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Concept Two.Seven.Eight :: 5th Avenue's Latest Joyful Indulgence

by Billy Nordmeier
Sunday Apr 30, 2017

Food, friends and cocktails: Concept Two.Seven.Eight's mantra checks all the boxes on paper and over-delivers in person.

I had the pleasure of experiencing Concept Two.Seven.Eight on a fine Sunday evening. My very handsome beau and I had our choice of tables and opted for a cozy corner with warm lighting. We were promptly greeted by the service staff and the Managing Partner and Creative Director Jessica Fisher, a California girl who cut her teeth in kitchens stretching from San Francisco to the mean streets of New York.

The numbers in the restaurant's name, Concept Two. Seven.Eight, come from the neighborhood area code she called home while in New York and still remains near and dear to her heart, even after she returned to California to begin a new chapter.

Concept Two.Seven.Eight's interior was a pleasant surprise. When it was The Tractor Room it was a very dark and brooding dining room, classy, but a little too Morticia Addams for my taste. They have done a wonderful job with the renovation, the space finally feels like it has found its identity. Simple black and white contrasts inspires a cozy farmhouse feel, with the bar remaining the center of attention. The extensive (pooch-friendly) outdoor seating area, is pretty much a must for any San Diego restaurant nowadays and Concept Two. Seven.Eight has it in spades.

Once we were settled and began hydrating, our cocktails were delivered to our table by the Bar Manager Billy Potvin, named Thrillist's and Bombay Sapphire's "Most Imaginative Bartender" in New York City in 2013. The bar menu boasts some of the most creative, cocktail offerings in Hillcrest, hands down, and Billy's cocktail style certainly reflects his dedication to his craft and his boundless creativity. Their menu ranges from classic well-executed cocktails with a twist to palate changing drinks like, The Girl Backstage; with Shishito-infused vodka, tropical green tea, pink guava, winter melon bitters and cinnamon. Trust me, it was delicious! The liquid part of our dining experience seemed to alternate between spirit forward classics and edgy glimpses into cocktail nirvana.

With our evening nicely underway, our first food item was a show-stopper, Twice Baked Chicken Skins with Chipotle aioli! It brought me back to my childhood on Kaua'i and I couldn't get enough of it. Crispy, caramelized and so umami, it made me want to take my shoes off and leave them at the door, Hawai'i style. The rest of the food items took their cue from this awesome start and did not disappoint: Florets of Fried Cauliflower, perfect Carnitas Tacos, Shishito Toast, Braised Short Ribs, all steeped with sumptuous variations of Negronis, Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and perhaps even a Wolf in Disguise (avua cacha├ža, dragonfruit, hibiscus, apple and yuzu).

In a little bit of a glut-induced euphoria, sponsored by well-crafted cocktails, the Chef de Cuisine, Rachel Snyder, paid us a visit. She's been in the kitchen honing her craft since she could reach a cutting board, and we could taste it. A California native and Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, Rachel's attention to detail is obvious in everything we ate. Quintessentially farm to fork, Concept Two. Seven.Eight ensure diners receive food that is not only locally-sourced, but also crafted with care and precision.

In a rather embarrassing admission, we had no room left for dessert...I know, I know... #firstworldproblems. Just a spot of coffee and the low-key funky music in the background, was how we ended our experience at Concept Two.Seven. Eight. Come for the food, bring your friends and enjoy the cocktails... No need to leave your shoes at the door.

3687 Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest.
For more information or to make reservations, call 619.278.0080 or go

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