Located on the edge of Harbor Island, just out of earshot of the airport, Island Prime’s stilt-supported structure extends out over the bay, giving diners the sense that they are floating along on a dinner cruise. Chef Deborah Scott's retro, yet sophisticated menu features metro steaks, seafood, and other diversely decadent dishes that will make your jaw drop. Between the nostalgic cuisine and the breath-taking view, Island Prime will keep you coming back for more.Read More ...
Enter Island Prime's giant wood-framed glass door into an oasis of rustic textures with exotic touches and prepare your senses for an unforgettable dining experience. While waiting for our table, we took a moment to look around us and appreciate the natural aesthetic conveyed by the restaurant's large wooden beams and the stone wall that lined the stairs down into the dining room. The warm lighting served to accentuate its earth tones. Large, fresh flower arrangements filled with lilies and other exotic flora softened the rustic décor and upheld the restaurant's tropical name.
To the left, in a section of its own, Island Prime's more casual counterpart, C-Level Lounge was preparing for a busy evening. This restaurant has its own kitchen, its own menu, and even its own staff. In fact, the only thing the two restaurants share is the bar, which offers a fun selection of cocktails such as the Ricky Ricardo mojito and the Skyline Martini. Chef Deborah Scott later explained that her concept for C-Level was influenced by her Chesapeake Bay upbringing, and that with both restaurants she was trying to create a feeling of nostalgia, a concept that would later ring true for us.
Our hostess escorted us through the restaurant to our corner table overlooking a phenomenal view of the San Diego skyline and the Coronado Bridge. Located on the edge of Harbor Island, just out of earshot of the airport, Island Prime's stilt-supported structure extends out over the bay, giving diners the sense that they are floating along on a dinner cruise. The restaurant's ambiance, in conjunction with the water, is reminiscent of Monterey Bay. When we first sat down at sunset, the hustle and bustle of the city contrasted with the calm of the just-opened restaurant; soon, the activity of the city began to calm down and the vibe of the restaurant began to pick up. We were surrounded by excited diners and waiters who were eager to help with menu selections and wine pairings.
When creating Island Prime in 2005, the venerable Chef Deborah Scott envisioned a retro, nostalgic feel which she realized through specific details such as the orange accents on wooden beams, or in the presentation of steaks on cast iron skillets. Chef Scott visited our table and expressed her excitement in presenting us some of her own favorite dishes. She tantalized us with the prospect of the wonders to come: a cheese plate, a beet salad, ahi tuna, and their bone-in rib eye.
First, our waiter brought us a special amuse bouche from the kitchen: a beautiful champagne-poached oyster lovingly topped with caviar lying upon a bed of what we could only assume to be sea salt, peppercorns, and cumin. The soft, tender oyster and caviar practically melted in our mouths, and were enhanced by the light alfredo-like sauce in which they were swimming. Popovers fresh from the oven arrived with our oysters; it has been a long time since I've been this excited about bread. The flavors reminded both my dining companion and me of past comforts, while the refreshing jalapeño jelly butter added a hint of the exotic.
The presentation of the Point Reyes Blue Cheese Tart was superb with varying shapes, colors, and placement of the different ingredients. On the right side of the plate, the round of Point Reyes blue cheese was veiled by a fig reduction that had a long train of sherried figs cascading down the middle of the plate with two triangles of a grainy cracker stacked geometrically in between. To the left, my eyes were drawn to the bright green of an arugula salad topped with julienned green apples. Once I allowed my desire for the dish overpower my wish to preserve its beauty, I started with the cheese and figs: the pungent, California-local blue cheese tasted almost sinful, and the figs added the perfect amount of sweetness to its saltiness. Still, the most brilliant part of the plate was the addition of the mild arugula salad, offering such a cleansing of the palate that the cheese and figs could be experienced like anew every time. We enjoyed a glass of Dr. Hyden twenty-year Riesling with the plate, its sweet, smooth taste helping to further balance the course.
