Rare Form has opened its doors in the East Village, next to Stone Brewing Tap Room by Petco Park. The deli and bar combo is the brainchild of CH Projects, the group behind Craft & Commerce, Neighborhood and Underbelly. Expect creative cocktails, groovy design and casual bites from chef Aldo Negrete, formerly of Whisknladle. Rare Form, 795 J St., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-255-6507.
Arturo Kassel and Ryan Johnston of Whisknladle Hospitality will open their Italian Coastal restaurant, Catania, in early 2015. Inspired by a road trip through Italy, Catania is the newest concept for this restarateur duo, who are also behind Whisknladle and Prepkitchen Del Mar. Designed by Bluemotif Architecture, the space will occupy 3,750 square feet on the top floor of La Plaza, which once housed Jack's La Jolla. Catania, La Plaza, 7863 Girard Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037, no phone.
Bijou French Bistro has opened in the former space of Amaya La Jolla. Addison executive chef William Bradley serves as culinary director while his former sous-chef Shaun Gethin is chef de cuisine. Among the menu’s French bistro favorites are steak tartare, quiche, French onion soup, steak frites and coq au vin. Bijou French Bistro, 1205 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037, 858-750-3695.
A new 60s-style lounge called Cat Eye Club pays homage to Tiki culture with groovy decor, rummy drinks in volcano bowls and pupu platters. The fun-filled menu includes teriyaki beef skweers with pineapple, pork sliders, crab wontons and oysters. Look for karaoke evenings, live music and painting classes paired with tropical cocktails. Cat Eye Club, 370 7th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-330-9509.
Chef Amy DiBiase has launched a beautiful new restaurant at Paradise Point Resort & Spa appropriately named Tidal, a waterfront eatery that serves up local seafood, seasonal dishes and craft cocktails. DiBiase, who also worked at the resort's predessesor Baleen years ago, has partnered with Snake Oil Cocktail Company to creative an ingredient-driven drink program. DiBiase’s menu features oysters on the half shell, smoked salmon belly, chicken confit, olive oil-poached halibut, ricotta gnudi, glazed pork cheek and various craft cheeses. Social hours run from 3 p.m.-5 p.m., a perfect time to enjoy cold beers and small plates on Tidal's deck overlooking the bay. Dinner nightly. Tidal, 1404 Vacation Rd., San Diego, CA 92109, 858-274-4630, 800-344-2626.
Chef Jason McLeod has partnered with CH Projects (the masterminds behind craft cocktail venues such as Polite Provisions, Craft & Commerce and Noble Experiment) to launch IRONSIDE FISH & OYSTER. Set in Little Italy, once the tuna capital of the U.S., this fish-driven eatery hopes to reintroduce the oyster culture to San Diego, a nod to the seaport city’s past as a giant in the fishing industry. McLeod previously served as executive chef of RIA, a luxurious seafood-driven restaurant in Chicago's Elysian Hotel. He now has plans for an approachable raw-bar concept in this 4,500-square-foot, 1920s-era warehouse. IRONSIDE will also host an in-house bakery and European-style open kitchen with a unique chef's table, and a five-foot live lobster tank. The menu will spotlight seafood-heavy dishes like beer-braised mussels with Andouille sausage, a fried oyster po boy and lobster rolls. Look for more than 50 unique cocktails, craft beers, fortified wines and $1 oysters at happy hour. Lunch & Dinner nightly. IRONSIDE FISH & OYSTER, 1654 India St., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-269-3033.
The East Village will be home to Water Grill, the third incarnation of the respected seafood restaurants with locations in downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. With the closing of The Palm, a 10,000-square-foot restaurant space became available on J Street, and Water Grill, known for its upscale seafood and stellar service, has stepped up to take over. L.A.’s chef Damon Gordon will oversee the San Diego eatery, which is aiming to open in late 2014. San Diego chef Amanda Baumgarten, of Waypoint Public, formerly served as sous chef and executive chef of Water Grill in L.A. Water Grill, 615 J St., San Diego, CA 92101, no phone.
Chef Rob Ruiz (formerly of Harney Sushi) has a new passion project called The Land & Water Company. The forward-thinking Carlsbad eatery is set in the Twin Inns building, a Victorian mansion built in 1886 and once the home of the town’s co-founder. Dubbed a "French izakaya" (a Japanese pub), Ruiz presents a hyper-local focused menu with produce sourced from local farms and meat, including grass-fed beef, from ranches within a 50-mile radius of the restaurant. Think California cuisine with French, Hawaiian and Japanese influences. Ruiz, a master with sushi who was trained in Hawaii, is also dedicated to sustainability and takes an eco-minded approach to selecting his fish and preparing his delicous food. Lunch & Dinner nightly. The Land & Water Company, 2978 Carlsbad Boulevard, #110, Carlsbad, CA 92008, 760-729-5263.
Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais brings his culinary smarts to San Diego with Juniper & Ivy. Set in a 100-year-od renovated warehouse on the edge of Little Italy, Juniper & Ivy is Blais’ latest project which he calls a “left coast cookery.” This greatly anticipated modernist restaurant with its giant exposition kitchen serves up California seasonal cuisine with curated products and radical techniques. Blais, who trained at The French Laundry, Daniel, Chez Panisse and elBulli, works closely with chef de cuisine Jon Sloan, formerly the executive chef/partner at Roy’s San Diego Waterfront. Juniper & Ivy, 2228 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101, 619-269-9036.
Chef Javier Plascencia to Open Eatery in Little Italy
Famed Baja chef Javier Plascencia has announced that he will open a restaurant on Kettner in Little Italy later in 2014. Plascencia, known for his string of successful eateries like Mision 19 in Tijuana, Finca Altozano in Guadalupe Valley (80 miles south of San Diego) and Romesco in Bonita (south of San Diego), will now bring his talents to downtown area. The casual restaurant will serve Modern Mexican cuisine that features street food and dishes influenced by his existing restaurants. An opening date has not be announced, but look for the restaurant at 1490 Kettner Boulevard.
San Diego Restaurant Week Returns
The California Restaurant Association presents the twice annual San Diego Restaurant Week, held again September 21-26, 2014. Featuring prix-fixe menus from more than 180 San Diego restaurants, guests can opt to dine for lunch or dinner. Three different price choices are available for the two-course lunches and three-course dinners. Select a $10, $15 or $20 menu for lunch and $25, $35 or $45 menu for dinner. For more information, visit www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com
Executive chef Greg Fry has left BlueFire Grill at the Omni La Costa Resort. A replacement for the resort's signature restaurant has not been named, but for now the menu remains the same, featuring farm-to-table, seasonal Califonia Cuisine. Fry has taken on a new position at the Golden Door. BlueFire Grill, Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009, 760-438-9111.
With the departure of Nicolas Bour from Rancho Bernardo Inn, a new culinary team has been set at the rustic property. A young and passionate chef, originally from Argentina, Tomás Baistrocchi has taken over as chef de cuisine. Baistrocchi worked under Bour and has a stellar background with stints at Fearrington House Restaurant and Inn and other fine restaurants. Executive chef Carissa Giacalone will oversee all culinary operations and banquets for the hotel. Previously, she worked at the Hilton Bayfront. The cuisine at AVANT continues to be seasonal California fare that's ingredient-driven and fresh from the garden. AVANT, Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr., San Diego, CA 92128, 858-675-8550.
Chef Sam Burman has landed as chef de cuisine at The Grant Grill in the historic US Grant Hotel downtown. After 10 years naviagting the Chicago culinary scene, Burman came to San Diego and served as executive chef at Quality Social, and then as corporate chef at Whisknladle Hospitality, where he spent two and a half years overseeing the success of both Whisknladleand Prepkitchen Del Mar’s culinary programs with chef Ryan Johnston. Burman plans to showcase the flavors of the hotel's rooftop garden in his seasonal dishes, which include veal sweetbreads with Andy’s Orchard cherries, shaved celery and blue cheese, as well as a fresh hamachi starter with spiced corn, sea asparagus, finger lime and peppadew pepper purée. The Grant Grill, The US Grant, 326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101, 619-744-2077.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort has a new culinary commander, Nicolas Bour, the former executive chef from Rancho Bernardo Inn and RBI's signature restaurant AVANT. Bour will oversee all of the resort’s restaurants, including Mistral, Market and La Cantina, along with culinary events, weddings and more. With Loews Coronado Bay's partnership with Suzie's Farm, Bour will have access to some of San Diego's finest produce and organic ingredients. We are excited to see what the culinary future holds for the Coronado Island resort. Loews Coronado Bay Resort, 4000 Coronado Bay Rd., Coronado, CA 92118, 619-424-4000, 800-LOEWS-23.
Executive chef Brandon Fortune has landed at Kitchen 1540 and presents Modern American cuisine with an upscale Southern influence. Classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta, Fortune honed his skills in resorts including Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta and The Grand Del Mar in San Diego. Look for his signature shrimp and grits with organic heirloom grains and a roasted corn and chorizo crème; cold-smoked trout and organic beets; and chicken 'n' dumplins, inspired by a recipe from Fortune's grandmother, but with a modern interpretation. The dish is composed of a confit thigh, puffed biscuit rolled in panko crumbs and fried to order, spring carrots from Chino Farms and a Thai-inspired coconut curry gravy. Kitchen 1540, L'Auberge Del Mar, 1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014, 858-793-6460.
After a 14-year run, Zenby Sushi closed May 31, 2014. Owner Matt Rimel, who also has Zenbu in Cardiff and three Rimel's Rotisserie locations, has decided to pull the plug on the La Jolla eatery. Rumors imply a new restaurant plan is in the works, so stayed tuned. Zenbu Sushi, 7660 Fay Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037, no phone.
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