4340 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA | Directions 9212232.873418 -117.212406
Neighborhoods: University City, Northern, Northern San Diego
Poor Customer Relations - Management – On my visit in May of 2009 I went here as part of a business dinner. While at dinner a busser spilled a gravy boat of ketchup on my lap. Apologies were profuse and appreciated. The manager came over and told me to send him a dry cleaning bill. I asked if he'd replace the damaged clothes if the stains didn't come out. He agreed. Subsequently, my pants and sweater were ruined. Upon sending copies of the receipts for the clothes, the manager send me a partial refund for the items, since they were used. I replied that I felt this was insufficient, since to replace them I would still have to pay full price for new clothes. I have never heard back. Perhaps because I am from out of town he didn't feel it necessary to make a serious endeavor to take care of what I believe to be an obligation, but nonetheless, I was very displeased with the handing of the problem. I won't be dining at Donovan's again.
Exceptional service, food and atmosphere – The staff is friendly and very professional. The waiters are freindly, attentive without being bothersome, knowledgable, and handle any request to make your experience wonderful. The wine list is excellent and the steaks melt in your mouth and the meals are what you expect of a high end restaurant. If you want a wonderful evening in a great atmosphere this is the place.
Mediocre Food, Snooty Service – My wife and I dined at Donovan's on 7/8/08 and were underwhelmed, to say the least. Aside from a salad that was served with yellow lettuce, tasteless "homemade" bread, the least impressive crab cakes (cake, actually, they only give you one - for $18.00), I have ever had, and a waiter named James, who looked down his nose at us, I guess Donovan's was okay. The steak was decent, but not any where near being in the same class as Ruth's Chris, and certainly not worth $38.00 for an 8 oz. filet mignon.
We definitely will not go back, I would not go there either if I were you.
overpriced; inconsistent experiences – We asked for a quiet setting with a table allowing us to both sit at the same corner so I could speak directly into my husband's right ear (hearing issue). They sat us right next to the only other occupied table in the room. The table was for two and did not accommodate our hearing issue so we asked for a different one and were told they were all reserved. So, we rearranged the given table so that we could sit at a right angle of one another. We were very annoyed by one of the "waiter's" persistence in reorganizing the table setting that we arranged for our personal needs. He didn't have a clue as we repeated changed it back to our liking. The dinner salad had substandard iceberg lettuce and the dressing was unimpressive. The steaks (ribeye and porterhouse) lacked flavor and were fatty/grisly and dry, respectively. We ordered a bottle of wine and anticipated taking 1/2 of it home for later enjoyment but, without asking, the same waiter poured it into my glass before I stopped him. This experience was not good. Another time, we had a private room with a group of people (HOA Board Members w a Mgmt Company) and we were treated as royalty. I had a tasty soup and indulged in a variety of appetizers, all good. We also had good pricey wines as recommended and our evening was delightful.
Leave the kids at home, filet...so-so, prime rib...ok. – Apparently this restaurant prefers if you don't bring your little ones. We were out celebrating my dad's birthday and brought our 10 mo. old (still in infant car seat) and 2 1/2 yr old. Of course I made reservations just in case. I was told that they didn't have any high chairs, so we brought our travel one. I didn't mind the fact that they put us in corner table since it would keep our daughter from disturbing other patrons. But I didn't appreciate them setting up a fold up table (plastic kind they sell at costco) and expecting that that would support the travel high chair we brought.
Meal: I ordered the Filet Mignon and Shrimp medium + (the server suggested the plus, so I could share w/ my daughter). It was cooked more well and the shrimp was NOT COOKED! My father ordered the Chop Prime Rib medium rare, and that came out more rare. The only meat that was cooked perfectly was my husband's Cajun Prim Rib, ordered Medium Rare, served Medium Rare. My mom's Filet & Portabella Mushrooms was ordered medium well, again, more on the well side. And there seemed to be some pepper seasoning on my Filet that was just so overpowering. I had Garlic Mashed Potatoes, so I knew the pepper didn't come from that. Our server just took our order and after our meals were served, never came back. It was only when we asked that one of the prime ribs be cooked a little longer and when I told them that my shrimp was not cooked, that the server came back. I guess they were worried b/c the manager came over and asked if everything was ok. Overall, would we dine here again? NO. Do I think it was a waste of $200+? yes. I prefer the filet at Ruth Chris and Prime Rib at Stinking Rose (Los Angeles). I only gave it 3 stars b/c my husbands Cajun Prime Rib was really good. And that's the only reason.
Good steak but not consistent – I've been to Donovans a few times. The weird thing is sometimes I think it's great and sometimes I think it's so-so. I always get the same cut, ribeye.
There are better steak houses in San Diego – We've been to Ruth's, Mortons, Flemings and Donovans. If you want a stuffy place that makes value judgements based on one person's appearance, this is the place to go. Steaks were good, but I wouldn't call them great. The waiter was very attentive and friendly, unlike the host that seated us. Surrounding diners looked down their noses at us. Apparently, my 20ish daughter with pink and black hair wasn't welcome. The included fried potatoes were only slightly better than Denny's home fries, but with sauce.
I liked the spinach salad - it was the best part of the meal. My vegetarian daughter had the portabello mushrooms, which she said were OK. Steaks are about the same as Ruth's but not as tasty as either Flemings or Mortons.
GREAT STEAKS BUT HAVE HAD BETTER – My wife and I have had some great steaks and this was certainly great. We enjoyed the atmosphere. The service was very good and we were seated in a romantic setting so it was very enjoyable.
We both ordered a cocktail. My wife had a cosmopolitan and it had lemon instead of lime and a little too much lemon for the drink. I had a martini and it was fine.
For dinner we ordered a 14oz Filet Mignon and a 16oz Prime Ribeye steak. They were both medium and cooked just the way we like them. The filet however we have had better at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Ceasars in Las Vegas and at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach to name a couple. Also, they were less expensive than Donovan's.
All in all it was a great experience and you won't be disappointed.
This place is a perfect 10! – Each year my husband takes me to a different steak establishment for my birthday. Last year it was Donovan's in La Jolla, and to this day, I still rave about it! The ambiance was perfect and romantic... dark and warm. The staff was very courteous, helpful and alert... and it appeared that everyone worked well with each other as a team to make our dining experience memorable! We had a camera on the table and one of the bussers came by to ask if we'd like to have our photo taken! Our meals were absolutely phenomenal as well! I had the double cut filet mignon, rare, and it was heavenly! Perfectly grilled with a cool red center and oh so tender! That steak is still the benchmark for which I compare all others. I can't remember what cut of steak my husband had, but he was very happy with it as well. And, I can't recall the dessert they brought out for my birthday (chocolate cake?) but I just remember that it was the perfect dinner date that night! The food, the service, and of course my date... everything was perfect! I give it a 10!!!
Standout steak and chop house serves USDA Prime aged beef in cosmopolitan, special- occasion atmosphere. – In Short
Swanky and sophisticated, this steakhouse revives an old word, club house feel with the dark mahogany woodwork of long wrap-around bar and grand archways. Accommodating for romantic special occasions or group private dining, Donovan's is a meat eater's paradise. All steaks are USDA Prime, including the popular filet mignon, gently aged and then cooked to perfection. Center cut chops and seafood are also available.
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