The almost open Setai San Diego made a name change December 22, to Sè San Diego. The Asian word Sè loosely translates to color, quality, sensuality and physical attraction which the owners felt better defines the hotel and separates it from its sister Setai in Miami (owned by Lehman Brothers). The idea is to brand the hotel and future properties in other cities (think Sè Las Vegas and you get the idea). The hotel is in its soft opening and its signature restaurant Suite & Tender Bar, Lounge & Restaurant (a cute play on words, but will you think steak?) hopes to be open by Sunday, December 28. Christopher Lee, from New York where he garnered two Michelin stars for Gilt, is the consulting chef and Bill Boyle is the executive chef for the mostly steak, raw bar and seafood menu. 1047 Fifth Ave., San Diego., 619-515-3000.
Addison, the over-the-top restaurant at The Grand Del Mar recently hosted a lovely media holiday party. The restaurant just became San Diego’s first and only recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award. Executive chef William Bradley (who is getting married next September) and master sommelier Jesse Rodriguez were on hand to meet and greet. Locavores may not rave about Bradley’s use of Iranian caviar even though he feels it’s the best. I wonder, however, when it is served with chopped egg, onion and other diversions, as it was at the party, can one really detect the delicate quality of the eggs? On the wine side, Rodriguez created some wonderful house blends–ones that he has traveled the world to make (with top producers) especially for the restaurant. Addison’s service, as well, is worth the trip and the setting, especially at night, makes a lovely diversion from the hectic daily grind. 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, 858-314-1900.
More holiday cheer:
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe celebrates its history with a new 200 page cookbook that features the culinary talent of executive chef John Beriker. Written by Ranch & Coast’s Food Editor, Maria Desiderata Montana, the book includes many of the Inn’s famous dishes, all with photos to whet your appetite. Sounds like a perfect gift and it can be ordered online from the Inn starting December 18, for $29.95. For more information: 858-756-1131.
Ring in the New Year with dinner at Cafe Chloe. Two seatings: 6pm seating features five courses for $65 and the 9:30pm includes six courses and a Champagne toast for $85. Weekdays, they offer their Four, Five Six menu from 4pm to 6pm with appetizers and a small selection of wine and beer at $4, $5 and $6. 721 Ninth Avenue, 619-232-3242.
Over in North Park, Sea Rocket Bistro, has a three-course New Year’s Eve dinner for $25! Draft beers will be $3 and Champagne will be served at midnight. You’ll be able to see New Year’s celebrations around the world on their large screen tv. 3382 30th Avenue, 619-255-7049.
Wine Vault & Bistro brings in the New Year with two seatings: 4:15pm starts the Champagne reception for the 5pm seating ($65) and the later one begins at 8:30pm with the reception and dinner at 9pm ($95). For reservations and information: 619-295-3535.
Don’t forget if you have a favorite place, check with them to see what dining options they may have for the holidays.
Addison at The Grand Del Mar, the latest Doug Manchester creation just off Highway 56, is quite simply, unlike any property here in San Diego. Massive in scale, the stand alone restaurant almost feels like a lavish hotel with its high and ornate ceilings, intricate stone and woodwork, archways, porticos and views of the golf course. Named after a 1920’s Florida architect, Addison Mizner, the restaurant and its decor encompass much of Mizner’s work in Florida according to a book on Florida architecture given to the media. Buzz does wonder what the big deal is with Florida architecture in southern California…how did “Papa” Manchester become so entralled with Addison Mizner?
While we’ve not yet had a meal there, the menu is short as the restaurant gets up to speed with five entrees and five pre courses ranging in price from $14 to $46 and a six course tasting menu for $95. Some menu items: prawns with lemon-lime jam, white nectarines and sweet garlic confit, and bass with bacon-lobster fricassee, arugula and preserved lemon.
Buzz loved the staff who are trained in the European style of attentiveness and knowledge without being intrusive to the diner. The wine selection of nearly 2000 bottles is run by sommelier Jesse Rodriguez who arrived fresh from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry. Management’s attention to details was noteworthy though the simplicity of the three page menu was marred by three glaring typos that we trust have been corrected. Addison, 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, 858-314-1900, Dinner only, Wednesday through Sunday.
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.
There is something very cool about sitting on the heated patio and hearing the ocean waves at 1500 Ocean in the historic Hotel Del Coronado. The restaurant’s food and the entire experience make this classic beach resort hotel a great destination. Free valet parking for the restaurant is a plus. From the valet, walk along the outside path facing the ocean where you are at once gazing at the sand and sea, swaying palm trees and people having a good time.
From the pathway to the entrance you’ll find an outdoor fireplace and tables for drinks, then the heated patio where I like to sit to watch the sunset and hear the surf. Inside, the restaurant occupies the redone space of the former very formal Prince of Wales Room. And redone it is, in contemporary, simple beige and brown with wood accents, seating with a good mix of tables, booths and banquettes and a bar area at the back of the room with a lit sunset on the wall. Gone are the days of coat and tie for men, as anything goes. On my visits most men were casually dressed in sport shirts.
I confess that I came to know the cooking of Chef de Cuisine Jason Shaeffer when he was at the original Laurel Restaurant & Bar. After a few years cooking in New York, he returned to San Diego and I was delighted to see him at 1500 Ocean. Local purveyors and farmers from Santa Barbara to Mexico supply the seasonal ingredients for Shaeffer’s classic–with a twist–menu. A couple of my favorites: Gnudi (fresh ricotta dumplings) with fresh peas and morels, barely sauced with the mushroom juices, together make an outstanding appetizer. Yellowtail, cured with lime and honey, comes with avocado mousse, shaved jicama and radish and a sweet jalapeno jelly all melding into mouthfuls of subtle flavors and textures; the fish not overpowered by the other flavors. A childhood favorite, toad in the hole, comes to life with an organic egg cooked with its yolk still runny, in the hole of a slice of rich, buttery brioche (bread), surrounded by mushrooms and asparagus tips and some unfortunately soggy hash browns under the bread. It’s a fabulous dish (without the potatoes).
Picky kids (adults, too) will appreciate the classic side dish of mac-n-cheese with spiral pasta and aged cheddar, nothing frou frou here. Finish the evening with a stroll nearby on the ocean boardwalk—it’s spectacular. Appetizers from $12 to $20, Entrees from TK to TK. Dinner only from 5:30 p.m., 1500 Ocean Avenue, Coronado, 619-522-8490, www.hoteldel.com.First noted, June 2006.
The Grand Del Mar, located just off Highway 56 is hotel magnate Doug Manchester’s latest venture. Due to open September 2006 it features a restaurant called Addison, named after Addison Mizner, a 20th century architect known for his fanciful Mediterranean styled designs in Palm Beach and Boca Raton. According to the public relations info, the restaurant will feature photos and other memorabilia from Mizner’s life, in Florida, though he was born in northern California in 1872.
That Mizner’s designs inspired The Grand Del Mar is one thing, but name a restaurant after him? Interesting concept considering we’re in southern California. Don’t expect Florida cuisine however, as Executive chef William Bradley’s menu will feature, what else, California fresh ingredients in Mediterranean style dishes…to complement the hotel’s Florida resort architecture.