Buzz is back after a much needed hiatus. So here we go with the latest in San Diego’s ever growing food scene.
Notable is the explosion of new restaurants in Little Italy, with the latest additions at Beech Street and Kettner Boulevard in the 22 story Ariel Suites luxury apartments.
Baja’s celebrity chef Javier Plascencia secured the corner ground and balcony level (balcony with views of the bay and city), while Pan Bon comes from Italy to open their first US outpost, with a bakery and fine dining spot in the bi-level space. Should anyone want to cook at home, Hanson Market will occupy a large space for organic and natural foods. Don’t expect to be eating too soon as it will likely be some months before the spots open for business.
Also on Kettner, a bit north between Juniper and Ivy Streets is one of the hottest new places: Juniper & Ivy featuring some very good and innovative food from Atlanta’s celebrity chef, Richard Blais.
For a perfect espresso or cold brewed coffee in a tranquil setting on north India Street is James Coffee. The coffee bar is in Vi-Star, a unique large space, filled with unique gifts for babies, dogs, people and homes. You can browse as you sip or sit and eat a very light, classic quiche Lorraine supplied by a local chef named Mark. 2355 India St. San Diego, coffee Monday to Friday, 7am to 4pm and weekends 8am to 4pm.
At the Hotel Del Coronado’s signature restaurant, 1500 Ocean, the search for a new chef de cuisine is finally over with the arrival of RobertHohmann who worked with Thomas Keller, Mario Batali and most recently in Napa at Michael Chiarello’s famed Bottega. Expect Hohmann’s new menu to debut October 1, using Southland Coastal ingredients to create contemporary Mediterranean dishes that highlight the flavors of Italy, France and Morocco.
Those of you who miss chef Chad White (ex of Gabardine and Sea Rocket Bistro), his toque landed in Golden HIll at Counterpoint. The menu for this wine bar says “food for people” and “wine for people” (who else besides people?), and features an eclectic collection of items from fried bologna and cheese on white bread and plum barbecued tofu to a cheeseburger and rabbit confit. We’ll see what changes chef White creates in the next few weeks and months.
In Mission Hills, Brooklyn Girl Eatery‘s opening chef, Tyler Thrasher moves on and sous chef Colin Murray takes over the kitchen duties.
In Kensington, a “uber fun, cool and eclectic” new wine bar , Village Vino, opens (softly) June 28 at the corner of Adams Avenue and Kensington Drive in the same block as the Ken Theater and Kensington Grill. Owner Rita Pirkl will feature wines from around the world from small producers, many family run. There will be classes too. Buzz has seen the space and it offers all of the fun and none of the pretense of so many other wine bars in this town (no sofas either!). 4095 Adams Ave., 619-546-8466, open Sunday to Thursday 11am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday until midnight, closed Monday.
If you’re looking for a restaurant to buy, here are two you might be interested in: Avenue 5 Restaurant and Bar in Bankers Hill is on the block as is City Deli in Hillcrest. For additional information, 858-792-5521.
More Malarkey for his minions: The empire spreads to Scottsdale with a second Searsucker for those hungry “zonies; waived c orkage Tuesdays and half off selected bottles at all five venues; and happy hour arrives at Burlap from 4 to 6pm. Growing pains at the three-month-old Gabardine where chef Chad White is out and Malarkey is in with a pared down menu (unfortunately not yet posted online) and appetizers that include mac n’ cheese, shishito peppers and fries (they were sides before). Is Malarkey trying too hard here with a new brunch hook at Gabardine? Disco? Kind of odd for this old Point Loma neighborhood.
Herringbone just opened in La Jolla, making it the fifth in the fabric named restaurants. If you love noisy, be-there-be-seen places, you’ll be right at home here as you watch nimble wait staff juggle food and drinks around a packed bar and 100-year-old olive trees planted inside the huge ex-warehouse space. Expect a pricey dinner meal with most mains in the high $20’s and starters in the high teens.
And a final thought on Malarkey: Is the expansion too fast and furious given his turnover of chefs (Burlap and Gabardine)? Gabardine certainly needed more thought when it opened (and still may) as the elements of decor, dark corners at the bar, noise and a mish mash of a menu were not cohesive for the four times I visited. (The place is a mile from my home.) Time will tell if he can get the locals hooked.
Brian Malarkey did the Today Show, here’s the clip. It’s a tough gig when you’re upstaged by a producer’s birthday.
Paris Driggers, not a chef, but a wine guy, left Winesellar & Brasserie to resume his business as a broker selling wines to restaurants and wine stores. He started a small winery called Forgotten Barrel (using wines from well-known Napa vineyards) and sells under the label Sika Wine. For more information: 858-342-0298.
Aaron Martinez, chef de cuisine at 1500 Ocean at the Hotel Del Coronado just left for a position in northern California. San Francisco diners will find him at the Michelin two-star Coi–an opportunity he just couldn’t pass up.
Anthony Sinsay last week left Harney Sushi after a good three year stint.
Show your love with a yummy chocolate bread teddy bear from Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe in Liberty Station. Last minute orders for a heart shaped baguette or a teddy bear can be made by calling 619-224-4344 or at the cafe, 2750 Dewey Road at Old Historic Decatur.
Many restaurants offer special menus available in the next few days so you can avoid the crush of the 14th. Check out Wine Vault & Bistro‘s 5-course Valentine’s dinner for $59.50 plus tax and gratuity includes all five courses and all five wines. Menu includes fried oysters, chicken, short rib and of course chocolate, bubbles and California wines. For reservations: (619) 295-3939.
