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Fine dining meets sports bar

There are plenty of sports bars in San Diego, but Prospect Bar & Lounge - the newest addition to the local scene - is in a class by itself, and not just because of its drop-dead views of the Cove.

This upscale bar and lounge doesn’t even look like a typical sports bar. There are nicely framed photos of sports superstars, but no tacky memorabilia or jerseys hanging from the walls. Prospect Bar looks like a fine dining spot, and it is. Of course, the sports bar crowd can still watch sporting events on large-screen televisions, but the decor is attractive and sophisticated enough to appeal to discriminating La Jolla diners. And there are comfortable sofas and lounge chairs as well as comfortable tables to create a relaxed atmosphere.

If that sounds like a winning combination to you, give Prospect Bar & Lounge a try. You’ll find a fine assortment of appetizers to start you off – and the restaurant serves all day long, beginning at 11 a.m. The Happy Hour crowd can enjoy half-priced appetizers and drink specials every day of the week from 4 to 8 p.m. And those prices are available throughout the restaurant, not just in the bar.

You might not expect to find fresh California cuisine at a sports bar. That’s another thing that sets Prospect Bar & Lounge apart. There are many fresh and healthy items on the menu. The appetizer list boasts Baja shrimp ceviche with tri-colored chips ($11), seared wild-caught ahi served with a flavorful sweet soy glaze ($13), hummus dip with fresh baked bread ($8.50 for a portion big enough to share), and lobster mango ceviche ($12). Those selections are not only healthy, they’re delicious.

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Typical bar foods are also available, such as chicken wings with a variety of sauces to spice them up ($8), calamari with home-made chipotle aioli ($8.50), potato skins ($7.50) and chicken tenders ($8) - and they’re very good.

There are three delicious soups on the menu available by the bowl ($6.50) or the cup ($4). Try the lobster bisque, French onion, or chicken corn chowder.

Every sports bar worth its salt has a great burger selection. Prospect Bar’s might just be a cut above. Take the cheeseburger blues ($12.50). This classic is piled high with blue cheese crumbles, bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickle. Like all the burgers on this interesting menu, it comes with seasoned fries. You can substitute a side salad for $1.50, if you prefer.

Grilled Portobello mushroom with Jarlsburg Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato ($8) is one of the exciting sandwiches on the menu. It makes a great vegetarian alternative to the traditional burger.

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The salmon BLT ($9.50) is another unique offering. This hearty sandwich contains a grilled salmon filet served on layers of crisp lettuce, then topped with bacon and avocado, tomato, blue cheese and a house aioli. The whole thing is piled into a hoagie roll for a satisfying meal.

Grilled wild-caught sea bass is offered in a sandwich with house-made tartar sauce, lettuce and tomato ($10.50), and you can get a grilled chicken and roasted pepper sandwich on toasted bun with the restaurant’s signature cilantro-almond aioli ($9). Turkey lovers can opt for a California turkey club with Swiss cheese, bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato ($8.50).

Wraps are popular additions to most sandwich menus, and Prospect Bar features five wraps ranging in price from $6 to $9. Among the terrific choices are grilled shrimp with Baja fresh veggies, cheese and other ingredients on a white flour tortilla; crispy buffalo chicken drizzled with Caesar dressing; and a La Jolla Cobb wrap.

If you prefer your Cobb salad on a plate, try this original favorite ($8.50). The Mediterranean salad is another good one. It comes with hummus, feta cheese, artichoke hearts and other salad fixin’s ($8). You can also indulge in an entree, such as the Angus filet mignon ($24.50), blackened sea bass ($16), or the popular surf and turf, which includes a 10-ounce portion of beef, a lobster tail, vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes ($22).

The desserts include brownie s’more ($8), home-made chocolate mousse ($6) and raspberry sorbet ($6). And you can bet the well-stocked bar has everything covered on the beverage side.

The interior of the restaurant is attractive and well furnished, with sheer white curtains on the large window wall. Prospect Bar is located on the second floor, and its lovely outdoor patio area offers spectacular views of Ellen Scripps Browning Park.

With its striking ambiance, fresh California-based cuisine, modest prices, and pleasant atmosphere, Prospect Bar & Lounge is on track to becoming a popular restaurant and watering hole for La Jollans.

Prospect Bar & Lounge is at 1028 Prospect Street. Call (858) 454-8092.

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