Vibe and Victuals at Vintana Restaurant
Cohn Restaurant Group has done it again. The award-winning
company, which now owns and operates 16 restaurants within the
San Diego area and Maui, has hit a home run with one of its
newer North County venues: Vintana. This eatery,
uniquely located on the penthouse level of the Lexus luxury
car dealership in Escondido, melds the best of fine California
modern dining, hospitality, and atmosphere for an experience
that'll make you want to return again and again.
such a curious and unexpected location, the restaurant's General
Manager Greg Provance is questioned about it often. Regarding
the site, he remarks, "It is the brainchild of Judy Jones
Cone who owns Lexus of Escondido and Lexus/Toyota Carlsbad.
She had always envisioned a center with Lexus at the heart of
it where people could come and have a multi-sensory experience.
We were pleased to become a part of the vision. It's the total
experience. From cars to events to the upcoming retail options,
there is so much going on under one roof!"
bright and spacious restaurant boasts no less than 10,000 square
feet of indoor restaurant space that can accommodate up to 200
guests for lunch or dinner service and an additional 8,500 square
feet of contemporary meeting and banquet space. Its striking
interior includes spectacular 17-foot high windows that let
in copious amounts of sunlight and provide views of the mountains
that surround by day and glistening lights from vehicles and
valley vistas by night.
restaurant's adjacent uber-chic V2L2 Lounge and Lanai has abundant
indoor and outdoor terrace seating, plush couches, fire pits
and private cabanas reminiscent of a California beach club.
Very popular is the lounge's "Social Hour" from 2:30pm
to 6:30pm daily where patrons partake in premium food and drink
specials. The beverage program here offers no less than 125
types of drink selections from around the world, including San
Diego's craft beer makers. Vintana also features two additional
10,000 square foot outdoor terraces used for large private events
and serves as the location for a regular open-air concert series
hosted by the restaurant.
asked about his personal favorite aspect of the restaurant,
Provance noted, "It's our commitment to REAL Southern Hospitality."
To this I can attest having recently visited the locale for
dinner service. The staff was warm, sweet, and welcoming at
all levels-from the hostesses and the server staff to the affable
manager who dropped by multiple times to ensure all of our party's
epicurean expectations were being met.
lauded Executive Chef Deborah Scott at the helm, much of Vintana's
bill of fare features Scott's signature use of fresh ingredients
and bold flavors. From the "Starter" selections, my
party opted for the Oysters on the Half Shell ($3 each), which
were moist and plump, tasting as if they had just been harvested.
Other starters we sampled included the Poblano Chicken Empanadas
($12) with mango salsa and a decidedly authentic red curry sauce;
brightly flavored Crispy (Tempura) Artichokes ($12) accompanied
by a lemon caper aioli for dipping; and, my favorite, an ample
basket of Pacific Rock Shrimp & Sweet Corn Fritters ($9)
with spiced maple and a honey-bacon crème fraiche that
perfectly balanced out the savory components.
the "Soup & Salad" section, we enjoyed the White
Bean & Arugula Salad with rosemary, pancetta, shaved pecorino,
roasted fennel, red onion, tomato and lemon oil with a balsamic
reduction and bacon toast ($11); as well as Vintana's Soup Trio
($9)-single serving cup portions of each the rich and creamy
lobster bisque, the velvety and addicting tomato sage bisque,
and the soup du jour-that day a hearty and perfectly seasoned
chicken and rice.
party's "Entrée" selections were the Lobster
Milanese ($34) served atop a preserved lemon-caper beurre blanc
and accompanied by grilled asparagus and Yukon potatoes; and
the Charbroiled Rack of Lamb ($42) with honey roasted garlic
and hoisin-adobo marinade and served with bok choy and crispy
miso eggplant and a honey-ginger reduction. Other entrée
notables on the menu include the Macadamia and Coconut Crusted
Sea Bass ($28) with crispy sea beans, roasted pineapple salsa,
mashed sweet potato with lime and a ginger-lime beurre blanc;
and the Bruleed Pork Porterhouse ($29) with fig jam, pan roasted
pork belly, Brussels sprouts and sweet potato hash with a prosciutto
the side, I opted for the Pomegranate-Molasses Brussels Sprouts
($8) with black pepper bacon, golden raisins, and raspberry
vinegar that was kicked up a notch with orange zest. For dessert,
my choice was Vintana's peach and blueberry cobbler topped with
house made ice cream. Southern hospitality indeed.
all of this culinary ingenuity, it's no surprise Vintana has
already become a favorite with the celebrity-set. Provence said,
"We've had a number of celebrities here, including some
famous golfers who live here in San Diego. Plus, Chaka Kahn,
Al Jereau, Carl Verhean of Supertramp and Spiro Gyra have all
played on our rooftop for our outdoor concert series."
Despite its popularity, the restaurant team has some definitive
plans for its future. Provance notes, "For the short term,
we want to keep the locals happy and introduce ourselves to
more and more new guests. In the long term, our plans include
developing more entertainment and unique parties, events, and
promotions that will continue to set us apart. Listening to
our audience is also huge, and we try to always offer new and
fun things for people to experience."
restaurant's commitment to event-driven experiences already
includes some notable happenings, such as wine tastings and
the "shine and dine" lunches every Monday that allow
guests to enjoy a complimentary car wash while they eat. Each
Tuesday night features special "date night" menus,
and Thursdays offer a great mix of music.
With such a wide and diverse palette of food and fun driven
by a wildly talented and imaginative executive chef, Vintana
is truly a fine dining venue like none other.
(Located in The Centre at Lexus Escondido)
1205 Auto Park Way
Escondido, CA 92029
By Merilee Kern, 'The Luxe List' Executive Editor
Luxe List" Executive Editor Merilee Kern scours the luxury
marketplace for exemplary travel experiences, extraordinary
events, and notable products and services. Submissions are accepted
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or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or
service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate
this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of
Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***