When the Baby Beet Salad arrived, it became clear that Chef Deborah Scott loves plating in threes. . On the right sat a round of warm goat cheese, next to which lay three layered beets: one red, one pink, and one golden. To the left, the plate was completed with baby greens and candied walnuts. The crisp beets' fresh taste lived up to their colorful presentation, and the warm, crusted goat cheese added a strong contrast to its creamy and rich flavor. The subtle sweetness of the locally grown baby greens again offered a welcomed respite from the other delicacies, and the crunch of the candied walnuts added yet another enjoyable texture to the already bountiful collection on the plate. Our beet salad was suitably accompanied by a Grenache blend from the Chateau d'Esclans in France that provided a wonderfully subtle flavor that allowed the flavors of the plate to prevail.
While eagerly anticipating our entrees, we took another moment to enjoy the sparkling view out the window, which had taken a backseat to the equally stunning views of our plates. Our three medallions of Everything Crusted Ahi Tuna were charmingly presented alongside spoon leaf spinach, oyster mushrooms, and forbidden rice in diagonal layers with swirls of brown butter citrus vinaigrette filling in the blanks on the plate. The range of smells from oceanic to earthy suggested great treats to come. Starting with the ahi, we were awed by the silky texture of the tuna, accented by the peppery, crunchy crust. The forbidden rice grounded the dish with its deep, purple color and its grainy texture and flavor, reminiscent of a larger-grained risotto. Our waiter shared a little secret with us, explaining that this Chinese rice's tastiness is thanks to the mire-poix mixed in, yet camouflaged by the rich color of the rice. A surprising favorite of the evening came in the form of the spinach, proved incomparable to any spinach we had ever experienced. This wonder was expertly sautéed with garlic and oyster mushrooms just to the point of warmth while still retaining its crispy freshness and earthy taste. The Erath Pinot Noir proved to be an excellent pairing: lighter than a more traditional pinot, it accentuated the tuna's meatiness without overpowering it.
To continue our indulgence, the Prime Bone-In Rib Eye arrived with a side of Truffled-Cream Corn, accompanied by a Meritas from the Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain. The rib eye was presented already sliced on a cast-iron skillet, reminding us of Chef Scott's retro concept for the restaurant. The crisp, flaky outer edges of the steak enhanced its texture. It was simply done yet cooked exquisitely to medium doneness, exemplifying Chef Scott's idea that, it's best to let the steak itself do the majority of the work and accentuate its greatness. The truffled cream corn, masquerading as something your grandmother used to make, was really so much more. Upon our first taste, our original response was that the creamed corn was velvety while maintaining the crispiness of the fresh corn. Then, all of a sudden, the rich taste of truffle arrived, albeit fashionably late. It was a welcomed treat that added a new dimension of opulence to this very traditional dish.
Dessert snuck up on us: we were presented with a Crème Brûlée trio on a square plate with four divots, one each for the three ceramic dishes, and one for a lovely orange and raspberry garnish. The first dish housed a blueberry crème brûlée with a soft chocolate cookie on top; the second, a cherry crème with a crumbly almond cookie; and the third was a classic vanilla. All were sprinkled with a snow of powdered sugar. The blueberry and cherry custards both had fresh fruits mixed in, and all had the smooth texture and rich flavor one would expect to tap into in a crème brûlée. We enjoyed a Muscat de Rivesaltes from the Chateau de Jan in France with our dessert trio, which was chilled and not overly sweet. This course was a delightful conclusion to an incomparable meal at one of the Cohn Restaurant Group's most esteemed restaurants.
Whether it is in the contrast of the retro, woodsy décor of the interior with the vibrant and modern city view, or the various dishes' combinations of textures, shapes, and flavors, Island Prime, much like its Point Reyes Blue Cheese Plate, is truly a study in balance. Chef Scott provides customers with the opportunity to enjoy a chic city view while enjoying more natural, rustic cuisine; she prepares often three-fold dishes that excite all the senses in their complimentary tastes and engaging presentation; she presents customers with a feeling of nostalgia while adding in a touch of the exotic—all culminating to make Island Prime a scintillating culinary getaway.
