Blind Date: Stepping up to the plates

10.13.2016 -- Savannah Rye and Robert Keller at THE LOT in Point Loma, the first stop of their blind date. (Rick Nocon/ For The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Rick Nocon / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Photos by Rick Nocon | Matchmaking by Jessica Pelligra
Point Loma, the first stop of their blind date. He is drinking Daou Cabernet and she a Kistler Chardonnay. (Rick Nocon/ For The San Diego Union-Tribune)” width=”300” height=”200”>

Everyone has different taste, especially when it comes to dating. To add flavor to this evening’s would-be romantic interlude, PACIFIC is taking a (brand) new couple on a gastronomic tour of four new San Diego restaurants. Blind daters Savannah and Rob met less than an hour ago in the Epic Limo that’s about to drop them off at their first stop, The Lot at Liberty Station. Before they arrive, let’s review the pre-date interviews.

PACIFIC: Where are you from and where do you live now?SAVANNAH: I am originally from a very small town called Placerville [California]. I just recently moved to San Diego.

ROB: I’m from a small town - San Luis Obispo, California. I currently live in Little Italy in San Diego.

What do you do for a living?
SAVANNAH: I have been in the food-slash-event industry for five years and just recently got a serving job at Florent in the Gaslamp District. I have always had a passion for the food industry.
ROB: I work for Southern Wine and Spirits. They are the largest liquor distributor in the states.

What do you do for fun?
SAVANNAH: I like to go out with friends, hiking, shopping, spending time with family, doing yoga, being outdoors.
ROB: I love the outdoors, so, surfing, scuba diving,
snowboarding and exploring.

What are you best at?
SAVANNAH: Being genuine and down to earth. I am very honest and upfront.

ROB: I’m best at being spontaneous

What do you suck at?
SAVANNAH: I suck at cooking. It’s not something I have ever been good at.
ROB: Planning.

What are you looking for in a date, physically and/or otherwise?
SAVANNAH: I am looking for a date that doesn’t get boring or awkward, something spontaneous and fun.
ROB: Someone that is beautiful inside and out, confident, independent and fun.

Rate yourself on a scale from one to 10 for looks.
ROB: Eight.

How about for personality?
ROB: Nine.

What’s your biggest fear?
SAVANNAH: Spiders and snakes.
ROB: Fear of failure.

What traits could your date exhibit that would be deal-breakers?
SAVANNAH: Bad style, no sense of humor, awkward or not being able to make me laugh.
ROB: Being on their phone the whole time.

How many people have you slept with?
SAVANNAH: Five guys.
ROB: This is a second-date question.

Fill in the blanks: I want my blind date to be “blank” and “blank.”
SAVANNAH: Fun and cute.
ROB: Spontaneous and fun.

What’s your favorite food?
ROB: Comfort food - steaks, mashed potatoes, American-style.
SAVANNAH: Anything Italian, anything carbs, pasta.

What food do you hate?
ROB: Spicy, curries, Indian food.
SAVANNAH: I don’t hate food, I love food!

What’s your favorite San Diego restaurant?
SAVANNAH: Florent, in the Gaslamp District. And The Lot; I want to go back.
ROB: I love barleymash.

Will the night end with a kiss, something more or something less?
SAVANNAH: Could possibly end with a kiss, but nothing more.
ROB: I would never be that presumptuous.

What’s the most important thing in the world?
SAVANNAH: The most important thing in the world is love.
ROB: The relationships I have with my friends and family.

The Lot pairs high-end dining with a luxury cinema experience, but Savannah and Rob will skip the flick this evening and get acquainted in the swanky new restaurant instead. They’re smiling as they arrive and head inside, and seem to be getting along well as chef Matt Sramek’s house specialties appear at their table alongside paired wines.

Changing Courses

More tables for two

After about an hour at The Lot, the couple jumps back into the limo and heads to the Downtown waterfront to check out the recently unveiled Sally’s Fish House & Bar. Tipping the scales here are chef Jay Payne’s seafood offerings, which emerge from the kitchen with paired cocktails in the form of sushi and Sally’s signature crab cake.

