Blog: Feast!

Entries for September, 2011

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We’ll Come to You

After Nicky Rottens, I meet up with the beautiful Carla. She has been doing her hair with Diane, and before that, having lunch at her friend Janice’s place on Coronado. "How was lunch?" I ask. “Extra special. We had goat cheese pesto-stuffed chicken breasts with braised red cabbage,” says Carla. ...

It's Raining (Vodka) at Nicky Rottens

Shawn Burkholder sure knows how to pour a drink. A bunch of drinks, actually. At the same time. Sitting in the brand-new Nicky Rottens (104 Orange Avenue, on the corner of First in Coronado, 619.537-0280). Rottens owner Nicky Tomasello has taken over The Island Sports Bar and the corner laundromat. ...

On-The-Tracks Is Anything But

There are company names that are perfect. I see them and wonder how many strategizing sessions and near knock-down brawls business partners had to endure to figure out the right moniker to describe their business. Then there are names that make no sense or have some form of logic behind ...

It's Free! So Why Are There No Takers?

My friend Adrienne had a problem last night. She’s a barista and was closing up the coffee cart. I was her last customer. “Want a danish?” she says. “It’s free.” “What’s wrong with it?” I ask. “Day-old? Fell on the floor?” “No. It’s just left over. They’ll be old tomorrow. ...

Peachy Lunch at Madeleine's

Delish crêpe special today at Café Madeleine (2248 30th Street, South Park, at Juniper, 619-544-1735). It’s the peach vanilla, filled with jam imported from France. Special's on till they run out, for $6. Cafe Madeleine I like this place, because, well, it's the one with the most French feeling around, ...

Sneak Peek at a Sublime New Menu

Double IPAs and Imperial Stouts are great and all, but one of the best things about beer festivals is the people you meet. When I was covering Green Flash Brewing Company’s 8th Anniversary Festival during last year’s San Diego Beer Week festivities, I got in a conversation about how palatable ...

The Greatest Franchise You've Never Heard Of

Johnny’s a spatula juggler. He has them up in the air, floating like space junk around Earth. “I’m from Shanghai,” he says. “Me too,” says Jackie. He’s offering chicken samples to draw customers in. “I’m from Canton,” says Li Jing Yue. Li Jing Yue He’s loading up my polystyrene lunch ...

Alpine Beer Company's Jack O' Lantern's Sporting a Frown

While they’re a successful brewing company with a legion of fans, sometimes it seems like Alpine Beer Company can’t catch a break. First they couldn’t get enough of the hops needed to create one of their fans’ favorite brews — the exquisitely bitter Duet IPA. In the midst of that, ...

It's a Chain, But Hey: It's Gastro

Is there a wide selection of gastropubs in South Bay? Uh, no. I'm desperate. This is Friday night. I’m in Chula Vista, lookin’, walkin', searching… Aha! In the big shopping mall at 3rd and H, a sign: “BJ’s.” It’s an eatery, it’s a pub, it's huge, it’s a…uh oh. A ...

Book Some Time at SD's Largest Brewery

Some may think a company rather high on itself to pen a meticulously detailed tome all about itself, but c’mon, given Stone Brewing Company’s reputation for healthy ego and self-promotion, surely nobody’s surprised to learn they’ve released such a book. To their credit, theirs is a story that’s worth telling ...

Dosas to Die For: Southern Comfort, Indian-Style

South Indian food? There's a difference? Just like in the States, they say southern Indian food is tastier than their northern fare. That’s why Allen Sem is a San Diego treasure. He’s Tamil, from Hyderabad. And they also say Hyderabad is one of southern India’s great food capitals. Allen sold ...

Raise the Macallan, Charlie Bucket

When my roommates wake up at 4 p.m. complaining of headache and grave transgression, it usually means a few too many bottles of Two Buck Chuck or the superfluous 40 of Mickey’s at dawn. Often I'm right there with them, but this time was different. “They gave us free whiskey ...

Not Panicking, But Pannikin! Say It’s Not So!

The rumors are true. Pannikin downtown (675 G, 619-239-7891), the place where you can choose between a cup of fresh-roasted coffee and an African mask or a Tarahumara drum or a Mexican skeleton, is gonna close. Today. After 34 years. “Well, we may have coffee and cakes for customers who ...

Fattening Up While Fighting Childhood Obesity

It's important to get a lot of iron in one's diet, but if you're looking to get a solid helping of irony, look no further than Olivewood Gardens' Heart of the Harvest two-day fundraiser. What's ironic about it? Part one of the event is a multicourse feast called Moonlit Soiree ...

Molecular Gastronomy at... Harney Sushi?