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Everything was amazing at this place...the view, the staff, the food...! If we ever make it back to San Diego Island Prime is on our must eat list!
Made a reservation through sandiego restaurants dot com. They sent an email confirmation to my phone! we had a great window table where we could see the lights of the city, What a view. My wife had the prime rib and I had the filet mignon. Both were cooked perfectly! we were too full for dessert but the food was so good! Maybe a little pricey but it was worth it in my book.
The meal selection was great. The service was outstanding. And the view was the icing on the cake. Highly recommended.
As a visitor, there was no better place to celebrate our anniversary that we knew of. Location was of prime importance and looking at downtown Sab Diego at night takes some beating, Service and food were excellent. Thanks for creating a beautiful memory for us both
My husband, son and I searched online for recommended restaurants near the hotel we were staying. To our pleasant surprise, the Island Prime nearby came highly recommended. It certainly lives up to its reputation! We had the chef's tasting menu and it was incredible! The service was fabulous and the food was spectacular. The wines were perfectly paired for each decadent bite. We will definitely come back to Island Prime during our next visit to San Diego. Thanks for an excellent evening!
Would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for great food, excellent service and views. Request water view as we saw dolphins and the city lights were magical.
Enjoy a classy holiday meal with only those you choose to share it with. Leave the kids at the card table and the clutter at home. Dine on the red carpet at sunset with memorable cuisine prepared and presented by staff who clearly care to please. We will return.
I am new to San Diego and wanted to celebrate my wife's birthday in a special way. Not knowing what to expect, I chose Island Prime. Bingo! From the moment we arrived and the lovely hostess greeted my wife with "Happy Birthday," to being seated at a window to enjoy the view, to the assistant waiter who greeted Mary with "Happy Birthday," to our waiter who similarly wished her the traditional greeting and was most helpful in making our dining choices to our food - every moment was a diner's delight. The pace, from appetizer to dessert, was relaxed and measured to our mood. We have every intention of returning often to Island Prime and of introducing our many friends to this wonderful restaurant. Thank you for making dining out such a pleasure.
The food was great. The atmosphere was relaxed and the view of the bay was awesome. My husband said the grouper was the best meal he ever ate. Will definitely go back again!
Had a great time.
My husband and I visited San Diego for his 60th Birthday and we had dinner at Island Prime. I primarily picked this restaurant because of the reviews, and I was not disappointed. The staff acknowledged my husband's birthday as soon as we checked in at the podium (we had a reservation). The view was spectacular, the waiter was excellent and they even brought over a small dessert for us to share. I thought the prices were very reasonable. Thank you for making his birthday so special. I would definitely recommend your restaurant to anyone visiting the San Diego area.
Everything was great from parking to the momment we left. A bit pricey for my wallet but my wife enjoyed the evening.
We came from Florida to celebrate my wifes birthday in San Diego. We made our reservation while in Florida not knowing what to expect. We have been disappointed in the past but this was the complete opposite. This is an absolutly beautiful restaurant. The Service was impeccable and the food was delicious. The Bone in filet melted in my mouth. The view was breathtaking and fit for any celebration. The price was comparable to any of the better quality resaurants and worth every penny. A wonderful find and we will return next time we visit.
Your food is wonderful and the view is beautiful. Servce is excellent.
When we arrived, we were greeted with complimentary valet parking. We had reservations and were seated immediately. The atmosphere was dim and relaxing. The view of downtown San Diego was breathtaking. The wine list is extensive and accomodates every type of wine drinker out there, offered by the glass and half bottle. A full bar and nice beer menu to go with all of the wine, including Island Prime specialty drinks. The menu looked delicious. We ordered seared ahi tuna stack for the appetizer, filet mignon with wild mushroom demi and a lobster twice baked potato and diver scallops with saffron buerre blanc, fingerling potatoes and sauteed brussels sprouts. For dessert we had the trio of brulees. All of it was amazing! Highly recommended.
service was great. food was excellent. 3 of us were very satisfied with our dish selection. dessert was outstanding.
