Cooks Confab is San Diego’s answer to a gourmet dinner group, only its members are all well-known restaurant chefs. Members include Jeff Jackson, Nathan Coulon, Brian Malarkey, Brian Sinnott, Jack Fisher, Olivier Boiteau and for the moment, only one woman chef, Katie Grebow—Amy DiBiase may soon join her on the roster. This week, eight members of the group presented a nine-course dinner with wines paired by Eno wine director, Ted Glennon. at 1500 Ocean that featured sustainable seafood. Along with the seafood creations, the finale of Jack Fisher‘s light, lemony olive oil parfait with strawberry caviar and rhubarb (served not in a glass, but plated as a piece of cake) made me nearly lick the plate.
Stations for the reception featured five of the chefs and one was Brian Malarkey’s duo of oysters, with, shockingly “Santa Monica Farmers Market Strawberries” along with a Champagne mignonette. A quick look at Malarkey’s contribution to the January truffle dinner included produce from specific farms north of Los Angeles. Buzz does wonder why Malarkey doesn’t support the local farmers who grow produce nearer to Oceanaire. The Confab’s next dinner is Meat on June 7 at Nine-Ten, hosted by chef Jason Knibb.
At a media dinner a few weeks ago, Nathan Coulon unveiled his new menu for Quarter KItchen at Ivy Hotel. It’s a menu that encourages sharing and features “American favorites, seasoned with fresh ideas.” Coulon’s food is approachable, reflects his classical training and is at a realistic price point for these trying times. His love of goat cheese was evident in the three starters he chose–roasted beet, avocado and creamy goat cheese ($12), spinach and prosciutto salad with fresh goat cheese ($11) and aged French coat cheese on a housemade brioche ($15). There’s the cook-your-own on a hot stone Japanese Kobe beef–thin slices at $20 per ounce, minimum three ounce order. Buzz doesn’t swoon over Kobe beef at any price, but Coulon’s prime Cabernet braised short ribs with mashed Yukon’s and a hint of star anise in the red wine reduction ($28) make for a worthy dish. A simple grilled pork loin appeared with cauliflower gratin and sensational cumin braised apples and red cabbage ($27). The kitchen and restaurant seem more at ease with Coulon’s steady hand than with his predessor, Damon Gordon.