Lamont Street Grill – Smart Local Dining

| July 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

Many restaurants in our city advertise extensively to attract tourists and locals to their tables. One must wonder how small, local eateries can compete, how they can stay in business. Indeed, many don’t stay in business. The failure rate of small, undercapitalized restaurants is extremely high.

But there are some small restaurants that keep on going, year after year, supported by a loyal clientele. It is a tribute to their cuisine and ambiance the diners return often and bring their friends. These restaurants make it on word of mouth, people who tell people who tell people. That’s usually the best kind of “advertising” a restaurant can receive.

One very good small restaurant that exactly fits this description is the Lamont Street Grill, located in Pacific Beach.  Located on a convenient street between Garnet Avenue and Grand Avenue, it has delighted generations of happy customers for over 26 years.

Owner and chef Robert Manrul has been working around food since he was 15. Growing up in Chicago, he learned his skills “on the job.” He was working as the chef for the prior owner of the restaurant, who decided to sell. Manrul took the plunge and bought in.  He has since devoted his life to finding new ways to please his diners. He runs the restaurant with his wife, Kelly Rucker.

His cooking style is eclectic but he focuses on fresh ingredients, working to bring out and combine flavors that play on the palate. He changes his menu every 4-6 months but will keep on the menu dishes that customers enjoy.

The restaurant is relatively small, occupying a ‘40s style house, with a little bit of parking on the side. Only dinner is served and, during evenings, candles on tables cast a warm glow that can make a meal very romantic.

There is also a small and intimate outdoor patio, where one can dine under the boughs of a lovely tree. Service throughout is attentive. When I attended, our server Erin was very knowledgeable about both the menu and possible wine pairings. She even brought out small samples of wines she suggested, to make sure that we were pleased with our final selection.

The menu, being eclectic, has something that is bound to delight. It is a la carte, so “sides” are additional. But, overall, prices are very moderate, easy on the wallet. Appetizers include spicy chicken wontons with jalapeno cream, combining Asian and Mexican ideas, as well as pesto & gorgonzola flatbread pizza, showing Italian influence. The house salad, combining butter lettuce, tomato, walnuts and blue cheese, was a nice way to begin.

As entrees, the penne with parmesan shrimp and pesto was very satisfying. Baked salmon with Greek topping was a real hit at the table. Potato chip chicken with seasoned sour cream and chives over pasta was very different and tasty. The topping gave the chicken real crunch. BBQ pork baby back ribs was a large portion and very meaty. The sauce gave it great flavor without overpowering, as some restaurants tend to do.

My experience was very positive. I understood quickly why the restaurant was successful as a neighborhood eatery, without expending revenue on promotion. Diners come back for the great food, delightful setting and moderate prices. Taste and value lead to satisfied customers.

The Lamont Street Grill is located at 4445 Lamont Street. Call 858-270-3060 for information and reservations. Because of its limited seating, reservations are recommended.

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Category: Entertainment

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