Up the coast Seth Baas (nephew of Padres owner John Moores) and his mom created Blanca, a new venue for north county diners. No view, no waves, but a contemporary, yet cozy restaurant with interesting food and good service. The dining room features booths, tables and banquettes in understated soothing monochromatic colors. With Chef Wade Hageman’s innovative use of ingredients, it’s a place I suspect will be busy all the time.

Here you’ll find a sofa-lined lounge, bar stools worth sitting on for drinks as you munch on a bowl of Wisconsin heirloom black popcorn dusted with Parmesan, toasted black pepper and a hint of truffle oil. Now, before you flip over the idea of anything over and above Orville Redenbacher’s microwavable popcorn, you really have to try this unassuming yet addictive dish. The black kernels pop white and work well with a glass of bubbly.

A sensational Oregon morel soup comes richly finished with leeks, slow cooked until they melt, and crème fraiche (a French version of sour cream). For the more adventurous, wild king salmon tartare (raw and finely chopped) comes topped with a tiny quail egg you mix in with dill oil and eat with brioche toast points. Lounge food prices from $6 to $22, and appetizer prices $11 to $25. Open at 5 p.m., 437 S. Highway 101, Solana Beach, 858-792-0072. First noted in San Diego City Beat, June 2006.

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