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California Cuisine in a Car Dealership?

03. September 2012

OK.  So I’m a little late to the party! 

The spectacular, new and hugely popular Vintana Wine and Dine restaurant in Escondido opened in May.  Finally, last week, I got to see for myself what all the excitement is about.

Also, a Vintana first-timer, my friend, Liz Pursell and I made a date to “do lunch” at the unique and stylish eatery located on the penthouse level of the Lexus Center of Escondido. 

Wow! What a treat!  Vintana’s menu is truly special… a modern, imaginative and tasty take on California cuisine.  But while the food is truly fabulous – it’s the venue that steals the show.

Coming through the front door, the scene is much like any luxury car dealership – a stunning showroom filled with shiny sedans, SUV’s and sports cars and smiling sales people.

But upstairs, on the third floor, you can get your Lexus with a lovely lobster bisque, lemon roasted chicken or langoustine sweet corn fritters.  You also get a breathtaking, panoramic view of the city and countryside. 

Then there’s the view inside the venue.  With 10,000-square feet, you wouldn’t think the cavernous space would provide such a remarkable combination of hi-tech, warmth and light.  With 17-foot high windows, everyone gets a table with a view.  (Actually, the name of the restaurant comes from the Spanish word for window…ventana. The spelling was changed to Vintana as a subtle reference to wine.) 

Speaking of the fruit of the vine…boutique wines, as well as a vodka lounge stocked with more than 100 varieties of the crystal clear spirit make for the perfect “happy hour” happening.

But since it was lunch, Liz and I passed on the wine and opted for a refreshing mango iced tea and a couple of fun starters.  If, like me, you love arugula – order the white bean and arugula salad.  It’s yummy.  Liz gave a thumbs-up to her choice of lobster bisque (topped with a yummy corn fritter). “It’s lobster bisque,” said Liz, “with actual lobster! Delicious!”

Our appetites whetted, Liz and I shared two entrees from the creative menu…a tasty vegetarian whole -wheat flat bread and an unusual, but flavorful “she-crab” BLT.   That said, when I got a look at Vintana’s signature hamburger being served at the next table, I promised myself next time, I’d go for the mouth-watering specialty.

Longtime San Diego chef and culinary genius of the Cohn Restaurant Group, Deborah Scott, stopped by to say hi.  Friendly and down-to-earth, Scott’s creative menu and influence clearly set the tone for the popular Escondido restaurant with cosmopolitan ambience.  

“Vintana is both sophisticated and welcoming,” said Liz of her dining experience.  “The service is excellent…the atmosphere a comfortable combination of casual and special occasion.” I couldn’t agree more.

So, as we wrapped up our enjoyable meal, sipping our hot, frothy cappuccinos and nibbling on a tasty trio of flavored crème brulees, (tough assignment, huh?!) I couldn’t get my mind off the sexy, little sports car I eyeballed in the showroom below.  The sweet, new LFA…cherry red, of course, is a runnin’ machine.  Starting at $375,000, I don’t think husband, Tom would mind.  Do you? 

But, then again, he thought I was just going to lunch!


Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.