When I signed up for a seat at Harney Sushi's new, monthly Nook Dining event, I was expecting an evening of sushi. Despite knowing about the small sushi spot in Old Town for years, I'd never before been inside. The "nook," which seats six, is a private booth (made private ...

An All Island Affair at Leroy's in Coronado

After reading Naomi Wise's assessment of Leroy's Kitchen and Lounge in Coronado, I agree that it's just what the island needed. I read my Reader colleague's dining review mere seconds after exiting the new Orange Avenue eatery. I was there to check out their first ever beer dinner, a five-course ...

The Frank Riviera

Frank Sinatra is everywhere. When you walk in the swing band’s howling “Luck Be a Lady Tonight!” Pork pie hats bob at the bar. Clusters of guys act out their Rat Pack routines in front of their girlfriends. And, talking of the Rat Pack, me and Matt and Ernesto are ...

New Flavors at Cucina Urbana

I don't know how this happens, but I always seem to forget it's Restaurant Week (how often is this happening these days, anyway?) when I stumble into one of my haunts, which I always seem to do when it's Restaurant Week. Fortunately, when I hit up Cucina Urbana right at ...

C-Level Lounging

Too late for breakfast, but not quite lunch on my birthday this year, which fell on a Saturday, I sought out relaxation on the water at C-Level Lounge. Because I hadn't had my coffee, but also because can't enjoy my Thai Steak Salad without a glass of Evolution, I chose ...

Special Edible Deliveries for Brewery Tasting Rooms

In my last print piece for the Reader, I laid out information, locations and some tips for proper etiquette at the myriad of craft-beer tasting rooms scattered across San Diego County. Part of my dissertation explained that tasting rooms aren't the types of places where you can expect to get ...

A Pizza New Zealand

Is pizza going up-market? It sure looks it here. Jes’ popped in around nine at night. Place looked so danged enticing, what with its little white portico and red barn paint job. This is Park Blvd Wine & Pizza (4615 Park Blvd, between Madison Ave. and Spalding Place; 619-546-7430). And ...

Karl Strauss Doing Up Wall Street in a Big Way

With so many competitors, keeping up with the Joneses can be tough for local brewing companies. Standing pat practically ensures a slide in the suds standings. Even SD's eldest member of the craft beer community, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, funnels a significant portion of its resources into keeping things fresh ...

Pssst! Wanna Start a Café?

Hmm…Opportunity knocks? Walking down Beech between 30th and, uh 30th (don’t ask. It’s that dogleg thing). Alchemy’s on the other corner. Here…a nice wide sidewalk, semi-enclosed by wrought iron... ...and a little low building with little churchy-looking stained-glass windows showing steaming coffee cups at head level. Unoccupied. Whu…? This would ...

Enlightened Condiment Shines Beyond Blackout

Like many a local, I was caught off guard and with a fridge full of rapidly warming food when the lights went out in SD the week before last. As I crept along Interstate 15 toward my juiceless domicile, all I could think about was using up as many of ...

African Breakfast on 30th

Breakfast Wheaties? How about a bowl of mushed collard greens, black-eyed peas and millet? “It’s a delicious breakfast,” says Thomas Muya. “It’s vegan, it’s good for diabetes, it’s $5, and it fills you with good nutrients, and not too much sugars.” Candy Gonzalez — no link-pun intended — nods agreement. ...

Contrary to "Wolfie," Pomegranate lives on

The UT's Food/Entertainment Advertising Manager, Wolfgang Verkaiik, writes little "reviews" of restaurants that take out ads. (They're all raves, of course. But some people actually believe he's a real food critic.) This past Thursday, "reviewing" a new Russian-Ukrainian restaurant in La Mesa, Wolfie noted that the chef there had previously ...

Underground Dining

You hear about pop-up restaurants and underground dining experiences the way you hear about anything worthy of checking out -- word of mouth. That's how I learned about Cellar Door, an "underground pop-up restaurant in Normal Heights." Actually, this restaurant is not so much pop-up as underground, as it's located ...

Big Bottom and Powdered Eggs Provide Solace

As San Diego's cocktail culture continues to advance, recon missions to check out mixology programs are becoming more and more common for food writers. I embarked on just such an assignment last night at Solace, the new Encinitas offshoot of North Park's Urban Solace, located in the LEED-certified Pacific Station ...

Something New: Thai on Park

It’s nine, ten at night. You can hear the clanging of work behind closed doors. In University Heights, the really cute small-shop cluster of eateries on Park Boulevard, where it ends at Adams. Curiosity gets the better of me. I knock on a door. It opens and ta-dah! Four people ...

