Recipe for Success

Photos by Brevin Blach

In September, San Diego Restaurant Week gave thousands of people the chance to try great local restaurants at a discount. Tonight, PacificSD, the hometown hero of paper products, has scored two blind daters an even sweeter deal: all they can eat and drink, whatever they choose from the menu, everything is on the house. Actually, make that two houses. Nice ones.

This evening’s culinary adventure takes place at two new Downtown hotspots. First stop, Donovan’s Circle of 5ths (the name describes a component of music theory), a slick, business-casual steak joint with live jazz and two illuminated bars.

Whether Dawn works up an appetite for seduction, or Ryan bites off more than he can chew, remains to be seen. In the meantime, in hopes of discovering the ingredients that go into the perfect night out, let’s review the pre-date interviews.

PacificSD: Where are you from and where do you live now?
Dawn: I grew up in Hanford, California, and moved to San Diego in 2002. I currently live in PB.
Ryan: I am from Menlo Park. It’s a city in the Bay Area, about 30 minutes south of San Francisco. I moved to San Diego in 1996 to go to school and have been here ever since. I currently live in Pacific Beach.

What do you do for a living?
Dawn: Accountant for a non-profit in Bird Rock.
Ryan: I work at UCSD as a computer programmer.

What do you do for fun?
Dawn: Bikram yoga, dinner and cocktails with friends, attend wine and art shows, go to the beach and dance lessons.
Ryan: I go to the gym, yoga, surf, snowboard, golf, tennis, hike, play guitar and read. Generally, I like doing things that keep me active and healthy.

Why are you going on a blind date in a magazine?
Dawn: Hmmm...good question.
Ryan: This is something I normally wouldn’t do, because it is way out of my comfort zone. I am kind of on the shy side and more of a private person. I feel like I have been missing out on too many experiences because of this, so now I am trying to be more of a “Yes!” man.

Fill in the blanks: In general, the people I date are “blank” and “blank.”
Dawn: Outgoing and good-looking.
Ryan: Tall and brunette.

What are you looking for in a date?
Dawn: Chemistry, someone who is respectful and confident in his own skin. I am super playful and goofy at times, so he has to appreciate those qualities.
Ryan: Well, a physical attraction is obviously important. I also look for someone that is into their fitness and health. It would be great to be able to do a lot of the activities I love together.

What’s your favorite food?
Dawn: Sushi and cupcakes.
Ryan: My mom’s spaghetti.

What’s one thing you’d like to change about yourself?
Dawn: Work less; spend more time with family and friends.
Ryan: I wish I was more outgoing and confident in social situations.

Dawn and Ryan meet for the first time at Donovan’s Circle of 5ths. They sit at a table by the window, looking out over the 5th Avenue bustle as they order cocktails and a BBQ Chicken Flatbread appetizer.

By 9 p.m., the place will be packed with diners and loungers, and a jazz singer will take the stage. For now, however, it’s only 7:30, so the couple poses for photos on the vacant piano bench before having a second round of drinks and heading a few blocks over to Searsucker for dinner.

Donovan’s Circle of 5ths
333 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp

Brian Malarkey, the San Diego TV star of Bravo’s Top Chef: Miami, recently opened Searsucker with business partner James Brennan, the man behind Stingaree. The restaurant on the former site of Z Gallerie has been hopping since it opened a couple months ago, and Dawn seems excited to be here.

Ryan’s manner is more reserved, but he’s all smiles as they take their seats and order cocktails and appetizers. Before their food arrives, the couple is split for mid-date debriefings.

PacificSD: How’s it going so far?

Dawn: Great. He’s handsome, he looks very young, he’s just very sweet, very humble. It’s very refreshing and I’m having a good time.
Ryan: I think the date’s going very well. I’m very comfortable around her and she seems like a down-to-earth girl. She’s in shape. She’s hot. She’s got her head on her shoulders.

Is this the kind of person you would normally date?
Dawn: No. For the way he looks, for what he has to offer, he should have a lot more confidence. He’s amazing, he’s sweet, he’s kind, he’s perfect, he’s everything that any girl would ever ask for-he just has to realize that himself.
Ryan: Usually I date taller girls, but I think she’s actually-I don’t even see that now, like she’s so hot that the size, the height, doesn’t matter to me.

What’s the most attractive thing about your date?
Dawn: His personality. Besides his great looks, he’s humble and he doesn’t realize what an amazing, handsome, sweet, kind person he is. He has so much to offer.
Ryan: Her honesty. She pretty much told me who she was right away and what she’s in to and what she doesn’t like. And that’s exactly how I feel, so I felt a connection with her right away. She wasn’t one of those, you know, fake girls or anything like that.

