Sometimes you just hit a good place on a bad day, ya know? Having visited Hexagone a few times, the experiences have been mixed. Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Laurel Street, it’s a charming little place that many people clearly enjoy for lunch or dinner. Billing itself as a blend of traditional French dishes with updated California cuisine, the restaurant has many delicious and distinctive offering. My first visit was with a fellow food writer, and the experience was flawless. The place was respectably busy; the service was spot-on and the food memorable. The Onion Soup Gratinee is an absolute delight and obviously freshly made. Copious amounts of tender, sweet onions swimming in a fabulous broth topped with melted cheese and a crouton almost made for a complete meal in itself. The Coq au Vin is true to its deep French roots with perfectly cooked chicken and a sauce comprised of a lovely red wine and herbs.
The next visit to Hexagone was not quite the pleasant experience I expected. Having planned a lunch with two of my favorite San Diego ladies, we all agreed to give it a go. We arrived and were seated at a well laid out table in the center of the dining room, replete with white linen. The restaurant quickly filled and we were all quite impressed with the amount of business they do on a Wednesday afternoon. We soon became less impressed as the loud drone of the other diners literally had us leaning forward and raising our decibel levels just to be heard. Our server was rather brusque, interrupting in the middle of conversations to share the Chef’s special without a welcome or introduction. Not that we were looking to get chummy, but come on…my name is Blank and I’ll be serving you today is the baseline of polite service.
After discussing the fact that we had all done 45 minutes of cardio that morning, we went all out. My guests ordered the aforementioned onion soup, a Field Green Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Blue Cheese, and I had the Steamed Mussels Marinières. The salad was beautifully plated and the hearty serving of Mussels provided plenty for all of us to enjoy. The broth was delicious (although a bit citrusy for my taste) and the shellfish was very fresh and flavorful. All was delectable with the exception of waiting for 30 minutes for it to arrive.
Our entrees included the Braised Short Ribs with Julienne of Vegetables, the Chicken Breast “Bercy” Sautéed with Shallots and Mushrooms and the Chefs special of Halibut in a Lobster sauce. The Short Ribs were completely the star of the show with a very healthy portion of the most incredibly tender cuts I’ve enjoyed in a long time. The sauce was rich, delicious and not at all overwhelming. Unfortunately, both the Chicken and Halibut had been cooked within an inch of their lives and even the wonderful sauces could not hide that.
We asked for an extra helping of vegetables instead of mashed potatoes (there’s that cardio again) which was forgotten, and when we requested Horseradish for the ribs, our server was never heard from again. Add that to the fact that we waited another 30 minutes for the entrees. When delivered, sauce was sloshed all over the plate only to be wiped off in front of us with a napkin that had been hanging from our servers waist for the better part of the day. Not that appetizing considering we were ravenous from the wait.Hexagone has all of the makings of a wonderful restaurant with a charming French host. It boasts a great location and a menu that includes eclectic and hard to find dishes like Frogs Legs, Calves Livers and Sweetbreads. Prices run in the $20 and $30 range, so it’s not cheap but not extravagant. I’d leave the kids at home for this one.
We can only hope that the service improves and the cooking times are rethought. We’ll likely go back, but will keep a wary eye out for the server who seemed much more interested in us adhering to his schedule than to ours. Enjoy!
- City: san diego
- Phone: 619-236-0467
- Name: Hexagone
- Address: 495 Lauel Street