SOME AIRLINES PEDDLE aisle seats at a premium price, so why shouldn’t restaurants do the same with window tables? Marine Room guests always beg for these trophy spots by the crashing waves, so the restaurant now kindly allows them to order the Romance Package, a $90-per-person (wine, tax and tip extra) extravaganza that includes roses, a five-course tasting menu and a finale of seahorse-shape chocolates crafted by Chuao Chocolatier. A limited number of 6 and 8:30 p.m. seatings are available nightly. Note that while the package guarantees window seating, you still might score a prize table by saying “Please.”
CHEF JONATHAN PFLUEGER, who created contemporary menus for the remodeled Star of the Sea from 1994 to 1999, now is consulting chef at Hawthorn’s in the Stephen & Mary Birch North Park Theatre. “The idea is food and spirits of the Americas, approachable but with big, bold flavors,” says Pflueger, who offers hipster appetizers like ahi tartare with Pommery mustard, tapenade, red onions, capers and avocado. A few favorites from the old Fifth & Hawthorn (shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad) share the updated menu with inspirations like an exotic, intoxicating six-onion soup. “This restaurant is a great part of the redevelopment of North Park,” says Pflueger.
CRAZY FOR COCKTAILS? Not since the 1920s have bartenders had such a case of the shakes. Unfettered imaginations have devised potables like the Bangkok Beach iced tea poured at Rama; vodka, gin, mango rum, citrus-flavored tequila and flavorings fuel this daunting glass. At Modus, the “Bitter Bitch” mingles gin, grapefruit juice and rosemary in a sugared glass, while the black-walnut Manhattan sounds bizarre but is delicious. Blanca in Solana Beach lists martinis by color—the blue tints a combo of Absolut Kurant and Chambord liqueur with blue Curaçao. And Jack’s La Jolla has meandered pleasantly to the past by reintroducing such sibilant sippers as sazeracs, sidecars and Singapore slings.
HOW THEIR GARDEN GROWS is a matter of intense interest not only to a few hundred students at Morse High School but to such advocates of the use of top-quality produce as Jeff Jackson, Jason Seibert and Joe Cochran. Those chefs joined ranks recently at Region with chef/proprietors Michael Stebner and Ally Colwell to support Terra Nova, an acre-plus organic garden on the Skyline Hills campus. At a well-attended benefit, 20 students worked with the chefs to discuss the project, which is integrated into the school’s curriculum, and to prepare a variety of colorful dishes. “It’s important to teach kids where their food comes from,” says Stebner, who along with Jackson is a delegate to the October Tierra Madre food forum in Turin, Italy, sponsored by the Slow Food movement.
THE ENJOYABLE SERIES of “KPBS Celebrates: Food” benefits staged by the public-television station recently showcased Deborah MacDonald Schneider with a cooking demonstration that introduced her new cookbook, Baja! Cooking on the Edge. Under a searing sun on a terrace at La Costa Resort, Schneider provoked laughs by advising “always measure carefully” as she poured about a third of a bottle of mezcal into a racy marinade for pork loin.