This was the first time dining at the Island Prime but it is definately not the last. We go to San Diego to celebrate our anniversay and this year we celebrated our 19th year and it was outstanding. This restaurant has it all.... Food, Service, Atmosphere, Friendly Staff......EVERYTHING.............. Greg & Kim B.
I can't say enough about this place. HIGH quality food, service, etc. We will definitely become regulars here.
You won't be disappointed. Great choice for a special occassion.
The food was great. The wine selected was great. The wait staff was great. It is a little expensive, but the views of San Diego, the quality of the experience, and mostly the food was well worth it.
Excellent food, service, and views a bit on the expensive side, but worth for our anniversary
Great food - terrific view - wonderful service
You will never be disappointed what a great evening, food was great service was great just a woderful night.
I give it a 9 out of 10
We are locals. Island Prime is one of our favorite places to dine in San Diego. The steaks are fabulous, great wine section and the service is outstanding. The view is unlike any in San Diego. From almost any seat you can see the water, city lights and the bay bridge. We have dined at Island Prime several times and will continue to do so. You can even make your reservations on-line. Five stars for food, view and service.
Great Food and Serivce!
The overall experience is summed up in one word. EXCELLENT!
Beautifully restaurant... located right on the water. The service & food is excellent....It is one of our favorite restaurants for any occasion. I love their specialty martini's ... Always memorable.
Took my wife her for our 27th anniversery dinner and thanks to our waitress, we had one of the best evenings out that i can remember. If my ex wife had not given us the gift certificate at Christmas, we would have missed out on a great dinning experience. Thanks Island Prime for a great evening.
had an exceptional birthday dinner. beet salad with goat cheese, Outstanding.... wonderful filet cooked to perfection... our whole party was blown away not only by the view but by the food... awesome Deborah and staff.
From the time we were ushered to our table, till the time we left...everything was on-point! We requested a window seat for my wife's birthday, and we were lucky enough to get one. Our two other friends joined us, and we all agreed that the establishment was inviting and comfortable. The food was excellent! Be prepared to pay above-average when it comes to the bill. However, it is well worth it! I would definitely come back to Island Prime!
Great location, ask for a window seat. Excellent food, great service
The view is wonderful! Also like 333
The Staff at Island Prime went above and beyond to insure my guest and I had a relaxing, enjoyable and satifying dinning experience. Treated us as Prime Time!!!!!
Great atmosphere, right on the Bay. Food was great, a little pricey. All of their staff was polite and friendly. Popular tourist spot, be sure to make reservations. Overheard walk-ups would have to wait up to 45 minutes.
We were celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary. Th staff was great. Very attentive. My steak was a little overcooked. I mentioned it to my waiter and he and the manager immediately offered to remake a steak which came out in just a few minutes. They also brought out an amazing complimentary dessert. My husband also had a steak which he enjoyed. My son ordered a burger from their casual dining restaurant. It was huge and he loved it. It was lovely seeing the boats pass as be had dinner seated by a window. We were too early to see the sunset. Great restaurant for a special occasion if you are in the area.
I love it!
I took some important customers to Island Prime and we had to move the reservation back to 9:30 p.m. I was told that the restaurant would close at 10pm so I was a little bit apprehensive since I have had bad experiences at restaurants around closing time. We could not have been more accomodated. The service was attentive and the food was fantastic. We were seated at a window with a view of the city by the water and even though we were the last customers in the place, we never felt rushed or pushed to finish our meal. It was a tremendous experience and I received compliments from my customers about the evening.
I love this place but going on Mother's Day was not a good idea. I would have liked their regular menu.
They didn't rush us in any way. The objective of the restaurant wasn't to turn over tables as fast as possible to get more patron volume. We were encouraged to take our time and enjoy ourselves
Good location. Friendly staff. Attentive waitress. Food above par. Definitely a return visit next time in the area.
The service was great the food and abiance excellent!
