social experiment bar + kitchen
530 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103Neighborhood:
AmericanPrice: $30 and under
social experiment bar + kitchen
- Dining Style: Casual Elegant
- Website: http://blueribbonrustickitchen.com/
- Phone: 6195016795
- Hours of Operation:
Tuesday - Sunday: 5:00pm - 12:00am
- Payment Options:
- Cuisine: American, Italian, French
- Executive Chef: Marlaw Seraspi
- Dress Code: Business Casual
- Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
A word from social experiment bar + kitchen
We have great atmosphere, a full bar, amazing food and can’t wait to see you!Continued
Foodspotting photosSee all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
- Diners' Choice WinnerFit for Foodies
social experiment bar + kitchen - Best Restaurants in Hillcrest ›
social experiment bar + kitchen reviews from OpenTable diners
29 reviews since May 25, 2014
- Ambiance3.8Noise LevelModerate
fit for foodies (15)neighborhood gem (11)vibrant bar scene (9)good for groups (6)late-night find (6)kid-friendly (3)romantic (3)special occasion (2)great for brunch (1)hot spot (1)notable wine list (1)Show More
- Food disappointingRoseVIPDined on 8/28/2014I really wanted to like this restaurant, it is 2 blocks away from my condo. Sadly half of the food wasn't edible. The crudo was so fishy that after a small bite I desperately wanted to take the taste out of my tongue. The octopus was mushy. The restaurant was not even half fool so I honestly think the ingredients were just old. The duck flat bread was pretty good, and the arugula salad, even-though a bit over dressed, it was pretty decent. At the end of our meal my husband was giving his last sip to his Negroni when we realized 3 flies inside it! I can't believe their poor quality control, who serves stinking fish, old octopus and a Negroni with not one but 3 flies? Very disappointed, but avoided telling the server and ruining date night.Special Features:
- Flavorlessly Disappointing!wgtiiiVIPDined on 8/23/2014Unfortunately, I was unhappy with this place. Firstly, my intention was to dine at Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen but discovered the name change and menu change just before making the reservation. I'm thinking the change in name and menu were a bad idea. Secondly, I'm usually a little cautious with signature drinks that have muddled ingredients because not many bartenders are good at creating drink recipes using them. I had the Georgia Peach and it was flavorless. Flavorless is the adjective of the night; the zucchini fries tasted like oil and should be tossed with salt, the diver scallops were overpowered by the potatoe cake underneath, and the wild shrimp were tough and besides the sauce, which was great they were better servicing the ocean.Special Features:
- OpenTable Diner Since 2014Dined on 8/9/2014so loud you couldn't talk. food good but portions small for the price. servers attentive and pleasant. won't return
- Family DinnerSaraDined on 8/9/2014Going in, we were unsure how kid friendly the restaurant would be. Our table was ready per our request (with a highchair) when we arrived. The staff was great and we all really enjoyed the food (especially the popcorn). It was the first time (in a very long time) where the kids behaved through the entire dinner.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Great food and great serviceAgm33Dined on 8/3/2014We went there on a double date and sat at a large comfortable table. Noise level was perfect for talking and getting to know eachother. The waiters were so friendly and recommended excellent dishes! The food was very well portioned and tasted amazing. Kept on ordering more as the night went on!Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- this place is awesome!LindsayKatherineDined on 8/3/2014The Social Experiment Bar + Kitchen does not disappoint! New American cuisine that really is new! So many places are doing the same things, its getting boring, but this place had an edge to it. We had the deep fried brussel sprouts, charred local octopus, short ribs ravioli, and the pork belly. Everything was divine! and the plating was beautiful! I could tell that the chef has INTEGRITY, that he cares a lot and there is so much attention to detail, not to mention the staff was super friendly and attentive. Also, i must say that the prices are right, and everything is portioned just right for sharing. We are definitely going to tell all our friends and go back sometime soon to try more of the menu.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- ughOpenTable Diner Since 2014Dined on 7/19/2014my second time here, and was an awful experience- which is really disappointing!!! I don't know if it has anything to do with the name change, but I'm at least glad that the menu didn't change much. the food was greasier than I remember, and the portions were way smaller than I recall. It was so loud in there that we had to yell to hear each other, and there was a girl next to us who wouldn't stop crying and applying makeup. We had friends from out of town and the whole experience was pretty freaky and I don't think they'll take recommendations from me in the future.Special Features:
- Service was awfulOpenTable Diner Since 2007Dined on 7/3/2014Our server was so bad that he ruined the entire meal. He had a big top that was there having drinks and apps and he was too busy taking shots with them to pay any attention to us. The food was good, but I don't know how this place will last with that kind of service.
- Great food and service.OpenTable Diner Since 2012Dined on 6/30/2014Many taste sensations. The drinks or specialty cocktails are a flavorful and potent starter to dinner. Service awesome though he was serious he attended needs with out asking. Very nice experience will be back.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Food looks better than it tastesFoodiefanaticDined on 6/15/2014I was extremely disappointed and wanted it to be a great place, but it was very salty! Everything was salty! The food looked much better than it tasted.
