THE FORT KNOX OF CHOCOLATE? The anomaly at the See’s shop on Rosecrans Street: A security guard eyeballs suppliants at this temple of sugary delights. Not much ruffles the truffles at this busiest of See’s, which claims chain-high sales because of nearby military bases (the armed forces discount is a sweet deal). These facts crystallized after treks to other See’s had failed to secure some much-needed Seegars. A clerk explained, “We have a huge warehouse of chocolate in back.” Can I move in? . . . Boeuf bourguignon, roast duck and charm remain on the menu at Coronado’s romantic Chez Loma. After longtime owner Ken Irvine traded his toque for a developer’s hard hat and took on a San Francisco restoration project, new proprietors Carolyn and Lars Sjostrand didn’t change a thing. Says Carolyn, “We figured if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” “Sjostrand” translates as “seashore,” and Lars moved from South Dakota to be near his namesake.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: If a cruise line were boldly to name a new vessel Titanic, would you sail on the maiden voyage? . . . The town of Seymour, Wisconsin, boasts the Hamburger Hall of Fame, and Ruby’s Diner wants in. The rather fun chain—the Ruby’s on the end of the Oceanside Pier is a 1/3-mile walk down the plank—seeks fame with new “premium line” burgers pattied up from American Kobe beef, a deluxe variety served by the county’s priciest joints.
THE PHONE CALL every restaurant critic dreads came shortly after a review of Jsix in downtown’s Hotel Solamar was published in San Diego Magazine. Chef Deborah MacDonald Schneider dialed to say, “I’m as proud of Jsix as of anything in my whole career. I thought it went really, really well.” And since it went so well, she went, too—to the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack, where Premier Food Services has named her executive chef. “During the fair, I’m not going to be the ‘blooming onion’ person,” demurs Schneider. But will the corn dogs sport the Baja cuisine expert’s chile de arbol salsa? Nothing for the record on the kiss off with Solamar operator Kimpton Hotels, but it sounds as if love was not lost . . . Franck Riffaud, a veteran of starred French restaurants and international luxury hotels, has brought a repertoire that includes roasted figs with vanilla French toast to his new job as pastry chef at Four Seasons Resort Aviara.
PRETTY PINK: Antonio Friscia, not much noticed for the good work he did at the Sheraton Harbor Island kitchens, cooks a “hybrid” menu for the Gaslamp Quarter’s glitzy new Stingaree, where the menu includes Niman Ranch pork chops with “caramelized Pink Ladies” (They’re apples.) . . . Among creative cocktails in the new Koi Lounge at La Jolla’s Zenbu is the Pink Lily, made with raspberry vodka, pink guava purée and other dicey stuff.
DID YOU GET YOUR 30 BUCKS’ WORTH during Restaurant Week 2006? Despite grumbles that a few restaurants got ’em in and got ’em out—and low-balled on menu items—the response from patrons and restaurateurs seemed overwhelmingly thumbs up. Packed nightly during the promotion, La Jolla’s Tapenade ran smoothly anyway, playing mostly to first-timers. “The regulars are staying home this week,” said a staffer, and the regulars sure missed out, since Jean-Michel Diot’s civet de sanglier (boar stew) may have been the dazzling dish of Restaurant Week . . . The bargains continue at Tapenade with a bar menu of half-price appetizers and entrées (steak frites with salad, for example) served during Monday-Thursday Happy Hours, 5- 8:30 p.m.
NEW OR NEWLY NAMED: Sculptures of Buddha line the entry to Lanna, chef/ proprietor Jack Jaroen’s new Thai eatery near Sushi Ota on Mission Bay Drive . . . Neiman’s, the downtown Carlsbad landmark once known as Twin Inns (and once famed for chicken dinners), has been upscaled into the new Ocean House.
NAMELY: Proprietor Bill Berkley named his extravagant new Jack’s La Jolla both for his father, Jack, and for his wife and three daughters, Jenny, Allison, Connie and Kelly . . . In foggy undergrad days, Dr. Brush taught painting, and Father Church taught theology. The theme of name-appropriate endeavors continues with Suzanne Fish, general manager of the Fish Market on Harbor Drive.