Buzz got bogged down with writing and traveling.  Lots to catch you up on so sit tight, I’m writing as fast as I can!

We’re hearing that chef Tony DiSalvo has returned to the east coast.  He had been executive chef at Jack’s La Jolla from opening day.  Note this is, at the moment, unconfirmed.  UPDATE 4/11/09:  DiSalvo has moved east and is a personal chef.

Roseville now serves a Sunday brunch from 10am to 3pm.  And it’s not just your usual eggs, toast and bacon breakfast.  Chef Amy DiBiase dishes have creative twists to them: buttermilk pancakes with quince compote and cardamom cream ($11), potato-rosemary frittata ($12), duck confit stuffed crepes ($14), eggs Benedict with Con Pane’s focaccia and prosciutto ($14) and chive biscuits with linguica gravy ($12).  For reservations and information call: 619-450-6800.

Burger Lounge will open in Little Italy at the former site of Sushi Fix.  Expect to see burgers and those yummy fresh-cut fries available in the next few months.

If you love Tijuana Mexican style food but don’t love the drive to get it, Funky Garcia’s Mexican Eatery & Bar, opens soon in the Gaslamp.  It will feature mesquite grilled Mexican street tacos and a food menu with nothing over $5. Moe Sadighian, the chef and owner of Tabule around the corner has five other Tijuana based restaurants, so he knows his stuff when it comes to truly authentic TJ food.  421 Market Street, San Diego, 858-414-6654.

Look for the Hillcrest Corvette Diner to close on April 26 and reopen in Liberty Station early summer 2009.  Owned by the Cohn Restaurant Group, the new site features a gaming arcade, more seating and lots of parking.  Housed in a historic building that was the officers club, the new Corvette Diner & Gamers Garage will also give diners three different themed areas for family dining.  For adults who may need a drink beyond a milk shake, there will be a full bar.  The restaurant is located at the Barnett Street entrance to Liberty Station, across from the golf course.

Cooks Confab is San Diego’s answer to a gourmet dinner group, only its members are all well-known restaurant chefs. Members include Jeff Jackson, Nathan Coulon, Brian Malarkey, Brian Sinnott, Jack Fisher, Olivier Boiteau and for the moment, only one woman chef, Katie GrebowAmy DiBiase may soon join her on the roster. This week, eight members of the group presented a nine-course dinner with wines paired by Eno wine director, Ted Glennon. at 1500 Ocean that featured sustainable seafood.  Along with the seafood creations, the finale of Jack Fisher‘s light, lemony olive oil parfait with strawberry caviar and rhubarb (served not in a glass, but plated as a piece of cake) made me nearly lick the plate.

Stations for the reception featured five of the chefs and one was Brian Malarkey’s duo of oysters, with, shockingly “Santa Monica Farmers Market Strawberries” along with a Champagne mignonette.  A quick look at Malarkey’s contribution to the January truffle dinner included produce from specific farms north of Los Angeles.  Buzz does wonder why Malarkey doesn’t support the local farmers who grow produce nearer to Oceanaire.  The Confab’s next dinner is Meat on June 7 at Nine-Ten, hosted by chef Jason Knibb.

At a media dinner a few weeks ago,  Nathan Coulon unveiled his new menu for Quarter KItchen at Ivy Hotel. It’s a menu that encourages sharing and features “American favorites, seasoned with fresh ideas.” Coulon’s food is approachable, reflects his classical training and is at a realistic price point for these trying times.  His love of goat cheese was evident in the three starters he chose–roasted beet, avocado and creamy goat cheese ($12), spinach and prosciutto salad with fresh goat cheese ($11) and aged French coat cheese on a housemade brioche ($15).  There’s the cook-your-own on a hot stone Japanese Kobe beef–thin slices at $20 per ounce, minimum three ounce order.  Buzz doesn’t swoon over Kobe beef at any price, but Coulon’s prime Cabernet braised short ribs with mashed Yukon’s and a hint of star anise in the red wine reduction ($28) make for a worthy dish.   A simple grilled pork loin appeared with cauliflower gratin and sensational cumin braised apples and red cabbage ($27).  The kitchen and restaurant seem more at ease with Coulon’s steady hand than with his predessor, Damon Gordon.

Down on the bay near the convention center, Vela, at the new Hilton San Diego Bayfront, conveys serenity in a warm and contemporary room with views of the bay and the docks of the Port’s Tenth Avenue Terminal.  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you just might see a Dole freighter unloading its cargo or the lights of Coronado while you dine.  The bar doesn’t have the view, but on a quiet Monday, Buzz was able to enjoy a taste pour ($5) of Barth sparkling wine from Germany along with an appetizer of butternut squash tortellini in sage butter (the pasta needed a minute or two more in the water) and a rich wild mushroom risotto ($18). Vela is a place where you can have a quiet meal and watch the world go by.  Best yet is their Vela Society for locals that includes complimentary valet parking while dining, seasonal discounts for large parties and much more–and membership is free.