The evening’s epic epicurean adventure has only just begun, so it’s still too early to say whether Savannah and Rob have developed a taste for each other - but at least they’re at least sitting closer to each other now, laughing together as they wrap things up in the Marina District.

Next stop is Little Italy’s brand-new Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen, helmed by recent Bravo TV Top Chef contestant Giselle Wellman, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu Academie d’Art Culinaire in Mexico City. Wellman’s Modern American offerings and Pacific Standard’s craft cocktails provide a glorious and decadent al fresco dining experience under the stars. Once they’ve gotten a chance to taste everything, the couple is split for mid-date debriefings.

PACIFIC: How’s it going so far?
SAVANNAH: It’s great. I am having so much fun. This is one of the best experiences I have ever had.
ROB: Going great. She is a very sweet girl, outgoing.

What were you first impressions?
SAVANNAH: Super outgoing, super rad. Very nice and down-to-earth.
ROB: She looked beautiful; she had a nice purple dress on. Very sweet, maybe a little shy at first, definitely warmed up as the date has gone on.

Is this the type of person you’d normally date?
SAVANNAH: No. He’s really cool, but not the norm I would date. But I am really glad I got to meet him.
ROB: Probably. I really like her mentality. She is very easygoing; she is a very genuine person.

What do you think of the way your date is dressed?
SAVANNAH: I like his style, I do. His style is good.
ROB: She looks very beautiful, very unique.

What do you think of The Lot?
SAVANNAH: The ambiance is super cool. The service was awesome, and the food was amazing. Really chill, not super fancy, upscale-slash-casual.
ROB: I really liked it. I was impressed. They have a movie theatre attached, which is so cool. It was very relaxed, but also high-end. Great food and vibe.

How was the food?
SAVANNAH: Amazing. I am usually very, very picky with the food I like and I liked everything they served us.
ROB: Amazing. The calamari we had was great. We had a cheese plate, and the risotto was so good.

What did you think of Sally’s?
SAVANNAH: Super good. I would definitely go back. We had sushi, crab cakes, octopus. It was a smoked octopus and it was so good.

ROB: Sally’s was nice. The drinks were really good. I had the blueberry mojito and a ginger Old Fashioned; I loved the hint of vanilla. I also loved the wood-smoked Octopus; it was phenomenal and so unique with the almost barbecue flavor.

What do you think of Pacific Standard?
SAVANNAH: It’s awesome, I really like the outdoor fireplace, and the staff is really nice and cool.
ROB: It’s great. I like the vibe. Very crafty drinks, handmade. They even make their own almond milk here.

What have you had to eat and drink here?
SAVANHAH: We had crab cake, steak and fries.
ROB: We started with an amazing charcuterie plate of cured meats. I had the Riviera cocktail, a nice take on and Old fashioned. For the main, I had the Steak Frites, cooked perfectly.

What’s the most attractive thing your date has done so far?
SAVANNAH: Probably his etiquette. He is very respectful and knows how to treat a lady.
ROB: The most attractive thing is she’s opened up to me and told me about herself and her life. I feel like a lot of times people aren’t very open on a first date. She doesn’t seem like she has anything to hide and seems very genuine.

Rate your date on a scale from one to 10 for looks
ROB: Eight.

And for personality?
SAVANNAH: Ten, definitely. He is super outgoing and nice.
ROB: Nine.

What’s your date’s most attractive quality?
SAVANNAH: His personality.
ROB: She has a very relaxed demeanor, doesn’t feel like there’s any pressure or expectation. It’s very easygoing, and she makes it feel more comfortable.

How about a least-attractive quality?
SAVANNAH: Probably the age difference, we are kind of on a different level.
ROB: Maybe a little aloof? She’s young, but very mature for her age. I don’t think she’s looking for anything serious.

