Update: This restaurant is now closed.
A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a preview event and have a complimentary meal at a new supper club/night club in Downtown San Diego called Airr Supper Club. I took Jake along as my usual date and off we went to seek this place out.
Since it was before the official opening of the restaurant, the place was unmarked. It still had the billing for an old hotel. We found out later that they weren’t planning on changing the outside until they were ready for a full opening so as to keep uninvited patrons out of the new digs. We were there on a Sunday evening and found out that the night before they had go-go dancers in the windows, attracting revelers from the street below, and that many people were trying to sneak in to check out the new restaurant.
Upon our arrival, we were taken through the fancy looking VIP room and into the “Red Room“.
The floor to ceiling “Red Room” is quite impressive to look at. Red floors, red ceiling, red walls, and long red benches. It’s very visually striking. There’s a bar in the middle against the far wall and the boxes in front of the windows are presumably where the go-go dancers will be to entice people to come up into the lounge.
We arrived a bit early before our reservation and ordered a couple of drinks from the bar.
Jake got “The Cobain” while I tried the “Muddy Waters”.
This is the “Muddy Waters”, which was a whiskey based drink. It tasted a bit watered down to me, I think I’m just used to mixing whiskey with a soda of some kind. I didn’t drink much of this until I switched to a “Johnny Cry Cry Cry” later during dinner. That drink was scotch based, but had a very strong ginger flavor attached to it. A bit too strong for my tastes actually – I ended up switching it out and just getting the house featured white wine instead. Oh well.
Shortly after we got our first drinks we were seated in the “White Room“.
The White Room and dining area has a few very long booths with long tables, all in white, to try to promote a “social dining experience”. We were seated at a table with a few other couples and told that the 6 of us would sharing the meals for that evening’s dinner. At the far end of the booth there were some other ladies that had already started eating and I tried to eye their food to get a feel for what we would be having that evening. The idea behind the dishes (which I did not find out until the end) is that the dishes are supposed to be communal/family sized dishes with extra food for sharing. They want you to share with other people at your table but this wasn’t really explained to us very well. Also, we did not get a choice in our meals, instead, we had a few dishes brought out to us for each course.
The first item we had was the Creamy Italian Burrata. I already knew that I loved burrata since I had it last year at TusCA in Orange County, CA. Burrata is a very creamy, mozzarella-like cheese with cream. It has a very rich, creamy taste and flavor. This version was served with roasted vine tomatoes and served with some thin, crunchy toast. It was served actually with only three pieces of toast, which kind of baffled us since there were six of us. We asked for more toast on the spot.
I personally was not into the roasted tomatoes. I don’t like it when tomatoes are squishy. Mostly I just spread some of the cheese on the toast and munched on that. I thought the burrata was nice and creamy with a hint of sweetness.
This was our next item, the Belgium Endive Salad which had a white balsamic vinaigrette, chives and a sunny side up egg. Since we were sharing, I took a small portion of this with a little bit of egg to eat onto my own plate. I wasn’t really into the sunny side up egg on top of my salad. I know this was sort of a twist on having hard boiled eggs on salads, but I much prefer the hard boiled approach. This dish didn’t do much for me taste wise since I also thought it was a little bland.
We had 2 main dishes to share between the six of us. This was one of them – the Sonoma County Duck Breast. This was served with boy choy underneath the meat along with some shittake mushrooms and toasted pistachio’s on top. The overall flavor I thought was good, but this was something I would not have ordered on my own. I was fine trying some of it but I thought other foods would be coming our way. The duck was tender and if you weren’t thinking about it, it was almost like having steak (that’s what Jake thought anyway and he’s not really into duck).
Our other main dish were these Seared Scallops. Again, we were confuzzled as to why there were only 5 scallops when there were six of us sharing the food together. We asked our waitress about that and she said she had to go ask the chef if it would be okay if we got more scallops. The scallops themselves were cooked nicely and slightly sweet, the way you expect scallops to be. The scallops also came with asparagus and spinach tucked underneath.
After we finished off the duck and the scallops, our waitress told us they would be bringing out another round of scallops. This took maybe 15 minutes to get back out to us and she came by to tell us there was a problem in the kitchen with them, which was why there was a bit of a wait. We finally got the 2nd helping of scallops to pass around among us and no other additional main dishes to try.
After we finished that off, we got dessert a short time later.
This is the Valrhona Chocolate Tasting. It came with three kind of chocolate, chopped up into pieces with a little dish of sea salt. It came with dark chocolate, hazelnut chocolate and orange chocolate. I was kind of in disbelief that this was considered a dessert. Chocolate is pretty tasty, but I was kind of expecting a little bit more. We were told to sprinkle a little of the sea salt on top of a piece of chocolate before eating it to enhance the flavor. I wasn’t really impressed.
Our other dessert was a selection of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pistachio Macaroons. This was served with a Chantilly whipped cream on the side. Again, why only a few cookies is beyond me. I already hadn’t eaten that much, I didn’t want to share my cookies! Again, I was really unimpressed with this dessert. I was really expecting something with a little more pizazz or a bit more elegance. The chocolate chip cookies were not too bad. No one really seemed to dig the pistachio macaroons, I just thought they were okay.
At the end of the dinner we discovered what other couples were sharing for their meals and were a bit saddened that we didn’t get to try the other dishes, such as T-Bone steak and Roasted Rack of Lamb. Our waitress told us at the end that we were supposed to share with everyone at our entire table, which wasn’t really explained to us very well. We didn’t share our dishes with the other guests at the end of the table and neither did they, we all just figured we got what we got and that was it. This kind of soured my experience and impression of the place. I felt that if they really wanted us to experience all the restaurant had to offer, we would have tried more dishes or had this concept a bit more clearly explained to us. If I were dining here with a few of my friends, I wouldn’t really want to share my food with other people sitting next to me since I would be the one footing the bill.
The prices here are also quite high, what with it being a Downtown location and shared dishes. Even though I didn’t pay for the meal, I was a bit shocked when I saw the menu with the prices. I felt that the prices are a reflection of the atmosphere and location more than a value for the food itself. I’m not much for going Downtown to experience the nightlife, it’s not really my kind of thing, but I do have to say that Airr is a very, very pretty restaurant and lounge. I don’t think I’d want to pay the high prices just to dine here, but if that’s your thing then you’ll probably dig this. I was torn about even writing this review but in the end I thought I’d just throw in my two cents for anyone that was interested in another point of view on this restaurant.
Airr Supper Club & Night Club
526 Market Street, San Diego, CA 92101
6pm to 12am Wednesday and Sunday
6pm to 2am Thursday through Saturday