Had a chance to try the new Hane Sushi on Fifth Avenue at Olive Street.  The room exudes simplicity…some may say they wish for something more on the blank wall behind the sushi chefs with only a floral arrangement at which to gaze.  Buzz loves the lack of visual candy and the contemporary design. There is a separate small bar area, and the sleek sushi bar doesn’t allow the diner to see the fish as most places do.  Sushi Ota devotees may find a favorite chef or two working here as Hane’s owners are part of the Ota clan.  If you’re in the mood, special sushi and sashimi dishes and a good selection of cold sakes go beyond standard fare found at other places…but don’t expect bargain prices for creativity, quality, freshness and gracious service. 2760 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill, (619) 260-1411.

Blind Lady Ale House in Normal Heights seems to be a hit with the neighborhood, especially on a recent Sunday night.  The menu reflects simple pizzas, roughly 12 inches cut into six pieces.  It’s very casual; you order from a choice of 20 beers on tap in one line and pizzas in another line where you get a number so the pizza can be brought to you.  Plates, napkins and utensils are in the middle of the room and it’s up to you to set your table.  Pizzas are European in style with thin crusts and a lighter hand with toppings–though one with butternut squash and shitake mushrooms needed more zip. House-made sausage, chorizo and Fra Mani salami are main ingredients for three different pizzas, and vegan alternatives are available including one for pesto. Pizza prices range from $7 for marinara to $14 for the chorizo with chiles and fontina.  3416 Adams Ave., (619) 255-2491.  Dinner only from 5pm, closed Monday.

If you’d like to taste some Parker 93 point plus wines, then Enoteca Style in Little Italy is the place to be on Thursday, February 26.  Cost is $20 to experience Palmeyer, Palazzo and others.  RSVP online.

There’s a new city magazine that launches mid-May, OurCity: San Diego.  It’s a magazine for our times that will cover things to do, places to go, the food scene (Buzz is the food editor) all with an eye to family, community and the people who are a part of this glorious place, San Diego.  Sign up online for three free issues.

San Diego’s first Passover seder at Urban Solace, takes place on Wednesday April 8, the first night of the holiday.  Reservations and information: 619-295-6464.

As Buzz mentioned on February 19, Winesellar & Brasserie will open a take away/sit down area downstairs from its Brasserie.  Split @ The Winesellar & Brasserie opens Wednesday February 25 with a small menu to expand as it grows.  Hours: 11am to 2pm Monday through Friday.

Eno at the Del, hosts a new series of Connoisseur Dinners that kick off with Willi Brundlmayer, the well-known Austrian winemaker.  The March 4 dinner is limited to 24, cost is $85 plus tax and tip and for reservations call 619-522-8490.

If Austrian wines aren’t your thing,  1500 Ocean, the terrific restaurant at the Hotel Del (yes, Buzz loves the place for its top food and service) hosts the first dinner in a series to celebrate sustainable foods.  On March 24, Cooks Confab, local chefs who value farm and sea to table regional ingredients, will hightlight sustainable seafood.  Chefs involved include, Brian Sinnott, Christian Graves, Nathan Coulon, Jack Fisher, and Jason Knibb among others.  The eight-course dinner is $95 plus tax and tip and for reservations call 619-522-8490.

Should you find yourself in New York on March 30, join Addison’s executive chef William Bradley and wine director Jesse Rodriguez for dinner at the James Beard House.  For reservations, call 212-627-2308.

The 3rd Corner features a number of wine events and dinners including a March 9 wine dinner with wines from Fallbrook Winery.  Others throughout March and April center on wines of Italy, Argentina, Malbecs and more.  For information and reservations:  619-223-2700.

Family Winemakers of California comes to Wyland Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds with 240 wineries participating on Sunday, March 15 from 3pm to 6pm.  Cost is $40 or $50 at the door.   Order tickets online.

At  Wine Vault & Bistro you’ll find an ever changing and interesting lineup of wines and winemaker dinners.  You need to be on the email list to know about the events.

The Kiwanis Club of Alpine Foundation hosts their 19th Annual Vintage Alpine on May 3 where you can enjoy wine, food, music and a silent auction.  $40 before March 24, $50 at the door.  For more information:  619-672-3861 or online.

The well-known Parallel 33, in Mission Hills, closed its doors last Saturday night after nine and a half years.  Look for a change of ownership in the near future.

Matt Rimel, the guy behind the very popular Zenbu Sushi Bar and Rimel’s Rotisserie in La Jolla, brings both to Cardiff-by- the-Sea.  They occupy two large spaces in the newly redone Cardiff Town Center next to the Seaside Market at Birmingham and San Elijo.  Zenbu opens late this week and will be, as its La Jolla sister, only open for dinner.  Next door, Rimel’s Rotisserie just started lunch and dinner this week. Zenbu: 760-633-2223, Rimel’s 760-633-2202.

