*The following review is a guest post written by Spy Mom Syndicate Reviewer – Jen H. She and her husband are the parents of two little boys, and they live in San Diego, CA. Jen started her blog, Not Just Another Jen, as a way to process becoming a Stay-at-Home-Mom after being laid off from her job. Her mission in posting as a Spy Mom affiliate is to find a great place for date night in North San Diego County that won’t break the bank and will be memorable for both her and her husband.
LOCATION: Carlsbad, CA
DATE OF SERVICE: May 14, 2010
Miracles do happen! Husband’s birthday was last week and to celebrate we went out on a Friday night (hear the angels singing)? I wore a black dress and heels (hallelujah!), and we weren’t interrupted by little people once (Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halle. Lu. Jah)!
Beforehand, I scoped out the latest cool place in our area by asking a single, childless friend, because she would be the one in the know, not us parental types with little ones. Turns out that there’s a new swanky restaurant and wine bar in Carlsbad on Carlsbad Village Dr. at Roosevelt called Paon. That could be a cute area for a nice restaurant. Sure, I’d love to say that I’ve been to a local posh eatery. I like to think that I can get outside of my circle of parks, library, frozen yogurt shop, grocery store and Target.
I looked up the restaurant online and the site looked good and said all the right things – California cuisine with a French influence, elegant and intimate dining, locally grown organic produce and organic meats, blah, blah, blah and exceptional experience…wow, this better be good. I’ve felt that many places in the San Diego area have big talk, but don’t always deliver. Look, I’ve got high standards. I used to live in San Francisco. I got really spoiled living there – we had that great lifestyle where we ate out often and food everywhere was so good. Nowadays, if we’re going out and spending money, hell if I’m wearing a dress, then this better be a memorable dining experience! “We’re going out, OH PLEASE be good!”
Well, Paon does not falter on the looks or service. It has a beautiful patio, large bar with good seating, nice location, and inside is very classy. The service was excellent, efficient and we did not feel rushed (one of my biggest pet peeves). The host (who happened to be Managing Partner, Steve Barr), was generous, kind and funny. I’m so picky when it comes to white wine that after describing what I like (Husband said I already sounded drunk since I didn’t call the wine by the right name), Steve poured me a glass and I didn’t like it, so I sent it back. <cringe> He suggested another one and it was a great match for me (Fallbrook Winery, Sauvignon Blanc).
You know when you go to a restaurant and the portions are fancy and small? Well, that was not the case here. Paon’s appetizers were well-portioned. I had a too large beet and greens salad ($10) and Husband had the Smoked Chicken Ravioli ($13). Four homemade ravioli came in his serving. Thank goodness Husband can put away the food, because that looked like a full meal to me!
Here’s where Paon started to waver. I had the Scallops with an Organic Vegetable and Lobster Ragout and Puree Potatoes ($32, not the same price as online). I found the scallops salty (too much seasoning), but the ragout with lobster was incredible. Husband scarfed his rib eye steak ($24); it’s a wonder that man ever tastes his food. It’s gone before I finish my third bite. However, he said it was “good, not great.” He never gets excited over food so take his comment with a grain of salt (sts).
With a few drinks, our total including tip ended up being $128. Paon’s nice, but it’s not that nice. It is in old Carlsbad by the train tracks. You have to walk a couple of blocks to get to the beach. It’s not La Jolla. That’s a lot of money for us. We don’t go out that often because it’s simply too expensive. We only go out if my BFF Lola can watch the kids (she’s free). Yes, it was a special occasion, so really I don’t mind spending the money, but the sad thing is that it’s too expensive for us to go back and try it again. I think for that money, we’d rather hit up one of the restaurants on the water in Solana Beach or Del Mar (even if his parents were visiting and they were paying). We’ve both heard things about the bar-lounge: mixed comments on the drinks, but excellent on the food. So that’s a possibility and really the only way that we’d go back.
FINAL VERDICT: We won’t (likely) go back to the restaurant, but would like to try the bar-lounge.
HELPFUL INFO FOR FIRST TIME DINERS AT PAON:
-Not a regular date place, but great for special occasions
-California cuisine, locally grown organic goodness
-Good wine & beer menu
-$$$ out of 4
*Are you interested in doing a guest review of a restaurant, hotel, or other venue in your area? I’m looking for other Spy Moms from all over the country to help me out! Please email me directly if you are interested at thespymom(at)gmail(dot)com.
Disclosure: Jen H. was not compensated in any way to conduct this review by Paon or by The Spy Mom. All opinions expressed in this post are purely her own and were not influenced by any outside source. If you have any questions about Paon, please contact the restaurant directly. If you have any questions about this guest review, you can email The Spy Mom at thespymom(at)gmail(dot)com.