- Nice supriseLilRedFishVIPDined on 5/28/2014We initially walked in to a bar playing Reggae, smelled great so we stayed. Glad we did, the food was fantastic! The crew running it were great! The music was a good level, the acoustics were good, granted it wasnt packed when we were there.Special Features:
- Don't like fusionPwilliams81Dined on 5/25/2014I'm not a fan of fusion. If you like fusion, I'm sure you will like this place. The pasta was fresh, and the fried Brussels sprouts were amazing. But if I order pasta I expect it to be Italian not Korean. I'm not a fan of fusion.I would recommend this to a friend.
- Sat. Night dinner w J aft WA movieAndy123VIPDined on 5/24/2014Sister rest to the orig Blue Ribbon in Encinitas. More along the lines of Craftsman than Blue Ribbon, Encinitas. Fun mend, great service, enjoyed wine w staff and they waived the corkage. Nice touch.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Solid choice!KevinDined on 5/24/2014I had the short ribs and frites and my wife had an heirloom tomato salad. Both were very good. The short ribs needed a little salt but were cooked well. The Manhattan was solid. The hostess commented that the corner table was her favorite - a nice start. The only downside as far as ambience is the bus stop being right at the front door, so you have that noise every 2 or 3 minutes, or so it seemed. Nice wait staff.Special Features:
- The following 75 reviews are from the social experiment bar + kitchen reviews archive.
- Wonderful foodOpenTable Diner Since 2012Dined on 5/11/2014Lots of places to choose from on University so my wife and I (in our 50s) chose Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen based on a recommendation from our B&B. Really pleased with the choice -- very hard to decide from the many delightful selections on the menu. Fresh, healthy, and different seemed to be the theme. Yellowfin Tuna as a starter was awesome. The Caesar Salad was the best I've ever had -- no heavy dressing, garlic breadcrumbs rather than croutons, delightful. The pasta dishes are delightful. Very decent draft beer and wine list. Attentive Service.Special Features:
- great happy hour!cellaDined on 5/11/2014Loved happy hour items and the only day they dont have haapy hour is Saturday. Food was excellent and drinks were yummy!Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Great Place All Around!jen513Dined on 5/10/2014The service was wonderful. The drinks were awesome and the food looked good. It has a nice vibe inside. The lighting is perfect and the music is awesome. The music volume was just right. Not too loud. Would come back for sure! Oh, and I love how you can make reservations online!Special Features:
- Great DinnersmokeyjoeDined on 5/10/2014Took my wife, her friend, and two female teens to dinner before Mother's Day. Service and meal were great. We had a nice big booth and were able to take our time and enjoy ourselves.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Good drinking spot....mtimoteoVIPDined on 5/7/2014But not a great place to eat. They have a nice selection of items on the menu, but nothing worth writing home about. We the zucchini fries as an appetizer and all you could taste was grease. Same went for the brussel sprout. The duck confit with gnocchi came out with drips of sauce, leaving me to eat very dried up pieces of pasta; not very appealing. I think the worst part about the dining experience there is the noise level. It is extremely loud. Being that they are first a bar, the music is piped in very loud. We were there early on an empty night, and it felt way too loud for the empty place. I would also suggest it not being so dark as I noticed along with our table, several other tables pulling out cell phones to read the menu.
- Mixedsf415Dined on 5/3/2014Some dishes were great and others were over or undercooked. My friend's pasta was very overcooked and my friend's fish en papillotte was undercooked. Disappointing given my first meal there was great!
- Nice ambiance, good food, high costConBuonGustoDined on 4/27/2014Blue Ribbon has a welcoming interior and an attractive menu; wine list is solid (good, not amazing), and there's a very nice selection of scotch. The food is beautifully presented, and fresh, farm-to-table, etc---but the flavors are not as balanced or nuanced as I would expect for the price point. For example, the Albacore crudo appetizer looks beautiful and should taste delicious, but ends up overwhelmed by the grapefruit and avocado... the beef ravioli had lovely micro-greens on top, but the sauce was so strongly sweet that it was all I could really taste (a delicious flavor, but why include so many other ingredients if their fate is to fade?); the scallops on corn cakes were the best dish we ordered, and tasted great.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- viviDined on 4/19/2014Excellent dining all around....great food, great friendly service, best butterscotch pudding in the world!...my only slight complaint is the lighting...a bit dark...highly recommend....Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- zelliDined on 4/17/2014Amazing date spot. Great food- the fried brussel sprouts, calamari and the sea bass were delicious. We will definitely be back for dinner, and look forward to trying the early and reverse happy hours!Special Features:
- awesome date scenealecDined on 4/16/2014Had a blast at the blue ribbon. Food was amazing, beer list was spectacular, and the service was impeccable. Very friendly, cozy joint that I highly recommend.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Hipster HooplaPastaVinoVIPDined on 4/4/2014Someone on another blog wrote that this place was better than Cucina Urbana, so we had to check it out. Unfortunately, as a couple in our late 40s, we were hopelessly out of place in a sea of hipsters. When we arrived on time for our reservation, the sullen hostess made us wait at the bar for 10 minutes while she continued to seat other people, telling us that our table would be ready soon. Eventually she sat us at a table that had been ready all along, and we were then served by a waiter who talked to us as though we were infants. We ordered zucchini sticks, pappardelle with lamb sausage, the diver scallops, and roast chicken. All of the food was heavy, oily, and underseasoned. We couldn't we couldn't finish any of it. Won't return.
