Mar. 17th, 2011

AIRR Supper Club Opens in Downtown San Diego

Photos Courtesy of AIRR
AIRR Supper Club is one of the newest restaurants to open in Downtown San Diego, with Consulting Chef Scott Leibfried. In the space formerly known as the Witherby, just above Sidebar, AIRR is both a high-class restaurant and nightlife spot boasting great food, innovative craft cocktails and a chic atmosphere.

Upon ascending a steep staircase we were greeted by the hum of music and conversation. A self-proclaimed provocative social dining experience, long white leather benches provide most of the seating, encouraging diners to interact with each other. Conceptualized and designed by Amy Noel, the entire space is stark white: the tables, chandeliers, plates, walls and floor, with bits of red bleeding in from a second room of the same crimson shade. Servers add to the artistic accent, wearing scarlet outfits that allow them to stand out in the dining room and blend in while in the nightclub. Although the restaurant is so white, it does not feel harsh and antiseptic, but rather comfortable, lively and pure. In a few words AIRR’s decor is clean, modern and simple, as if the intent was to make sure the food was the only focus for diners: no distractions.

That said, it would have taken a lot to distract us from our plates. Dinner began with two starters: the first a plate of cured meats and cornichones, the second a Cheese and Crackers plate featuring house made crackers, dried berries, and several artisanal cheeses. For entrees, we shared both the Sweet and Sour Grilled Jumbo Prawns along with the Slow Roasted Domestic Lamb. On that note, I absolutely must go into further detail in regards to the rack of lamb. Either Chef Scott and I are culinary soul mates or he knew I was coming. Some of my absolute favorite foods in the world are kalamata olives, goat cheese, tomatoes and lamb; those ingredients, combined with arugula and white beans composed the entire plate. I was in heaven. I have also diligently tried to encourage my husband to fall in love with the same flavors and until tonight he had never surrendered. A personal thank you to the chef for making my other half a convert, at the conclusion of our meal he beamed to our server: I have never had lamb that I liked, but this? I loved. We finished off the feast with Fresh Baked Cookies and a Bowl of Strawberries.

I suppose it’s really not much of a surprise that we enjoyed the food so much. Holding positions in Michelin-rated restaurants owned and operated by famous names in the culinary world, Chef Scott has also worked at the Four Seasons Beverley Hills, Napa Valley Grille and more currently is the executive chef position at San Diego’s Soliel @k.

Lastly I want to touch on libations. The cocktail menu offerings were smart and sophisticated. All-in-all we sampled four drinks between the two of us and stand-out choices included the vodka mixture Janis J along with the Johnny Cry Cry Cry that featured both Johnnie Walker Black with a mist of Laphroig; the drink was much like Milk & Honey’s Penicillin, but with slightly less of a sweet accent and a duller twist of citrus. Whiskey cocktails are making more of an appearance lately and this was a welcome addition to the arsenal of choices. The restaurant also prides itself on featuring small-vineyard wines that are not on the shelves in major establishments. Additionally, rumor has it that the basement of AIRR will eventually be a space for wine connoisseurs to store their prized bottles. The new area will include winding paths of wine storage, tasting rooms and an elevator that will go directly from AIRR itself downstairs. In the future the nightclub will also introduce a VIP section that is at least partially closed off from the rest of the main area. Its placement is ideal within a bustling club scene, but allows for the privacy many crave.

Designer Amy Noel said, “I was inspired to design AIRR because I wanted to create what I feel has been missing in San Diego – until now... This supper club experience and rock and roll vibe is a compilation of my travels around the world, fashion and interior design background, and flavors we all crave. This place is going to rock the foundation of our city.”

Opened this week, AIRR is indeed a welcome addition to the Gaslamp. The supper club's staff is friendly and unpretentious, the food and drink are elegant and chic. Make it a point to head there soon, I have a sneaking suspicion that this place will get packed every weekend and shortly it may be difficult to get a reservation for dinner.

AIRR Supper Club is open Wednesday-Sunday 5PM-2AM, with the kitchen tentatively serving food until about 11:30PM. 619-546-8306.

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