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It’s that time of the year again when restaurants want to see you patronize them–especially if you’ve been wanting to try a new place.  San Diego Restaurant Week begins Sunday, September 19.  You can choose from 180 venues that offer three-course menu for either $20, $30 or $40, depending on the restaurant.  Check the website for all the information.

Saffron turns 25 in October.  There will be five days of fun and food from October 18 to 22 that includes a Pad Thai throw down with local celebrity chefs and media judges…Stay tuned for more information, or check out their website.

Porto Vista Hotel in Little Italy, now has Brent Calley as the executive chef for their Glass Door restaurant with a new menu to boot.  During restaurant week they will have a $19 three-course dinner…sounds like a good place to try and enjoy the view of the bay and the roof tops of Little Italy.





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Spoke to Chris Walsh who closed his Hillcrest restaurant, Bite, August 30.  The reason?  It’s the economy stupid…and it seems that area diners love to drink more than to eat–so even though his menu was well-priced and good, it just was not enough to keep people coming back.

He mentioned also a few facts that many diners  don’t realize when it comes to eating out:  Most restaurants top costs are:  Labor, then rent, food and all the other costs such as  license fees, utilities, etc.  Most diners also don’t factor into the price of a meal the ability of the chef to create and deliver dishes based on their expertise and training.  When asked what he will do, he replied, “I’ll get a job.”

In Point Loma, the long running La Scala Italian Restaurant at Scott and Canon, will soon become Lighthouse Grill a concept from Fabio Speziali (Pomodoro and others) and Antonio Mastellone (Arrivederci and others).  Whatever these two create, we know it will likely be a hit here in Point Loma as Pomodoro has taken off with solid Italian food, nothing fancy, but well-priced and always good in a cozy, bustling room (and enclosed patio).

Charlie’s Best Bread opens Labor Day weekend in the old Con Pane space.  One thing Buzz already knows from buying their challah at the Hillcrest Farmers Market is that it is more expensive and a much denser, less satisfying loaf than that of the artisan bakery, Con Pane, now in Liberty Station on Historic Decatur and Dewey Roads.  Buzz will give their breads and other menu items a try.

Back in April, Buzz reported on Point Loma’s  Dolphin Motel’s expansion of a steakhouse and then heard it would be a coffee shop.  Lately, nothing seems to be happening…as the restaurant seems to be stuck in the Coastal Commission’s review.



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Some observations from readers and Buzz…feel free to comment.

If you experience issues with your meal or service, please don’t wait til you leave or, as happened at Farm House Cafe, write an anonymous two page scorching letter about the scallop dish they ate.  Had Olivier Bioteau, the chef/owner been aware at the time of the meal, he could have replaced the errant dish and could have dealt with the diner at the moment.  By not expressing (nicely, by the way) the problem when it happens, everyone loses.  And, restaurants and their owners always like to hear good comments also. (Side note:  Farm House Cafe will be closed Labor Day weekend from Sunday dinner to reopen for dinner on Wednesday, September 8).

Shishito peppers seem to be the current darling of local chefs.  The summer pepper is small and thin-skinned, not really hot and usually served in Japanese restaurants as an appetizer (peppers flash fried in a tiny bit of oil and cooked to just barely scorch the skin, then served with sea salt or topped with bonito flakes).  Buzz ate them at Searsucker (called so over cleverly “no shoshiito schoos”)  and heard from a reader about them at Bali Hai.

Trader Joe’s now carries coconut water, a good mix of electrolytes, with no additives that Buzz can attest, tastes good.  It comes from the water of green coconuts and is considered to be quite a healthy drink.  If you’d like to buy fresh green coconuts and coconut trees, check out Florida Coconuts, a company that grows and ships the coconuts nationwide.

The New York Times Op-Ed piece, Math Lessons for Locovores is worth the read and certain to provoke discussion.  If you’ve not encountered an interesting site called Grist, it has a good vitural roundtable discussion addressing this Op-Ed story.

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**All three locations of The 3rd Corner (with the very cool redesigned website…) now offer happy hour from 3 to 6pm in the bar only, Tuesday through Saturday.  Note the three venues are closed on Monday.

