GABARDINE UPDATE: As of June 14, Brian Malarkey’s Point Loma restaurant: Chef Chad White and Malarkey have parted ways. Malarkey will be at in the kitchen–perhaps to stay closer to home when he moves here this summer? (See post below and his email note to Gabardine patrons.)
Buzz took a hiatus from writing to host a gaggle of overseas friends passing through San Diego. Now it’s time to get things revved up with my recent observations while dining in San Diego’s eclectic restaurants.
A few weeks ago at The Shores I dined with a Parisian couple that I had only met that day (friends of friends) and we ordered a “half bottle” of Domaine Carneros sparkling wine ($31, glass $15). (Note the online menu still shows NV J. Brut Cuvee 20, Sonoma, CA). What a surprise when the Carneros arrived in a carafe, poured into glasses at the table by our server. Yep, a carafe, not a special carafe, just a regular wine carafe. We were stunned–everyone too polite to say a word.
To be fair, you’ll find these words on the wine list: “*Our HALF BOTTLES are better than a half bottle!! It is 2-1/2 glasses per carafe! Perfect if you want more than a glass and less than a bottle.” But usually carafes are for red and white wines. One doesn’t expect bubbles in a carafe, especially in a place where the sommelier is studying to become a master sommelier.
My curiosity got the best of me to learn more about serving bubbles in a carafe. I checked with Parisian friends who pour (and drink) Champagne nearly daily–they were not familiar with such service–and online I found a video showing Michel Drappier decanting his vintage Champagne into his specially made chilled decanter. Charles Heidsieck also weighs in on the subject, noting that Riedel makes a uniquely designed decanter for vintage Champagne.
For The Shores “offering the best in neighborhood American cuisine” with unobstructed ocean views (including kayakers, surfers and marine life) carafe service for sparkling wine “half bottle” is an affectation that doesn’t do justice to the customer, the restaurant or the bubbles. How about selling real half bottles of good California NV sparkling wine (prices range from $20 to $35) rather than make the customer wonder how long a bottle had been open before it reached the carafe (and possibly lost its effervesce along the way). I’d bet a lot of locals and travelers from distant lands would rave about the classy and comfortable dining experience.
Two more Malarkey venues opened (Gabardine and Herringbone), adding swatches to his growing love affair with fabric named restaurants (Searsucker, Burlap and Gingham). One can only wonder when he gets to Nylon, Velcro, Polyester and Spandex. He’s opening a new place in Uganda in the summer…yes, Uganda, as noted here. When will Malarkey have time to move to Point Loma as he mentions in a Gabardine email message that also includes menu changes. Buzz will delve more into Gabardine and Herringbone in a separate post…there’s lots to tell.
Full disclosure: I know the executive chef, chef de cuisine and sommelier at The Shores.