San Diego’s restaurant scene loses one of its best and most creative chefs. Riko Bartolome, owner-chef of award winning Asia-Vous in Escondido will take his toque and family to Maui in October. The restaurant closed July 31 with a final dinner of Bartolome’s “greatest hits” that included a feather-light goat cheese tempura with a dice of roasted beets, cherry tomatoes and balsamic “caramel” (so yummy the balsamic, I nearly licked the plate), a scallop on saffron flavored potato risotto with a sprinkle of peas that made the plate as appealing to the eye as it was to the taste buds and a melt-in-your mouth kurobuta pork confit with croutons and fresh stonefruit.
Bartolome whose Asian fusion dishes wow everyone from Carolyn Bates at Gourmet magazine to our local reviewers, couldn’t get San Diego’s eaters to venture out of the safe confines of mostly mediocre food and service in this county to support innovation and spot-on service. And so, a terrific chef moves on to wow the island where he once cooked at the Grand Hyatt Wailea and in time expects deja-vu for Asia-Vous in Hawaii. Buzz wishes the Bartolome family the best in their life’s newest chapter.