**That venerable group of local chefs known as CooksConfab will host Camp Confab, a sleep-over at Susie’s Farm in Imperial Beach on September 11 and 12.  Dinner and breakfast the next morning will be prepared by many of the confab chefs.  And you will be able to participate in harvesting, cleaning and preparing the produce from the farm.  Sounds like a hoot with a host of activities that include guest appearances and tastings from such luminaries in their field as Gina Frieze from Venissimo Cheese, MIHO Gastgrotruck, and beers from Lost Abbey and master brewer Tomme Arthur and evening cocktails (after you help harvest) with mixologist Ian Ward of Snake Oil Cocktail Co. Lest you think it’s all veggies, the protein part of the meal is barbacoa of local goat and stick fire roasted local fish.  There’s lots more for the $225 per person. Reservations are limited and so, at 9am September 1, get on the CooksConfab website to register.  100% of the proceeds go to Slow Food Urban San Diego.

**Jeff Rossman, owner/chef of Terra Restaurant, a hidden gem in Hillcrest (on Vermont near the east side of  Trader Joe’s), has finished his cookbook, From Terra’s Table.  Just in time for a holiday gift, the book publishes in November and sells for $32.95 online and at bookstores.  The focus is on Jeff’s passion for local ingredients and the many farms and vendors that supply his restaurant.  You can receive a 20% discount as a foodbuzzsd reader when you buy the book online here and use the code foodbuzzsd20 .

**Gordy’s Bakery sounds yummy and a place Buzz needs to try as she travels the 5 back and forth to LA.  Just east off the freeway at Encinitas Boulevard in the Smart & Final center.  Owner Gordy is born and raised in Encinitas and had a wholesale bakery business years ago.  Sold the business and took a break and worked at the Running Shoes store and trained the track team at San Dieguito Academy.  He has now gone back to his love of baking and has opened a retail bakery in the previous Baskin-Robbins space.


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In the world of food, let’s face it, there’s a lot of junk, stuff that kids grow up on because their parents can’t figure out how to cook a simple breakfast, or in this particular case, can’t put bread in a toaster and then top it with any and everything from peanut butter and jelly to a fried egg and bacon.  Instead, they eat Pop-Tarts that are practically a faux food created 40 plus years ago by food giant Kellogg.  These sugary things that many consume for breakfast or snacks now have a brand store.  Yep, a store with everything Pop-Tart(ed).  Should you find yourself in New York’s Times Square, you can indulge a sugar craving at the first Pop-Tarts World store located at  128 West 42nd St.  The New York Times gives you the rest of the story.

Point Loma’s Roseville abruptly closed last week.  Various issues seem to be at the heart of the restaurant’s sudden turn.  We’re hearing that owner George Riffle is trying to work with the landlords but might possibly relocate the restaurant.  So, as with all things in life, it’s a fluid, changing situation.  Stay tuned.

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It may be early to think about school, but a group led by Alice Robertson and Caron Golden launched the second annual Food 4 Kids Backpack Program that provides food and backpacks for low income elementary kids at risk for hunger, especially on weekends.   NBC San Diego is their partner and they will donate the equivalent of the 7% cut First Giving takes so food4kids gets all the monies raised.

If you don’t want to donate money, then get to the August 21 Little Italy Mercato and donate neutral black or red backpacks (no logos, please) and kid-friendly non-perishable food. And there’s a raffle to boot on Saturday with swell items.

Or you can eat  at more than 40 restaurants this month and choose the “Dollar a Dish” item that features a specific dish for which the restaurant  will donate $1 every time it is ordered during the month. For a list of the restaurants and their dishes, go to San Diego Foodstuff.

Buzz donated…how about you?

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Popped into Brian Malarkey’s latest invention, Searsucker, on the corner of Fifth and Market.  With it’s open ceiling, large windows, wood and old brick wall, the place has the feel of an airy, comfortable big country home.  There are sofas where you can eat and drink.  The bar is to the right of the entrance…and aside from backless bar stools and no purse hooks (lots of purses on the floor),  it’s perfect for sipping and munching.

The menu is clever, albeit almost too clever and divided into Bites, Smalls, Greens, Ocean, Ranch, Farm, And…. Buzz popped in this week for a drink and a few Bites that included the simple preparation of  quickly seared and lightly glazed shishito peppers (a staple usually reserved for Japanese restaurants)  topped with a bit of citrus zest ($5) and the duck fat garlic fries with a tomato jam and tiny flecks of bacon and parsley ($6).  In  Smalls  you’ll find spicy Baja shrimp and bacon grits ($12)–the Baja refers to the shrimp’s source, the spicy comes from a hearty Cajun spice blend and the rich and creamy grits make a perfect bed for the five medium-size, perfectly cooked shrimp.  Some of the other menu items include farm bird lollipops and bleu fondue ($8) (Malarkey’s version of buffalo wings), or eggs and bacon ($) (four ounces of pork belly topped with an egg) and lots more such as cheek with goat cheese dumpling ($23) and local Baja scallops, foie gras and figs ($28).

