Should you find yourself in Sacramento’s downtown area, be sure to try Red Lotus Kitchen & Bar for some of their well-presented, unique and seriously good dim sum on their dinner menu. The fresh water eel and shrimp dumplings with cilantro and pistachio puree, tobiko and truffle oil ($8) might sound odd together but the flavors were subtle, yet flavorful and blended well for each luscious mouthful. Two roughly 3 or 4 inch beef marrow bones split lengthwise, delicately spiced with five-spice powder, and roasted– unusual, rich and tasty ($11)–and six perfect shrimp dumplings (har gow) with house-made XO sauce ($7) easily stand high above run- of- the- mill har gow. Family style portions are generous, service gracious and attentive, and you can sit and eat at the lively horseshoe shaped bar as well. 2718 J Street, Sacramento, 916-231-0961, open from 3pm.
Also downtown, at 11th and K Street, in the area known as Cathedral Square, Ambrosia Cafe & Catering does a fine job with breakfasts such as crème brulee french toast ($4.95) or grilled jambon & gruyere croissant ($4.50), lunches that include salads, house plates and panini, and desserts from owner and pastry chef, Patricia Murakami as well as Nicole Becker who now handles most of the desserts and pastries. Open now for desserts after the theater or a long day jawing with politicians a few blocks away Thursday to Saturday from 7pm to midnight. 1030 K Street, Sacramento, 916-444-8129, Open 6:30am to 5pm Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8am to 3pm.
Night owls who love cooking and television shopping, note that the Home Shopping Network (HSN) will feature a weekend of cooking related items from world-renowned chefs, including Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Padma Lakshmi, Ken Hom and others. Check out the schedule for HSN Cooks Spring Weekend Event presented by Bon Appétit on March 26-27.
Bernard Guillas is quite the chef. Known as one of San Diego’s top toques (executive chef at The Marine Room) he garners worldwide recognition that includes his recent induction into the very prestigious Maitres Cuisiniers de France, IACP nominations in two categories for his Two Chefs One World cookbook, tireless teaching at Macy’s Home Store and lots more. This week he appears on the Today Show with a cooking segment that airs Wednesday, March 23 at 10:40am with Kathie Lee Gifford.
On the move: Ted Glennon leaves 1500 Ocean and Eno at the Hotel Del Coronado for a new venture in Monterey, near Pebble Beach. Coastal Luxury Management will soon open Restaurant 1833 in the building that originally housed Stokes Restaurant & Bar. Glennon will direct the wine program.
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.
The latest eatery to grace the village of Point Loma is the terrific Supannee House of Thai in the strip mall at Shelter Island Drive and Scott Street. Buzz has been there three times in the past week…and they just opened. The menu features everything from soups to Thai sausage ($7.50) and summer rolls ($7), warm glass noodle salad ($8) and many house specials including spicy squid with small round Thai eggplant, green peppercorns, chili and basil ($10.50). The food is authentic, fresh, flavorful and well (not overly) spiced so that the ingredients meld yet are not overpowered by each other. It’s a tiny space, just 24 seats so if you’re in a hurry, call ahead for takeout. Open for lunch from 11am to 3pm and dinner from 5pm to 9pm. 2907 Shelter Island Drive, 3110, 619-795-8424. Closed Sunday.
While you’re waiting for a take out at Supannee, drop in next door to The Wine Pub for a glass of red, white or micro brew.
Here’s a place Buzz would take anyone looking for interesting sandwiches, omelettes, crepes, pancakes, French toast, and more. Cafe 21 recently opened a second location in the Gaslamp and the menu reflects a refreshing take on breakfast dishes that are served all day. The terrific version of eggs Benedict involves no bread or typical English muffin. Instead a thick pancake of potato mixed with sweet corn and shrimp or another with grilled wild salmon and potato, rice and zucchini or chicken curry. The cakes are topped with poached eggs and the various combos are satisfying and delicious ($13). Ingredients are locally sourced, breads and pastas made from scratch, and the dishes reflect the Azerbaiijan roots of Layla and Alex, the husband and wife owners. Service is gracious but can be a bit slower than expected. 750 Fifth Ave. 619.795.0721 Open daily 8am to 3pm, (dinner when their liquor license arrives) and 2736 Adams Ave., 619.640.2121, Open daily 8am to 3pm, 5pm to 9pm.