What’s the least attractive thing about your date?
Dawn: He’s needs to have more confidence.
Ryan: I don’t see anything right now that I think is unattractive.

How was Donovan’s Circle of 5ths?
Dawn: Phenomenal! The appetizers were great, the cocktails were great, the service was amazing. I had a Red Bull vodka. The shot was great. I had a lemon drop, it was phenomenal. I think I’m feeling it right now.
Ryan: Donovan’s was great. Mostly we had some drinks-a lemon drop shot and a couple vodka Red Bulls. We had some appetizers, but I only had one bite, really. I was kind of anxious about this whole thing, so I didn’t eat too much. I thought it was great place, though. It was comfortable. I liked it.

Rate your date on a scale of 1 to 10, physically.
Dawn: I’d give him a seven.
Ryan: I would say a nine. Yeah, definitely nine.

How about for personality?
Dawn: Seven. No I give him...okay, yeah.
Ryan: Personality’s a 10, definitely. She’s definitely someone I can get along with.

Do you want to kiss your date right now?
Dawn: (Pause) No.
Ryan: You know, I wouldn’t mind kissing her. Seriously, right now.

Does your date want to kiss you right now?
Dawn: No.
Ryan: It’s hard for me to say yes, ‘cause I don’t want to be wrong, but I think she might want to kiss me.

Will there be a second date?
Dawn: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Ryan: I hope so, yes. I would definitely go on a second date with her.

611 Fifth Avenue, Gaslamp

After talking over drinks and appetizers at Searsucker for an hour or so, Dawn and Ryan are invited to the business side of the dessert counter to watch their customized, after-dinner treat come to life at the deft hands of pastry chef Rachel King.

As the chocolate concoction arrives at their table, the daters are finally left alone to enjoy the rest of their evening away from the magazine crew’s prying eyes.

The next morning, we call to see what we missed.

PacificSD: Overall, how was the date?

Dawn: Ryan is a nice guy, but he needs to realize what an amazing and handsome guy he is. That’s why I gave him a seven for personality. I would have given him a nine if the confidence was there-and probably a second date.
Ryan: I was a little nervous and anxious before the date, but once we met, all of that disappeared. We hit it off right away and had a great time.

Tell me about Searsucker.

Dawn: I had a few Best Served Cold signature cocktails. We only had a couple of appetizers since Ryan wasn’t hungry. We had the crab cakes and the farm bird lollipops with snake oil and bleu fondue. Both starters were amazing.
Ryan: Searsucker was casual but classy. I thought the open kitchen was really cool. We had the crab cake and another dish that I can’t remember the name of. Sorry, I had a few drinks by that time. We ordered a drink called Best Served Cold. It has gin, watermelon, jalapeno and citrus.

You were at two of the hottest new restaurants in the city. Why didn’t you eat more?

Dawn: I was 20 mins late to Donovan’s, so we didn’t have much time to order. I was excited about Searsucker, but once we got there, Ryan wasn’t hungry. I felt weird eating an entrée alone, so I ordered a couple of appetizers and made him eat some.
Ryan: You know, I didn’t have much of an appetite all day, because I had the blind date on my mind.

Was there a romantic connection?

Dawn: There wasn’t a romantic connection between us. I think we are going to be friends.
Ryan: I think we had an instant connection. I thought she was really attractive, and I was really comfortable being around her. Plus, we are both Aries and half-Asian, so the stars and our genes were pulling us together.

What happened after the magazine crew left you two alone?

Dawn: We went to Ivy and had a good time. It was fun watching him let loose and enjoy the evening after a few cocktails.
Ryan: After dinner, we headed over to the Andaz rooftop for a couple more drinks and a little dancing.

Was there a kiss or romantic moment?

Dawn: I don’t kiss and tell.
Ryan: Yes. At the end of the night, we shared a pretty romantic kiss that involved our tongues and a little biting.

Will there be a second date?
Dawn: Maybe on a friendly level.
Ryan: Definitely, yes.

If your date were food, what food would that be and why?
Dawn: I would say Ryan is like a salad, because he is a total health nut.
Ryan: I think she would have to be the fudge brownie, coffee ice cream dessert we had, because not only did she look good, she tasted even better.

After Match
Finding romance on a blind date is a tall order, but Ryan is a pretty tall guy. Plus, he seems to have overcome his fear of heights, or at least the lack thereof among the women he dates. Altitude aside, Dawn’s looking for a confident man who feels 10-feet tall and knows what he wants-and orders it. In the end, while she may not have found a lifelong dinner partner, at least she got the chance to take one big bite out of life (and, perhaps, Ryan’s lip).

Alas and alack (of entrees), for both daters, it’s back to the smorgasbord of love.
Buon appetito!