How long has it been since you’ve savored Napa? How about tonight—and wherever you live in Southern California, you can be there in an hour or two. We recently enjoyed a scrumptious Napa getaway at Eddie V’s in the newly renovated Headquarters at Seaport Village in San Diego, where they have had a special going on most of the summer called “Napa Nights.” For $49, you can enjoy filet mignon topped with shrimp scampi along with a choice from three exquisite Napa wines.
Eddie V’s in San Diego, which is one of 15 restaurants throughout the country in the same group, opened in March of this year.
It was a hot summer night so we chose to sit inside, although there is a lovely outdoor patio. When we were seated on comfy banquettes in the main dining room at about 6 p.m., the Ray Briz Jazz Trio was already swinging in the adjacent V Lounge. We learned that Eddie’s has live jazz every night. (Next time we’ll plan a drink in the lounge before dinner.) The decor was stylish and upscale with soft lighting that all worked together to create a relaxing, luxurious atmosphere.
Although we came for Napa Nights, we perused the extensive menu with its fresh seafood focus. There were so many tempting menu items that we knew we had to return to try some of them. Every night there is a Market Fresh Fish option featuring a fish of the day, which is simply broiled with lemon, olive oil and sea salt. Other enticing items included Swordfish topped with fresh lump crab, avocado, cilantro and red chili and also Pacific Ahi Tuna seared with Asian pear, mango, avocado and roasted cashews. There are also a variety of premium, hand-cut steaks available.
Before embarking on our meals, we relished the atmosphere and talked to several members of the staff while we sipped perfectly chilled martinis with blue cheese stuffed olives. Our waiter, Todd Neeter, was just the way a waiter should be—helpful, well-informed about the menu, cheerful but not intrusive. We met the friendly and gracious manager on duty that night, Justin O’Brien, who told us a bit about the philosophy of Eddie V’s, which is to serve fresh, innovative dishes in relaxing, pleasant surroundings.
We were also pleased to talk with Sous Chef, Cynthia Monroy, who said the restaurant’s menus are mainly developed by the group’s corporate culinary director, John Carver. However, she pointed out that each restaurant has the freedom to develop its own variations based on seasonal ingredients available in each locale. Cynthia was experienced, passionate about the food she was preparing, and very busy on a Wednesday night with lots of hungry guests. We look forward to meeting Eddie V’s Executive Chef, Brian Moran, on a future visit. It’s obvious that he has put together a great team. Everyone else we encountered on the staff at Eddie V’s was enthusiastic and welcoming. A good staff can make such a difference in a successful restaurant experience, but, of course, the food also has to be outstanding and we were not disappointed.
With our cocktails, we enjoyed warm bread and butter. We then ordered a well-made Caesar salad that was plenty large enough to share. The Caesar dressing was classic but light with bits of anchovy over the dark green Gem lettuce (instead of traditional Romaine), which was crunchy and flavorful. Homemade croutons and shaved Parmesan set off this salad—one of the best Caesars we’ve had in a long time.
And then it was time for the Napa Nights special. The hand-cut filet, presented in nice thick slices, was perfectly medium rare (as we had ordered it) and tender, but its crispy crust made it really special. We learned that it had been simply seasoned with Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, but it was the searing under Eddie V’s high temperature, radiant broiler that sealed in the flavors and created the wonderful seared crust. The steak was topped with several large, beautiful shrimp that had been simmered scampi style in garlic, tomatoes, chili flakes, butter and white wine. Steamed asparagus accompanied the entrée, but we also ordered delicious side dishes of blanched Brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots, and a twice-baked potato with bacon and chives.
We had a choice of three featured Napa wines: a 2012 Cakebread Chardonnay, a 2011 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon or a 2012 ZD Pinot Noir. I chose the Chardonnay because I thought it might be a nice match with the shrimp, but I was surprised that it was rich enough to hold its own with the filet too. There was a subtle oak flavor, but mostly I tasted crisp, green apple and citrus with lemon and lime overtones. My husband chose the Cabernet, which he described as bold, distinctive, and full of berry tastes with a nice smooth finish. We felt that these wines were excellent when paired with our filet and shrimp dinners.
After eating, we were so full that we even had a piece of filet boxed up to take home, so at first we resisted when our waiter suggested dessert, but, being easily tempted, we thought we should at least learn what they had to offer. There were several appealing dessert options, but when Todd (our waiter) mentioned Bananas Foster we knew we had to succumb. This dessert was served flambé at the table with a hot caramel rum sauce over luscious bananas, Niederfranks ice cream, and a rich flavorful cake. I once had Bananas Foster at Brennan’s in New Orleans where this famous dessert originated and Eddie V’s rendition was definitely just as good, maybe even better.
After dinner, we enjoyed walking around the Headquarters, which was originally constructed in 1939, in the classical Mediterranean Revival and Pueblo architectural styles typical of Southern California. At the time, the building complex was the largest police headquarters in the country and included a small jail, a shooting range and courtrooms. In 1987, the Headquarters closed and in 1988 the complex was put on the National Registry of Historic Places, but it wasn’t until last fall that the complex was turned into an appealing shopping and dining destination with a variety of enticing restaurants and specialty boutiques. You can even tour the original jail cell area (but be careful or you might get locked up).
You can obviously make a night of it at the Headquarters and walking around might be a good idea after eating at Eddie V’s. Napa Nights continues through August 31st. Reservations are recommended. Call 866-218-8514 or make reservations through Open Table.