Kid friendly, great view, good bar drinks, black and white salmon is amazing, wonderful friendly staff, really nice. Easiest Thanksgiving dinner ever for us :)
The food, service and atmosphere were all excellent. Although feedback questions were noted with the statement that "All questions are optional" my feedback was initially rejected because "You did not answer some of the questions. In order to receive your rewards please complete the red highlighted questions!" Perhaps the notation regarding questions being optional, you should rethink your process and make RESPONSES to the questions optional. I wonder what rewards I will receive.
The atmosphere is inviting and the table that my party received had a very nice view of the bay and downtown San Diego. The staff was very attentive and courteous and the food was very good. For a laid back local as Island Prime, I would recommend this restaurant to anyone wanting to enjoy a nice get-together with family and friends.
Great food, nice ambience, and picturesque sunsets, who could ask for more?
The service is always top notch. The staff goes out of their way to make sure everything is to your satisfaction. I have been going to this location for years.(It used to be Rueben's)It was good when it was Ruebens but it is even better as Island Prime. Be sure and try the lobster stuffed baked potatoe. (appetizer) Bon Apitite
I made an on line reservation and was pleased to find it worked. Originaly I had requested 7:30pm (made late Wed. or early am. Thrus) They came back with 8:15 which was acceptable and I had requested a "Romantic" table near the window. When we arrived at 8:14 pm we were told (very nicely) that it would take a few minutes. 5-6 minutes later we were seated. Yes at the window but around the side, but view was acceptable. Service was good through out, our waiter did not come back every 10 minutes to ask if everything was okay, but did ask once or twice and that was fine. Time laps between courses was right on.Entree was just a little on the cool side but again acceptable.
Expectations and Results: well having followed the chef (chief/chef whatever) Debrah Scott from Kemo's and Indigo etc.. I was looking forward to her excelent touch with the exotic touch of spices and tastes in the dishes. It was there but very hidden or faint and did not explode of the plate like she managed at the fore mentioned places. The presentation is not quite as breathtaking. I think she/they are assuming that the whole "eating on the water" thing will carry the dinning experiance. The food it's self was good, note I did not say excellent, just good.
All in all I would give this whole experiance a 3.5 stars out of the 5 star rating. I would suggest it to an out-of-town friend because the view is awsome, the food good and the service to good/acceptable standards. To me "good" does not = "Excellent". All in all a pleasant night out. -B-
My Husband of 20 years grew up with Deborah Scott's great Cuisine when Deborah was Executive Chef at Mediterraneo, a restaurant in Alpine. Deborah recently partnered with David Cohn in the founding of Kemo Sabe in Hillcrest and Indigo Grill, just a few miles away in Little Italy. Both restaurants have great menus with great service. When Deborah opened Island Prime, and the adjoining sister restaurant C-Level Lounge in the summer of 2005, we were excited to to possibly win a third fine dining lottery.
For my Birthday on 10 December 2007, I wanted to try for the Trifecta. Sorry, Island Prime was the most expensive New Jersey Diner food we have ever experienced. My meal consisted of a $35.00 Pacific Red Snapper Entrée with green beans (soaked in Garlic), served with an $8.00 tureen of White and Black Truffle Mashed Potatoes (soaked in Garlic). The White and Black Truffles were nowhere to be found. I was not amused. The menu card does not warn the gourmet/gourmand that Island Prime promotes a Central European folk belief in Garlic as a powerful ward against demons, werewolves, and vampires. My Husband wanted to try the Porcini Dusted Rack of Colorado Lamb which he saw advertised on Island Prime's web site, alas it was replaced by a poor man's Osso Buco Lamb Shank, priced of course at the same $40. After it was noticed by our server that we barely touched our meals, were asked by a roving manager/ambassador as to how we liked the food, we fully complied.
We explained our travails with the menu, sharing our poor dining experience, and we watched as the manager/ambassador's smile turned into a seer that matched the Garlic Reeking Cuisine. The now tight lipped manager/ambassador offered us Sorbet "to clean the palate" but we politely declined. We just wanted to go home. We might go back for the wonderful city/bay view and some drinks at their C-Level Lounge, but Island Prime is just "Not Ready For Prime Time."