- Small door leads to a great diningSD4BrianVIPDined on 3/22/2014Great environment and food defies the exterior that doesn't match the surprise inside---highly suggest you give this Hillcrest rest a try. Servers are quite friendly and very service orientedSpecial Features:
- The staff is the problem hereOpenTable Diner Since 2009Dined on 3/22/2014The staff here is basically void of any personality or warmth. As the saying goes, sh*t rolls down hill. And in a resturant owned by the chef that's not a great sign for the food... Bad lighting doesn't help the poor treatment at the door or the poor wait service either.
- Delightful addition to Hillcrest'sTallorVIPDined on 3/22/2014Delightful addition to Hillcrest's dining scene. The Ceasar salad was wonderful (enough to share), and the butterscotch pudding is not to be missedSpecial Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- excellent foodOpenTable Diner Since 2011Dined on 3/8/2014Exciting diverse menu, everything so tasty. Short ribs yummy. Linguini w clams & bacon rich -- so oily & greasy we couldn't finish it.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Let's Go AgainOpenTable Diner Since 2005Dined on 3/4/2014Got to the resaurant early enough for Happy Hour Specials (which were plentiful). It was Mardi Gras evening so the crowd was smallish. Food was great. A for sure "return to" spot.Special Features:
- LabelingJLLLDined on 2/28/2014The food is lovely, but there is a disconnect between the details provided on the menu and what appears on your plate. For example, the zucchini fries are breaded, which is not part of the menu description. The salmon entree includes potatoes and tomatoes, also not listed on the menu. As someone seeking to avoid all grains and nightshade vegetables (including potatoes and tomatoes), this was an unfortunate surprise. Learn from my mistakes and ask for further details prior to ordering if you also have dietary restrictions.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Tasty with a Bit of IrritationOpenTable Diner Since 2013Dined on 2/26/2014I have endless raves about the food. The farm fresh taste is the one to beat/ I cannot begin to tell you about the delicious homemade pasta. AMAZING! The only thing keeping this restaurant from perfection was the service. For most of the mean our waiter was missing in action and we had to literally go find someone to take out next course order or get our bill. For a restaurant as tiny as this one, you think the service would be much better. You can see every table when standing in the corer of the room so there is no excuse for not having spectacular service.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- I love this place!!!SDLocalDined on 2/23/2014Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen is a great spot to enjoy a romantic dinner or a night out with friends. The food is outstanding.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- The food was decent and beautifullyOpenTable Diner Since 2012Dined on 2/19/2014The food was decent and beautifully presented, but definitely overpriced. The atmosphere is very chic, but the layout makes it hard to have a conversation due to noise from other tables even at half capacity.
- rustically romanticyummyinmytummyDined on 2/15/2014This was a great neighborhood find! Loved the wine selection, food and ambiance. Also, it was refreshing to discover a fantastic late night happy hour menu. The only negative was the service. Our server was nice, but BEYOND OVERLY ATTENTIVE. I used to be a server/bartender and even then I felt like our server was more of the "helicopter server" type. He kept asking us how we were doing and if we needed anything, which is fine, but he did so like every 5 minutes! No exaggeration. I enjoyed my dinner nonetheless, but it would have been more ideal if we were able to enjoy our night out in relative peace. I don't think all servers at this place operate in the same manner that he does though.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Great little GemKarinDined on 2/14/2014My Husband and I went early (5pm) for Valentines day and it was just wonderful. Cute place, friendly and engaging staff and the food was wonderful. Try the Albacore appetizer and scallops you won't be disappointed.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Great service and vibe!khansonVIPDined on 2/4/2014The food was good, a tad salty, but good. Service was fantastic and it is a place I can't wait to return to.Special Features:
- Great FoodJojoDined on 1/31/2014The food was fantastic. The only down side was that we had a reservation for 7:45, we were not seated until almost 8:30! Other than that, a little pricey, $9.50 for a cocktail, but happy hour is spectacular.Special Features:
- Great service. Great food!RoseyDined on 1/26/2014First time dining with Rustic cafe. Would recommend to friends and family.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.
- Craving the scallopsrox59Dined on 1/25/2014We picked Blue Ribbon as a place to reconnect with a couple of friends after some time apart. Unfortunately, one of them fell ill but we decided to keep the reservation. They've made great use of a not too large space in Hillcrest and offer a great selection of food. We tried the Diver Scallops and the Loch Duart Salmon and are still discussing which was best. I know I'll be craving the scallops for a long time and will be looking forward to a return trip to dig into some of the other offerings. And DON'T miss the butterscotch pudding. Our waiter offered to fetch a spatula so we could get the last bits out of the jar and we seriously pondered the idea! Nice craft beer and wine selection and the staff was superb.Special Features:I would recommend this to a friend.