We were so excited to try Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant after hearing rave reviews from friends. The restaurant is one of Carl Schroeder’s projects, who was recently nominated for a James Beard Award and is the chef of Market Del Mar. Market does amazing very seasonal and local food and Bankers Hill Restaurant is supposed to be a casual, bistro interpretation of the same kind of fresh food.
The restaurant itself has that industrial/modern look: black walls, reclaimed wood, exposed piping and interesting chandeliers made out of recycled bottles. They also have a nice patio with a wall of succulents. They are fans of a very dimly lit interior, a little too dark in my opinion. We came here on a Sunday around 7 pm and were slightly concerned the restaurant looked so empty considering it was peak dining time.
DRINKS: The restaurant has a great cocktail and craft beer menu. The specialty cocktails are rotated and they are interesting without being too ambitious and have some simple and smart combinations. We tried the Son of a Gun and the Sidecar and we were big fans of both. Their beer selection is quite extensive and they have something for everyone. Including the Bruery‘s Tart of Darkness which I would have ordered were it not for its hefty price tag of $42.
APPETIZERS: We started with the Truffle Fries w/ Aioli and Yuzu-Apple Butter and Boucheron Crostini. The fries are fantastic. They were thin-cut, crispy on the outside and doused in parmesan and parsley with yummy aioli for dipping. The portion is HUGE and would probably be sufficient for 5 people, which I suppose justifies its $10 price tag. The crostini also came with watercress and pistachios, and despite how promising it sounded it was underwhelming. The yuzu was undetectable and there was not enough apple butter or sweetness to play well with the Boucheron. Definitely a dish that sounded great on paper and failed in execution. As a third appetizer/main dish we got the Tuna Tartare with Lemon Aioli. This was a bit of a generic, forgettable tuna tartare. Dressed nicely and with chunks of cucumber and too-thin sesame crackers, but not much else. The lemon aioli was too thick and not very lemon-y, and the red pepper jelly that came with it did not mesh well.
ENTREE: As an entree we got the Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts its hard to screw things up when they are wrapped in bacon. This was tasty but nothing was really great. Good mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts and meatloaf but this could have been really good with a standout sauce or more creative sides.
DESSERT: After an ok meal we decided not to bother with dessert. We were also stuffed from trying to eat that basket-sized portion of truffle fries. Ordered an espresso and it was $3.95 for a huge espresso. I was hoping there would be a cookie with it. No cookie 😦
Overall, it seemed like nothing in the menu really stood out. Sometimes you go to a restaurant and something instantly catches your eye because it sounds that GOOD. Here we had a hard time deciding and it seems we might not have made the best choices. Most of their menu (with the exception of the fries, beets salad and burger) is seasonal and constantly changes. Perhaps it would be wisest to stick to their signature items that do not change. I was also minorly upset that we did not get a bread basket when after looking at some other reviews bread is normally offered.
Son of a Gun $10
Truffle Fries $9.95
Boucheron Crostini $11.75
Tuna Tartare $12.50
Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf $17.50
TOTAL: $83.86 (w/tax)
Definitely a little overpriced, we could have gotten a comparable (and tastier) meal at Brooklyn Girl for 2/3 of the price. We will probably return for happy hour but overall it was a “just OK” experience.
Although I do think that we could have ordered better options I noticed other people had similar experiences so maybe they just haven’t hit their stride yet:
Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant
2202 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101