I am convinced that my friend Mary is my sister from the same mother. I was adopted, so it could be true. Her mother swears it isn’t, with such vehemence that I am a little bit insulted. For sure she is my sista’ friend because we could not be more similar if we tried. From our opinions on professional sports and the players, parenting (she’s a mom, I am not), fiscal responsibility, the kinds of friends we each have and attract and what we like to do it’s like we are carbon copies. I am about a foot and a half taller than her though. She was delighted to discover the phrase Person McNugget last year!
So, when we were headed downtown to San Diego on a Monday night for an event and needed somewhere for Happy Hour, I knew we would find somewhere we could agree on without a problem. I did leave it up to Mary, excellent researcher that she is and within minutes she was suggesting Encore, Champagne Bar and Dining Room. It was a couple blocks from our event and just happened to have my very favorite vice of all as its central theme! Champagne! Mary is brilliant, did I mention we are EXACTLY the same?
We parked and walked and spotted the place from across the street. We could see inside the big windows that it is very stylish. Mostly white with beautifully tufted, upholstered seating, black architectural accents, intricate opalescent tile and the only spots of color are the most stunning, audacious turquoise blue chandeliers you could find! So glam, and so perfect. The staff are all equally beautiful and welcoming as could be. We were there early, so we had the place to ourselves for a while. We perched elegantly at the bar (Mary did anyway…I sort of plopped down) and really got the opportunity to chat with Brandy the bartender. Moises, another of the handsome staff took our picture for us. Scott, the other bartender (they must hire from a modeling agency) for the evening and bar manager other evenings chatted with us and introduced us to an all chardonnay grape Champagne. Spoiled rotten we were!
So we have established that the atmosphere, décor and eye candy are definitely approved by Mary and Dianne. On to other important details. Happy Hour Menu! They had a white wine, a red wine, a champagne, a bellini and I don’t remember what else on the drink menu. We opted for the champagne and that night it was Piper Sonoma for $6 per glass. Approved! We began to approve of everything else even more with champagne on board, such is the magic of the bubbles. They had a nice selection of salads and little plates at half price for happy hour as well. The beef carpaccio with tangerine (tangerine? Who thinks of that? Kudos Chef!) and the rustic salad with beets and pistachio were especially yummy. Scott told us that the chef does like to combine unexpected flavors for surprising but complimentary effect. Not your typical happy hour food to be sure, the plates were not very mini, and everything went great with the champagne of course.
People began to trickle in as we enjoyed ourselves. A mixture of folks to be sure. A group of men dressed in jeans and workboots that gravitated towards the extensive collection of beertaps on the other side of the bar. Scott greeted them by name so they had clearly discovered the magic of Encore and were fans. By the way they enjoyed the beer selection, Brandy the bartender is not the only worthy attraction for them here. Young ladies were meeting after work, ordering the wine and champagne, occupying the reserved tables surrounding the bar with their luxuriously tufted upholstery. Some hipsters opted for the sofas and coffee table by the window to enjoy their cocktails and there were even a couple oldie but goodies like ourselves. One nicely dressed man came in a bit unsteadily, engaged us in somewhat loud but friendly conversation and was deftly and discretely handled by Scott as he recognized he was too intoxicated for 5 in the afternoon and needed to go sleep it off somewhere safe. Impressive. It was obvious that many of the people that came in were repeat customers if not downright regulars, and I can certainly see why. All were greeted warmly, repeat visitors were made to feel they were recognized and Mary and I were by now wondering if we could find a company downtown that would like to hire us both and rent us a suite to use when we needed to stay downtown instead of commute back to North County during the week. Something REALLY close to Encore! Brandy told us that the weekends are very busy and as the evening wears on the bar gets more of a nightclub vibe. They are open until 1:30 am.
We peeked in on the restroom and the dining room. The restroom was totally glammed out too, of course. A unisex with shared sink area and private stalls with men on one side, women on the other. It has a hint of daring but is actually very conventional. Sexy! Cool lighting, even in the roomy stalls. The dining room continues the modern, cosmopolitan feel of the bar and has a counter where you can sit to eat and look into the kitchen. Scott told us that on nights where the chef is not too busy he will pause and chat with diners at the counter. Definitely coming back with the hubby for dinner, plus we peeked at the dinner menu and it looks wonderful!
A lovely young woman named Amber came in as we were getting ready to go. She said that she had been in the night before and a band that was playing over at House of Blues came in. They sat at the bar, ordered all of the bar food on the menu, shared it with her and they ended up chatting and drinking together. She went with them over to their concert and I guess had a great night partying like a rock star. So, apparently, you never know what will happen when you stop in at Encore. Mary and I will just have to keep going and find out! That’s what sisters do for each other.