Get a bottle of Champagne from your favorite wine merchant. One of my go- to places: The Third Corner where the selection is large and the staff knowledgeable. In Mira Mesa, don’t forget Winesellar & Brasserie for an equally good selection of libations.
Chocolate goes with Champagne: Eclipse Chocolat makes unique confections in North Park, while David Bacco creates an unusual selection of award winning delicacies. Call 888-560-5535 to order or find a few locations to purchase his chocolates.
It’s summer vacation so Buzz will take some time to play and tackle new projects while occasionally posting throughout the next few months. Expect to see Buzz pushing beyond the San Diego boundaries to bring you food and travel news to inspire the wanderlust in all of us…from Los Angeles and New York to Paris and Prague (and beyond). But first, news from San Diego:
Red Velvet Wine Bar in Little Italy closes tomorrow Saturday (as noted by a Keli Dailey tweet). To answer Dailey’s question of “why”, Buzz talked with wine director Kyle Showen today to get the answer. Bottom line: Owner Wendy Segal wants time off and isn’t ready to recalibrate the staff as Kyle is moving to San Francisco where Katie Brookshire (opening wine director) now works. Terrific chef Luke Johnson will be missed as will the very contemporary and grown-up spot for interesting wines and well-paired food. We hope that Segal will not keep the place shuttered too long.
The Marine Room‘s dynamic duo Bernard Guillas (executive chef) and Ron Oliver (chef de cuisine) nabbed two big awards at the IACP gala last night in Austin, Texas. Their cookbook Flying Pans, Two Chefs, One World won the People’s Choice award along with best in the Chefs and Restaurants category (they beat chefs Rick Bayless and Michael Chiarello). Congrats to Bernard and Ron.
Now that the news is finally out about El Bizcocho’s new executive chef, Nicolas Bour (he’s been in the post for a few months) the Rancho Bernardo Inn will likely re concept the long running restaurant in the next few months for redesign and perhaps a name change to fit with Bour’s farm to table expertise. In May, he’ll be in Kentucky for a major Derby fundraiser.
La Playa Bistro will open a cafe as Buzz noted back before they opened. Owner Cindi Hoang said they expect to open the cafe late April or May. Look for take-out sandwiches and other easy to-go items, including gelato, smoothies and more for the lunch crowd that doesn’t have time for a sit down meal. Expect to see the crowded (and unsafe) intersection get a bit worse for noon time driving.
This just in…Talk about a great holiday gift for the novice or well-aged wine aficionado. A group of local San Diego wine masters have created a wine club that goes beyond all the others you may know about. My Cellar Master brings together the collective palates and knowledge of Eddie Osterland (America’s first master sommelier), Brian Donegan (advanced sommelier at Market) and Truly Fine Wine for a new wine club that offers more than just bottles arriving every month. Don’t want a club? Check out the themed wine tasting kits. Information is on the website or at (858) 270-WINE (9463).
Those of you who remember Jason Seibert (chef/owner of the closed Cafe Cerise) might want to catch up with him on Tuesday, December 7 from 6pm on. You’ll find him at the Stout Public House (site of Cafe Cerise) as he bids goodbye to San Diego for a position as executive sous chef at Eventi, a Kimpton hotel property in New York City.
Au Revoir Bistro finally opened in the old La Vache site in Hillcrest (Robinson and Fourth). This is the latest venture from the group that owns Arrivederci Ristorante among others in Hillcrest, North Park, La Jolla and Point Loma.
If you’re looking for unusual Italian and American small food and wine producer, Corti Brothers in Sacramento is worth checking out. Should you want Delamain Grande Champagne Cognac 1982, or panettone from two of Italy’s well-known bakeries, Loison and Bardi, or aged aceto balsamico, be sure to read the newsletters on the website. Owner Darrell Corti is renowned for his food and wine knowledge and this well-established family business has been around since 1947. 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95819, 800-509-3663 and the website for more information.
The release of Beaujolais Nouveau is a big deal in November and a couple of places will be celebrating its arrival Thursday, November 18. The Gamay grape stars in this wine and it is meant to be drunk within six months of bottling. Each year it’s released on the third Thursday of November – literally only weeks after it was still growing on the vine and because it is a light friendly wine, it’s a great reason to party!
At the Wine Vault & Bistro arrive anytime after 5:30 and enjoy a four-course Beaujolais Nouveau Family Style Menu for: $25 2010 Dupeuble Beaujolais Nouveau: $7 glass / $22 bottle. If you’re not on their mailing list, it’s worth it if you are interested in good wine dinners and tastings. For reservations: (619) 295-3939.
Euro Food Depot will celebrate on November 18 from 6pm to 10pm with wine, cheese, charcuterie and macarons. Four pours and food $30. For information: 858-452-9200.
Downtown, Bacchus Wine Market presents Beaujolais Nouveau and other first releases on Friday, November 19th (4pm to 8:30pm) and Saturday. November 20th (2pm to 8:30pm). Cost is $15 each day. For information: 619-236-0005.
LATE ADDITION: While we’re wining, The WineSellar & Brasserie, Paris Driggers is the new general manager and wine buyer. He’s been in the business for 15 years selling wines to top notch venues and brings a wealth of experience to the shop. Upstairs in the Brasserie chef Kevin Smith (who has worked in many of California’s top kitchens, including Patina in Los Angeles) is updating the menu. This gem of a store and restaurant is tucked away in an unlikely industrial park, just down the hill from Qualcomm and is worth a visit. 9550 Waples Street, (858) 450-9557.