Do you want to kiss your date right now?
SAVANNAH: Not on the first date, no.
ROB: I don’t know yet. I don’t think there is much sexual tension between us. It’s more of a friendly feeling.

Does your date want to kiss you?
SAVANNAH: I’m not sure. Maybe?
ROB: Uhhh... no.

How and when will the date end?
SAVANNAH: To be determined.
ROB: I think, no matter what happens, we definitely created a friendship out of this and we get along. I want to show her the city, introduce her to people, open up her social network and help her in any way I can.

Dinner is Swerved

More food at every turn

After the mid-date break, Savannah and Rob take the limo to the evening’s fourth and final restaurant, the new Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp. What else could there possibly be to eat? The answer is “S’more.”

As dessert arrives, the magazine crew finally leaves the couple alone to enjoy the rest of their evening away from the camera. The next morning, we call to see what we missed.

PACIFIC: How was Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers?
SAVANNAH: Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers was cool. It’s more of a casual restaurant.
ROB: I think it’s a great location and a fun sports bar.

What did you eat and drink there?
SAVANNAH: We had dessert and a few cocktails. They were good!
ROB: I had a Dirty Sherry [whiskey] and wings.

What were your favorite dish and restaurant of the night?
SAVANNAH: My favorite food and restaurant was The Lot. I really loved the goat cheese and jam appetizer. The calamari was amazing also.
ROB: I thought the smoked Octopus at Sally’s was amazing. My favorite location was The Lot.

How and when did the date end?
ROB: It ended when we had to be wheeled out from Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers after eating so much on our date.
SAVANNAH: Date ended after the last restaurant.

Was there a kiss or romantic exchange?
ROB: No, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t fun.

What was the best part of the date?
SAVANNAH: Best part was getting to try a bunch of new things.
ROB: I think the best part of the date was going to so many great restaurants. It was like five dates in one.

Fill in the blanks: I wish my date had a bigger “blank” and a smaller “blank.”
SAVANNAH: Bigger opinions and smaller questions.
ROB: A bigger appetite and smaller friend zone.

Will there be a second date?
SAVANNAH: Not sure about another date.
ROB: I don’t know. At the very least we both made new friends out of this experience.

You gave your date such high ranks at the mid-date break. Did something go wrong?
SAVANNAH: No, nothing happened. He was really nice and cool. I had a really fun time.
ROB: I wouldn’t say anything went wrong. The date was amazing; it just didn’t seem like the chemistry was there. I like tri tip and I like waffles, but that doesn’t mean they go well together.

What’s one thing your date should know before going on another date?
SAVANNAH: It was so spontaneous; there isn’t really anything he should know before another date.
ROB: You can never smile too much.

Anything else you’d like to add?
SAVANNAH: I would just like to say thank you again to PACIFIC for the experience. It was really fun.
ROB: It might be a fun idea to have gone on a date with five different girls.

AFTERMATCH: Last night’s blind date was a lot to digest. Despite the menu of new flavors to savor, the potential for spiciness and the tasty reviews at the mid-date break, the evening’s heat never reached the level of full romantic flame. Savannah said she wished Rob had “bigger opinions and smaller questions.” He said he wished Savannah had “a bigger appetite and smaller friend zone.” Maybe the lack of connection stemmed from a portions issue.

It’s (almost) interesting to note that the number “5” seems to have significance for each dater. When asked how many people she had slept with, Savannah said, “Five guys.” And Rob’s final thought: “It might be a fun idea to have gone on a date with five different girls.” Perhaps the winning recipe would have been to visit one additional restaurant. Either way, it’s time to stick a fork in this one.

Promotional consideration and delicious food and paired cocktails provided by: The Lot, 2620 Truxtun Rd., Point Loma (Liberty Station), 619.566.0069,; Sally’s Fish House & Bar, One Market Pl., Marina District, 619.358.6470,; Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen, 2137 Pacific Hwy., Little Italy, 619.819.0090,; Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, 322 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp, 619.546.9292,