Something Old: North Park's Old Mill Cafe

Just had the fillingest breakfast for $3.99 — at 8.30 at night. But that's Harry Kim. He's one of the two cooks you can see back there in the kitchen. Harry Kim I thought he was just one of the kitchen crew. But no, he owns this venerable old-school Old ...

Pass the Pastrami

Everybody says get the pastrami. “It’s so hot, it’s so rich,” says Tammy, the gal ahead of me. “If I hadn’t ordered the Californian, that’s what I’d be getting.” “And these are pretty picky people we get in here,” says Thomas. He's taking orders from behind the counter. Thomas, Tammy ...

Catching Up with an RV in Rancho Santa Fe

Given its role as a privacy property hidden away from public view, it's not surprising that Rancho Valencia gets overlooked by most foodies. But there are good things going on there. My interest in RV was first piqued when chef Eric Bauer, formerly of Little Italy's Anthology, came aboard to ...

Fika Time! Culture Class at City College

File this in the "Learn something every day" category. Up near City College yesterday. Waiting for the lights at Park and C, where the trolley slices through those two new gray high-rises (Housing Commission on one side, condos on the other). Noticed this sign, “Smart Corner.” Then another one. “Caffe ...

Extraordinary Instructional Materials en Route

Even Karen Krasne's local contemporaries (i.e., competitors) freely admit it — the woman knows her confections and does a hell of a job. Like a plastic bride atop a skyscraper-high wedding cake, she's had her feet planted firmly in the frosting strata of SD's top tier of dessert experts since ...

Growing, Peace Pie Piece…

JP’s surrounded. By yoga studios. “I love it,” he says. “And I think the locals love having us up here.” “Here” is Leucadia. JP’s vegan, raw, locovore kitchen has just opened in Encinitas (Peace Pies, 133 Daphne Street, behind Mozy’s Café; 619-618-6960). JP’s a one-man movement trying to save us ...

A Taste of the UK in...Poway?

Over the past few months, I'd caught some of the Twitter twerp buzz from North County inland residents about a new restaurant opening up in the former site of Miami Grille in Poway. The coming soon sign proclaimed the midsummer arrival of Company Pub and Kitchen. Powegians (no, I didn't ...

Downtown Eagle's Aerie: Safe!

Is there a better place to watch the passing parade downtown? I don’t think so. And even though Nathan Hiedo has taken over this joint, he promises this won’t change. Here on the ramp overlooking K Street and Fifth Avenue, you’re in the cat’s cradle…pig’s pen…uh, eagle’s aerie…whatever. Ciné Café ...

For fans of Yakyudori.....Hinotez coming soon

While I was having yet another nice meal at Yakyudori Ramen & Yakitori, I noticed this handwritten sign: Looks like after closing their Hillcrest restaurant, the owner of Yakyudori has decided to focus on the Convoy area. I inquired about Hinotez and was told "it's ramen, yakitori....and other stuff...." So ...

Café Noir: A Mystery Wrapped In a Conundrum

What the…? At the top of the black house, the letters I’ve missed for three long years. They're back on again. “Café Noir.” This I’ll have to investigate. Remember Café Noir, built into the li’l ol’ 1886 wooden house that almost got ’dozed for the ballpark? It had the cutest ...

New (Veggie) Pizza in Town

“Make Pizza, Not War.” Like the logo. Pizza sliced into the no-nukes peace sign. Walking along Island, from the Tivoli, through Chinatown (you can tell by the street lights), heading for Fifth. Notice this new place in an old building. And it promises Chicago deep-dish, but where the deep part ...

A Fish Tale Told by Candlelight

He’s not even a pescatarian, but local chef Chad White recently professed his love for one of his favorite fish in a public forum. And he did it in a big way – by having the image of a sculpin tattooed onto his calf. For those who’ve never seen a ...

Blackout Party Time!

PB managed to party it up last night, as the blackout took most of us back to stone-age star-gazing for entertainment. But staid downtown Coronado? Absolutely! And you can thank Brant Sarber, owner of Costa Azul (1031 Orange Avenue) for that. Brant Sarber “When the power went off, people were ...

Best Patio? These Just In!

Paris, California? You know how Naomi, Brandon, and I were talking about the best patio to eat, drink, and watch the world go by? Stop the presses! I hadn’t been to El Cajon yet. Yeah, yeah. The heat. But these beautiful warm evenings, they have done their city proud. Have ...

Sé Hello to the Saltbox

Even having the weirdest restroom in S.D. (a sprawling space that obliterated the traditional loo gender privacy that exists for a reason) couldn't save Suite & Tender. Being located on the second floor of downtown's Sé San Diego hotel was the closest the restaurant got to getting off the ground. ...