Bo-beau kitchen + bar gets everyone’s attention because it’s the latest Cohn venue housed in the redone Thee Bungalow in Ocean Beach. If you like the French-inspired casual bistro interiors of Philippe Beltran (Vagabond and Bleu Boheme), you’ll find his third variation here where the many rooms are filled with all things old French. Beltran’s got a whimsical sense of decorating humor: Sit in the noisy bar and look up at the ceiling where you’ll see a huge canvas painting of a woman in white laying on a bed, legs seductively apart–Buzz hears the piece depicts a French prostitute. Love the huge mirror on the far wall of the bar.
Two visits gave us hits and misses with the food that left us wondering how much young chef Katherine Humphus (trained in Paris) gets to assert her mark on the menu. One imagines it can be difficult especially when the Cohn group of restaurants is known for less than stellar food that aims to please a tourist/convention diner. Of the hits, try the very classic and good onion soup ($7) or the calamari fritti (watch the cherry pepper pieces that are spicy hot and fried with the tender squid that includes tentacles) that come with a zippy tomato/caper dipping sauce that could be the base for caponata ($9.50). Six escargots stay in the shell bathed in butter and garlic, a classic preparation though more garlic would give it a boost of flavor ($10.50)
Not impressed with the bland chicken fricassee with Brussels sprouts that needed more mustard (or Champagne) as the sauce promised ($17). Flatbreads are more like pizza, thick crusted and baked as a rectangle, cut in fingers–ours touted chorizo and Serrano ham…flavors that got lost with the cheese and marinara sauce ($12). An appetizer featuring crispy Brussels sprouts, pancetta, Parmesan with a balsamic glaze came with very al dente and not so crispy sprouts ($7). And some (though not Buzz) like the cute idea for serving–in a brown paper bag– Sadie Rose sliced bread for the table. Dinner from 4pm, 4996 W. Point Loma Blvd., Ocean Beach, 619-224-2884.
Expect the action to pick up in the sleepy little village of Point Loma with the addition of Harbor Town (as the ABC posting says) in the old Roseville space on Rosecrans at Canon.
A block away on Scott at Canon in the former La Scala spot, Lighthouse Bar and Grill opens as soon as they get their approved liquor license as noted here. Expect the menu to have steaks, burgers, sandwiches, bar food and a well-priced, not fancy menu, all with an Italian flair. Both new venues will certainly give the locals other choices other than Old Venice (where the bar stools are arguably the most uncomfortable seats anywhere).
Other choices close by on North Harbor Drive include Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern where you can sit and sip inside or out with a perfect view of the dock and the yachts. In the same complex Pizza Nova pleases with the same view and good pizza and drinks.
In Fashion Valley Mall, look for Stacked to open summer 2011. They will occupy the Uno space and customers will be able to custom build (stack) everything from burgers to pizzas using tableside IPads with proprietary technology. The brains behind this unique concept also created BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Love Boat Sushi expands from North County to the spot once held by Smith & Hawken. And sadly the Bing Crosby space waits for litigation issues to resolve.
Coronado now has its own store featuring olive oils and more. Check out Coronado Taste of Oils where you will find everything from oils and vinegars to pastas and pesto. 954 Orange Avenue, Coronado, 619-522-0098.
Knight Salumi Company has closed as reported by Caron Golden of San Diego Foodstuff. No details as the phone is disconnected.
UPDATE: More Buzz about the Roseville space:…We’re hearing The Waterfront (on Kettner) wants it–and a full liquor license–and will redo the restaurant with a different name, but same Waterfront concept.