Winesellar & Brasserie will soon open a yet-to-be-named cafe below their Brasserie. You’ll find healthy organic food to take away or eat there including many half bottles of wines to go with soups, salads and pastas made in the Brasserie kitchen.

Somehow, the space at the Aventine, that was most recently Blue Coral, never seems to get the right restaurant.  Numerous operations have come and gone and now another will give it a shot.  Opening in the next few weeks is a high-end Florida seafood restaurant:  Truluck’s Seafood, Steak, Crab House

Opening on Friday, Alchemy in South Park.  Not much on the website yet.  It’s on the corner of Beech and 30th.

A few years back I arrived in Paris on Valentine’s eve–a night that is a very big deal in France.  When I finally got a cab, my French driver told me that he and his wife considered every day Valentine’s Day…and I couldn’t agree more.  Here are some last minute suggestions for the day and don’t forget them (or your sweetie) the rest of the year.

For something other than dinner, consider picking up a few special items to share at home.  They could be anything from special cheeses, olives, crackers and a fabulous bottle of wine or Champagne to a decadent dessert or even a little chocolate bread teddy bear and coffee to start the day.  Venissimo and Taste Artisan Cheese & Gourmet Shop are two places where you can taste unusual seasonal cheeses and find condiments to go with them.

Order the chocolate bread teddy bear ($12.95) from Con Pane Rustic Breads, 619-224-4344.  Get something chocolate from Eclipse Chocolat or make a reservation for their Valentine dinner.  More chocolate from The Elegant Truffle (619-222-1889 and fusion flavors from  Chuao Chocolatier where you can order online (or at their locations around the county)  so you can remember others who may not live here in San Diego.  Extraordinary Desserts at 20 years old this year can help with a dessert or two to eat in or take home and the Union Street store and restaurant has a selection of kid friendly items, cookbooks and lovely candles if chocolate isn’t your thing.

Look for bubbles from any of the wine shops including San Diego Wine Co., Vintage Wines, Winesellar & Brasserie, and Grape Connections. Or sneak away to  Eno at the Hotel Del to watch the sunset, or pop by The 3rd Corner to choose a bottle or two to drink there or take away.

For dining you’ll find just about every restaurant doing either a prix fixe menu or something special for the big night.  Be sure to make reservations as already some places may be full.  Some possible places include Roseville, Crescent Heights, Sea Rocket Bistro, Avenue 5 Restaurant & Bar, La Bastide Bistro, Solare, Farm House Cafe, and many others, in all price ranges, listed at Open Table.

With an economy that knows better days, we’d like to think that restaurants–from their PR representatives and front of the house management, to their servers and kitchen–would be all over good service.  Note to restaurateurs and management:  Service and food for a new place or one that’s been open for ages needs to be top notch when you’re competing for dining dollars as everyone is today.  Frank Bruni of the New York Times writes today about what restaurants are doing to show their appreciation to customers in these hard times.  The following three stories exemplify what Buzz hates to experience and hear about since we want every San Diego restaurant to succeed–it’s all in the details.

Why would Decanter Wine Lounge & Restaurant invite press (Buzz wasn’t on the list) to an opening that included the public at $45 a pop, for appetizers and main courses, according to the invite that went to Rancho Santa Fe residents?  One member of the invited press and a guest arrived to find the public relations person had neglected to add their names to the guest list so the hostess wanted $90.  Once in, they encountered a surprising series of food and wine missteps, which they found odd especially if the chef/owner, Jayson Knack (whose resume includes a stint at Nine-Ten Prospect) wants to make a good impression on potential customers including those who write about the place. Decanter officially opened January 30 and promises nearly 200 wines by the glass with 4500 bottles to choose from.

What’s up with downtown’s Currant American Brasserie? A couple of things:  Three of us on a recent Sunday night couldn’t figure out why the host only lit the candle at our table, leaving the rest of the tables looking forlorn and the impression the restaurant did not look open for business. The room lighting was dim at best and the bar TV blasted a sporting event while the room’s club music didn’t match the setting.  Plating and presentation on the dark and decorated dinnerware made deciphering the food difficult.  Carlsbad mussels with frites were a good choice, but a beet salad got lost on the dark plate.  The food works just fine, but the distractions make the enjoyment difficult.

The continuing problems at the Symphony Hall’s Sheraton Lobby Bar before Monday perfomances continues to confound pre-theater patrons who want a nosh before the performance.  The service as was reported here a year ago, still needs work as a reader reports “ When we attended the Monday December 15 performace of jazz trumpetist Chris Botti, the Sheraton Bar was entirely unprepared, understaffed. I was hoping it wouldn’t be that way, but based on the experience I had previously I braced for problems. We sat at the bar and got in our order early. I could tell there were problems with other customers though. Usually there are not performances on Mondays. But how hard can it be to go downstairs and get a symphony program from the box office?”