It’s a fun place with good people watching, especially if you sit at the bar or along the high tops that edge the windows.  Be prepared for a $15 valet parking fee.  Open 5pm for drinks and Bites and 6pm for dinner,  611 Fifth Avenue at Market, 619-233-7327.

If you’ve not tried Saffron’s monthly Thai street food extravaganza, you must this Saturday, August 7.   Served from 11 am to 2pm on the patio, you can try these typical foods.  This month a Buzz favorite (that used to be on the regular menu) will be available:  Lao sausage (home made spicy chicken sausage grilled and served with green papaya salad ($5.50).  Try it along with an ear of grilled local corn lathered with grated coconut and coconut cream ($2) or two Thai coconut macaroons ($1.50).  3731 B India Street at Washington, 619-574-7734.

Little Italy will soon be home to a Chicago transplant–Francesca’s takes over in the former Zagarella and Cefalu spaces, at 1655 India Street, about 5,000 square feet on a ten year lease valued at just over $2 million.

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Red Leight isn’t a district but is a cleverly named and bottled Rosé.   The vineyards are in Malibu on 37 acres  and they have been producing since 2006.  Howard Leight created Red Leight which is under the Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards label that produces award-winning Cabs along with a Syrah and Merlot.  Buzz was lucky enough to taste the Rosé and Syrah along with San Diego’s top sommeliers, wine directors and distributors–and the wines are notable.  You can purchase online at their website and soon (we hope) will have distribution here.

Just opened, Sessions Public, an odd name for a new contemporary place sandwiched next to the retro Catalina Bar at Voltaire and Catalina.  The tavern style food is good and if the Cat Bar (as the locals refer to it) is too retro, the restaurant’s  long skinny contemporary room features  a full bar to go with the eclectic yet approachable food.  There’s a mystery consulting chef who created the menu that includes an additive bowl of tender crispy chicken oysters ($9), duck confit with an Asian flair of udon noodles ($17),  Nueske bacon tempura lollipops ($8),  short rib sliders ($11) and lobster-scallop cioppino ($20). Happily, most of the menu is $15 and under.  Four of us feasted well though we weren’t impressed with the miniscule serving of Serrano ham and artisan bread ($6).

Buzz wonders if the mysterious consulting chef at Sessions Public  could be Jason Maitland who had been at Arterra for ages…until the axe fell on him and others of the dining management team.  Maitland, is  teaming up with Jerome Astolfi who just left the front of the house at Market Restaurant + Bar in Del Mar to become the general manager at Flavor.  They will open late summer in the old Epazote Steakhouse in Del Mar Plaza.


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Charlie’s Best Bread’s new location is the former Con Pane space in Point Loma.  Con Pane, for those of you who missed it, is now in a spacious new space at Dewey and Historic Decatur Streets (in the same  building complex as Ace Hardware, Tin Fish and Point Loma Sports Bar) with lots and lots and lots of free parking.  It’s a short walk to the park if you want a place to relax with a coffee, sandwich or just a slice of artisan bread.

The just renovated Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant in Old Town San Diego  State Park is destined to be a hit.  Most will know the spot as the former Casa Bandini restaurant.  But oh what a cool place it is now with a second floor of ten hotel rooms and some familiar faces to welcome you for drinks and food.  The proprietor is Joseph Melluso well-known for his Tin Fish restaurants in San Diego and around the country, the chef is Amy DiBiase formerly of Roseville and bar goers will find  Sheila Tracy mixing drinks.  The entire venue is set in the 1870’s, complete with period costumes for the staff and victuals that reflect a modern take on those from earlier times.

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Chef Amy DiBiase has landed at the soon-to-open historic Cosmopolitan Restaurant (the old Casa Bandini) in Old Town.  The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner and opens at the end of the month.

Newlyweds Wade Hageman and his wife Kristi open their Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizzeria on Friday, June 18 at 5pm.  897 So. Coast Hwy 101, Ste. 102, Encinitas, Ca 92024, (760) 634-7671.

Maria Hunt, ex U-T food writer/critic has relocated to the San Francisco area.

The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego has a new executive chef.  Jon Eyer joins the property with skills honed at the prestigious Westin La Paloma in Tucson as well as the Westin on Hilton Head Island.