A World of Malarkey Coming Atcha!

Local-celeb chef Brian Malarkey and nightclub-entrepeneur partner James Brennan (Stingaree, etc.) are planning to take over the U.S. The time is right, says Brennan: across the U.S., restaurant rents are cheapening in light of the soggy economy (except in Hillcrest, evidently). Their Searsucker is doing great, and their new, giant ...

Mommy Makes Cakey-Pops

This enterpreneurial business started with a mom's broken pieces of cake. Maria Roldan realized she could tuck them atop lolliipop sticks and encase them in a hard sugar/chocolate glaze. Voila: Cakey Pops, which you'll now find at various local farmer's markets or buy online for yourself or en masse for ...

A Week of Ritualistic Celebration in North Park

Four score and seven beers ago (which translates to four years in inebriated mathematics), Ritual Tavern opened for business on the corner of 30th Street and Polk Avenue. From day one, they fit right in line with North Park's local, sustainable, craft beer-consumed dining scene. Over the years, they've risen ...

No More Free Danish

They struggled for a long time, but Silvana and her daughter Salena and the rest of the family who ran the New York Bakery (245 E. Main) have had to close their doors. It happened just over a month ago. This was the place every local knew because you got ...

Antique Cars, Old-School Adobada

Reporting from the Far East, here: E. Main in El Cajon. Tonight (Wednesday) is Antique Car Nite, aka the Cajon Classic Cruise, from 5 to 8 p.m. The danged thing keeps you coming back. Maybe it’s because I’m a car-free freak, but I love these nights. Tonight it's all about ...

Woodfired Pizza: End of a Trend?

No, of course not. Classic scare headline. Silly, really. Hellfire, it's not even the end of Pizza Nova. But it is the end of their Hillcrest location, which opened just before I hit town, and which introduced me to the joys of duck sausage pizza. I don't live in Hillcrest ...

The Best Damn Opportunity to Dive into the Sour Beer Subculture

Nineties-era beer ads taught us the perils of "bitter beer face," but there is nothing to fear from the outlandish expressions brought on by the acidic zing of sour beers. In fact, once one becomes acclimated to this age-old and skillfully crafted style of beers, they're likely to flash a ...

El Zarape Is No El Zarape

The original El Zarape on Park Boulevard is one of my favorite California-Mexican restaurants. From the barbecue chicken burrito to the carnitas plate, everything I've tasted there has been brimming with flavor, and it's all served up so fresh that each ingredient shines on its own -- you can differentiate ...

Serious Breakfast

I knew the Perry's Cafe had been around forever (25 years), and I'd heard about the fire, accidentally ignited by grease towels in the kitchen in December, 2009. I'd heard it had reopened in April 2010 and that it was famed for some seriously good breakfast food. But despite my ...

A New Cheese Steak Is Born...In Lemon Grove

He's bent over, chomping into his sandwich. "My invention," he says. "The California cheese steak sandwich." Huh. Turns out he took over this joint just...yesterday! John Forouzandeh, business grad from SDSU. This is Friday lunchtime at his Lemon Grove Deli & Grill (7860 Broadway, Lemon Grove, 619-464-2928). The Lemon Grove ...

Last Chance

Chance would be a good thing. And it was. But Chance Bistro (926 Orange Avenue, Coronado), the little “Modern Mexican” eatery that has been a quirky presence in the beach town for the best part of the decade, closed its doors this week. Even though it was named one of ...

Possum Problems? Possible!

Naomi: I’m having trouble with this comment box too. Had to haul this comment up to blog because the comment box won't accept it. OK, let's see how we go here, get out of Kafkaland... Re possums: Yeah, they're having a Feast! alright. I know we shouldn't leave the cat ...

When It's Too Much

Talking with Al Kazzazi at BB’s Deli yesterday got me thinking. How much of a strain is it to keep a restaurant going when the economy is evaporating around you, and you’re not getting customers, and the landlord and the bank still want their pound of flesh? A lot of ...

Bullfight Bisque

Last night I did the unthinkable: I walked into Dobson’s. That’s the downtown magnet for the power elite. Actually, was just hanging around for a bus. I recognized Paul Dobson, the bullfighter-owner, talking outside. I thought, what the heck. As long as they have a happy hour, I might be ...

Long-Time SD Restaurateurs Announce Chef for New Eatery

It's been several months since the owners of La Jolla's Trattoria Acqua chose to close their long-standing seaside eatery rather than give in to increased rent and contractual obligations from their landlord. Rather than let it vanquish their restaurateuring aspirations, they used the past several months to work on implementing ...

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