good friend Candice told me an "new school - old school" night might be fun. We'd start at Luce for some drinks and appetizers and move on to Baci for dinner. So even though I usually don't post on these type of places, we had a fun and interesting night.....so why not break character for a post or two, right?
First, though the setting is fairly loud.....boisterous and fun is how your neighborhood tavern/pub should be, right? The decor is nice, the vibe is casual and neighborly, though the space is fairly small.
The bottled beer list is decent and though not large, there's enough stuff on tap to keep me interested. I started with a Ballast Point Calico Amber, which was a great way to start a weekend. Unfortunately, it was the highlite of my experience at Luce.
The menu is full of fairly intriguing items, sorta-kinda hip, perhaps a bit behind the curve stuff, like Pork Belly tacos. But it still sounds fun......and heck, who am I to talk about what's hip?
We started with the Pork Drumsticks ($6), which are a riff on Monkey Paw's Drunken Monkey Bones, basically pork shank pieces cut to vaguely resemble chicken wings.
First the good; these were braised nicely, soft and tender. Not so good; the pork was smeared with a glaze when reheated that was sweet, but that's about it...very one tone, I was wishing for some simple salt and pepper to help these. It looked so good, but didn't deliver.
The Braised Lamb Tacos were also not very pleasing.
Well, just for a value check, guess the price of these two rather scrawny tacos. Would you guess eight bucks ($8)? The lamb was dry, the tortillas seemed very low quality, and were also dry, they just tore apart when you tried to pick them up. Again, these were very low on the flavor scale.
The last item we tried were the Escargot Mushrooms.
This was another dish that could have used more aggressive seasoning. Also, there seemed to be but the tiniest piece of escargot on each mushroom, which really didn't matter much since it was very hard and rubbery. The sauce could have used more garlic and was very watery....give 'em some umph and get 'em to drink another beer!
We had thoughts about ordering more, but decided to cut our losses and just head next door a bit early to see if they had a table ready. On the good side, though a bit overwhelmed, our Server was very sweet as can be. Perhaps I need to order other items, or return after the grand opening period, once things settle down. But if it's anything like the evening we were here; a line of at least a dozen waiting outside when we left, maybe there's no motivation.... so we'll see.
Luce Bar & Kitchen
1959 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
So, would dinner at "Old School" Baci turn things around? Stay tuned!