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Shades Of Blue

There is a light in the east. It is neon and it illuminates this lonely stretch of University Avenue beckoning thirsty travellers. It was a bit on in the night, and after a late dinner of homemade corn chowder with roasted pepper puree, I was not exactly craving a night on the town. The quick drive to La Mesa surprised me, Highway 94 to Massachussetts and up to the main drag. A slight bit intrigued by the yellow lit sign on my right, Falcon’s Lure, I was almost baited away, next time. But I trudged on and pulled into 7777 University at The Riviera Supper Club and Turquoise Room.

Now for those of you familiar with The Turf Club, you will find some comfort here. Whatever your feelings are about the turn of events that forced Tim Mays and Sam Chammas to venture in other directions, I have found solace for you. Most recently a cuban hotspot called “Habana”, the new, yet classic digs will appease the pickiest connoisseur.

We walked in through the foyer with glimpses of two worlds. To our left was the dimly red lit dining room, complete with walk up grill and all. This is no apartment porch Hibachi, my friends, this is the real deal. Big enough for the gathering of ten or more hungry patrons as they corral around with their prime steaks and portobellos. But we had arrived past dinner time and so we chose door number 2. This led us into the Turquoise Room.

Although we were under stiff debate as to whether the wall color was sky blue or turquoise, we still felt the room was aptly named. The 6 new circular booths adorned the wall opposite the bar, safely guarded by two miniature armor clad knights. I wondered why there was an electrical outlet at the top of each booth. My compatriate mumbled something about city building codes and I just envisioned the cream of college students with their laptops open, working on that final physics paper while sipping on one of several specialty drinks.

There were a few interesting concoctions of note, namely “The Esquire”, classic “Harvey Wallbanger” and my curiosity, “The Art Snob”. This was a delightful combination of Knob Creek Bourbon, gingerale, bitters and an orange twist. Looking further down the menu, we spied Bacon Chocolate Cake, as well as Bourbon Baked Beans. Man, I’ve got to come back here for dinner!!

I ordered a Hendricks Gin and tonic which came in a tall pint glass. A nice and well balanced pour. My consort ordered a Maker’s Mark Bourbon on the rocks. Behind the bar which could seat 14, a painted glass coat of arms was backlit and dominated our attention. The crest had a fish, a chalice and 2 fleur de lis. What on earth could this symbolize in this late 60’s environment. When bartender, Josh introduced himself we learned some history. First of all the coat of arms had actually been discovered in the old store room from when this place had been called Jamar’s Steak House. What a score! Apparently the same jukebox that once entertained masses at The Turf Club had found it’s new home here.

Mellowing out to some Beatles, I looked at the two TVs on the walls and was charmed to see Chuck Norris doing his thing in Code Of Silence. It seemed to mingle completely with the drinks, the gray stone walls and sparkling stones embedded into the over hanging lamps. As the thin crowd started to trickle out, Sam introduced himself and donned us the Late Night Pioneers for holding down the fort past 1am. He told us business is starting to pick up now that people are realizing they are there. No offense, La Mesa, but I think the bulk of this crowd will be imported from Hillcrest, North Park and Golden Hill.

While I feel I got a good bang for my gin dime, I was a bit surprised to see an $8 cocktail at this style of joint. Being out here, they may want to try to attract an audience at first with more recession priced libation. Wait, was that just Patrick Swayze driving a semi truck on AMC? I must have missed that one growing up. This place suits me like a fine fitting glove. I must make it back soon for the Cowboy Ribeye and a Sazerac.

As we strode into the ampley spaced parking lot, warmed by the cocktails as well as the friendly staff, we knew we had found a new place to call home. Definitely worth a night out with friends or a fantastically fun date. We passed the Falcon’s Lure, one more time, and ventured to turn around, arriving at the door a few minutes too late. So unquenched, we left with that glowing blue neon sign fading into the distance like a desert mirage, knowing that soon we would see her again.

Details »
  • City: La Mesa
  • Phone: 619-713-6777
  • Name: Riviera Supper Club and Turquoise Room
  • Address: 7777 University Avenue