Escondido Gets Master French Chef

Patrick Ponsaty bolts Loews for Bellamy's and Bandy Canyon


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When a Charlie Trotter underling opened Tango in Escondido, people thought the city's great cuilnary drought was over (no offense, Grand). Then that chef sold the joint. And the people who bought the joint recently sold it again. The new owner changed the name to Bellamy's and hired a well-trained young chef (Mike Reidy from El Bizcocho). But it wasn't terribly big news.

Now it is.

That owner, Brian Bonar, just lured Patrick Ponsaty away from his post at Loews Coronado. Ponsaty—one of two Master French Chefs in San Diego (Bernard Guillas of Marine Room is the other)—will help Reidy whip Bellamy's into shape. But it sounds like the biggest projects are yet to come—including a complete overhaul of Escondido's The Ranch at Bandy Canyon. Bonar bought the 144-acre property about a year ago, and now plans to turn it into a top-tier events space (weddings, divorce parties, whatever you're celebrating) that'll include a signature restaurant with Ponsaty at the helm. Tim Connelly of Connelly Gardens will also have an 80-acre farm on property that'll feed the restaurant, and chickens and goats (dinner, not pets) will be raised on site.

El Biz regulars should take extra note, because along with Ponsaty and Reidy, long- long- longtime El Biz server Trevor Da Costa (he of fantastic moustache) is now serving as general manager at Bellamy's. "Trevor called me and said, 'You want to meet my boss,'" Ponsaty explains. "I asked why. He said [the owner] has a lot of projects and likes to open restaurants—and he needs someone like you."

"A week later, I meet the new owner at Bellamy's. Funny thing is, he was one of my best customers at El Biz. We'd met there 12 years ago."

At the Bandy Canyon restaurant, Ponsaty says to expect it to match the rustic decor, with rotisserie, plenty of game (boar, venison, wild hare) and a daily tasting menu. He'll also be importing his own Armagnac and Cognac—a gift from his 88-year-old uncle who owned a restaurant in Elne, France. "Four-hundred liters, all magnums," says Ponsaty. "The oldest Armagnac is from 1914."

Ponsaty's last night at Loew's is December 28.

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Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

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