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.

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?”

We’re hearing that the Gaslamp’s Dussini’s Mediterranean Bistro will convert the downstairs restaurant back to The Old Spaghetti Factory. Downstairs will close for remodeling February 1 and will reopen for dinner only.  Upstairs will continue to be the Dussini lounge and bar with a smaller tapas menu.

The Better Half, one the successful new restaurants of 2008 will see staff changes with the departure of its creator, Zubin Desai who sold the business to his executive chef, John Robert Kennedy.  Desai plans to relocate to the Bay area in the next few months.

Tommy Pastrami is coming to San Diego.  First location will be downtown with some of the best deli corned beef, pastrami, tuna and chopped liver sandwiches you will ever find in this town.  Last May Buzz mentioned them here.

The almost open Setai San Diego made a name change December 22, to Sè San Diego. The Asian word Sè loosely translates to color, quality, sensuality and physical attraction which the owners felt better defines the hotel and separates it from its sister Setai in Miami (owned by Lehman Brothers).  The idea is to brand the hotel and future properties in other cities (think Sè Las Vegas and you get the idea).  The hotel is in its soft opening and its signature restaurant Suite & Tender Bar, Lounge & Restaurant (a cute play on words, but will you think steak?) hopes to be open by Sunday, December 28.  Christopher Lee, from New York where he garnered two Michelin stars for Gilt, is the consulting chef and Bill Boyle is the executive chef for the mostly steak, raw bar and seafood menu.  1047 Fifth Ave., San Diego., 619-515-3000.

Addison, the over-the-top restaurant at The Grand Del Mar recently hosted a lovely media holiday party.  The restaurant just became San Diego’s first and only recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award.  Executive chef  William Bradley (who is getting married next September) and master sommelier Jesse Rodriguez were on hand to meet and greet.  Locavores may not rave about Bradley’s use of Iranian caviar even though  he feels it’s the best.  I wonder, however, when it is served with chopped egg, onion and other diversions, as it was at the party, can one really detect the delicate quality of the eggs?   On the wine side, Rodriguez created some wonderful house blends–ones that he has traveled the world to make (with top producers) especially for the restaurant.  Addison’s service, as well, is worth the trip and the setting, especially at night, makes a lovely diversion from the hectic daily grind.  5200 Grand Del Mar Way, 858-314-1900.

Well-known ex-food critic of the Union Tribune, Maria Hunt has been named Wine & Spirits editor at Ranch & Coast Magazine.

Looks like Tracy Borkum finally sold Chive, long rumored to have been on the market.  The site could become a Latin-inspired restaurant so stay tuned for more info on this Gaslamp spot on Fourth Avenue.

And in a sad sign of the times do not be surprised to see a couple of San Diego’s newer (and highly leveraged) establishments fall by the wayside as early as January.

Up in Napa, food lovers who thought about a visit to Copia will find it shuttered as of last Friday due to mounting debt on the property.

On a happier note, to support many of our local venues, check out the restaurants involved in restaurant week that runs January 11through 16, 2009.  Restaurant week is a good way to try new places or visit others you may already know.

If you’re in Washington DC, the popular Gaslamp restaurantAcqua al Due will open on 7th Street near the historic market building. Expect a spring 2009 opening.

The well-known Luna Notte in Point Loma will soon become part of Hillcrest’s popular Arrivederci Ristorante.  Luna Notte’s owners, Rob and Angela Scott have sold the restaurant and are moving to Bainbridge Island in Washington at the end of this month.  It will be interesting to see how locals at  Old Venice, La Scala, Pizza Nova and Solare in Liberty Station will take to their new neighbor.

Up in La Jolla there’s buzz that two well-known (and very good) chefs may be vying for Damon Gordon’s executive chef spot at the Gaslamp’s Ivy Hotel.

And up in Solana Beach, could it be that the chef from the area’s top eatery may be looking to move on?

There’s a shakeup in the kitchen at the Ivy Hotel. Executive chef Damon Gordon moves on at the end of the month for a likely gig back on the east coast at another upscale hotel.  No word who will step into Gordon’s position.

In these tough economic times, we hope it isn’t true:  Could it be that a supper club in Bankers HIll  might be on the selling block?  Readers to this blog wonder if another restaurant/club near Symphony Hall may not be faring so well.  Up in Hillcrest, a reader wonders about a wine bar that may also be on the ropes.  Stay tuned.

Last week chef James Montejano parted company and moved on from his opening gig at the popular downtown Asian-inspired Jade Theater. No news on where he’s going to land. Chef George Anthony (who worked at Cafe Cerise with Jason Seibert) will bring his French/Asian influence to the restaurant’s menu while keeping some Montejano favorites such as the Jade Bites.

Speaking of Jason Seibert, he’s been on the road with Wolfgang Puck. Could he be in training for Puck’s soon-to-open eatery at the La Jolla Playhouse? Stay tuned.

Over at Currant in the Sofia Hotel, Jonathan Pflueger, whose name remains on the restaurant though nowhere on the website, departed and in his stead Geoffrey Yahn moves up from sous chef to executive chef.