Terra in Hillcrest will close and move to 7091 El Cajon Boulevard in a stand alone former Italian restaurant at 71st and El Cajon Boulevard. They will open the first week in April. In the meantime, you can enjoy a Valentine’s dinner at the current location, for just $59 plus tax and tip. Their final “hoorah” party as Rossman put it in his email blast will be March 18. 3900 Vermont St., San Diego, 619.293.7088.
Other places we’ve been wondering about: Mia Francesca’s in Little Italy, beset by construction issues, finally forging ahead again. Their website says they expect to open Little Italy in May and in August a second location in Del Mar Highlands Town Center. 1655 India Street, San Diego, 619-237-9606 and 12955 El Camino Real, G-4, San Diego.
Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar has their liquor license application posted. We should soon be seeing some good barbecue at 441 Washington and Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest.
Finally, should anyone want to buy the restaurant as well as the real estate of Lamont Street Grill is for sale, complete with a type 47 liquor license and two rental units for $1,495,000. For more information: 858-764-4223.
We’re hearing the Point Loma former site of Roseville (closed in August, 2010), might become a fun casual sports bar concept. We say might since the landlords seems to be dragging their feet to get the place rented…or return phone calls from the potential lessee.
Surprise your Valentine with a special dinner in the dark at the US Grant Hotel. Experience a three-course dinner from February 11 to 14 presented by Opaque Dining. Your sense of taste, smell, touch and sound will be heightened as you eat in a totally dark dining room served by blind or visually impaired individuals trained to serve in the dark. The cost for the prix fixe dinner menu is $99 (+tax)/person. Drinks and tip are not included in the ticket price. Tickets for this event must be pre-purchased and are available online at www.darkdining.com.
If you’d rather stay in and have dinner delivered (no, not pizza), but a menu that is aphrodisiac centric, check out Dining Details. Just think, no worries about drinking and driving…you can toast your honey in the privacy of your own home.
Arterra finally has a new executive chef, Tony Miller who comes from the Ritz Carlton Kapalua, Latitude 41 in Columbus and Wailea Beach Marriott Resort. He kicks off his new menu (and redone dining room) on February 17th from 5:30pm to 8pm with Taste of Arterra where you can sample signature dishes like lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, Moroccan braised beef short rib and avocado butter cake with almond crunch. The event is free with a $10 donation per guest to Feeding America San Diego’s Farm2Kids program. Advance reservations required at Opentable or directly at 858.369.6032.
Seems like La Jolla is picking up with the soon-to-open WeOlive. From the website it looks to have quite an impressive selection of California oils, as well as other olive products including soaps, mustards and tapenades. Opens about February 1 at 1158 Prospect, La Jolla.
Those of you who wonder what the next food craze could be need only look to San Francisco’s well-known Tartine Bakery & Cafe and its sister Bar Tartine where new chef Nick Balla arrives March 1. He and Tartine owners Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt will take the food and the breads to Eastern and Central Europe according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Note also that many other San Francisco restaurants are changing menus to explore this mostly untapped culinary area. Wonder if San Diego restaurants (and their patrons) would ever embrace the modern versions of goulash and a fabulous house made rye bread.
Happy New Year to you all. Already, just a few weeks into January, we find optimism in San Diego with new restaurants:
**Bayu’s Authentic Ethiopian Cuisine that just opened in Hillcrest on University between Fifth and Sixth.
**La Jolla gets sweeter by the day with the addition of Sprinkles–a cupcake place in the Whole Foods shopping center on Noble. Then there’s Cups that opened last year downtown on Girard–should you want dessert after your Smashburger or Burger Lounge lunch. Notable that Cups features vegan as well as gluten free cupcakes.
**How’s this for a restaurant name? Revolver. It is in the same place as Voyeur at 755 Fifth Avenue, San Diego. The Voyeur chef is Kari Rich who according to a media invite, created a menu that “revolves around seasonal, local, & sustainable food.” Too bad the logo on the invite is a revolver. Revolver…sounds like a gun store.
**Bing Crosby’s closes at Fashion Valley. Since their website is not online, this is the best explanation of the fairly sudden closure of the restaurant chain
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