Home Cooking on the Roof
PASS THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS (but not to me). Home cooking isn’t quite a thing of the past, but the only way some of us will get gravy stains on our shirts is by dining out. In early November, Jeff Rossman introduced home-style “Sunday suppers” at his Terra in Hillcrest’s Uptown Center. The chef/restaurateur offers these comfortably priced, family-style meals ($19.95 over 12, $10.95 under) in the belief that children who dine en famille lead happier and healthier lives. Entrées vary weekly and include pot roast, turkey and braised short ribs, with easygoing sides like honey-glazed carrots and garlicky mashed potatoes. “I might do lobster pot pie sometimes,” muses Rossman; if he does, make reservations . . . It’s a good thing he also likes rollerblading, since he needs wheels to keep up with himself. Rossman’s new Shalom Catering Company is one of two kosher caterers launched in 2007; the other, Simcha San Diego Kosher Catering, provides competition with concepts like the novel “Shabbat-in-a-Box,” which they plan to offer later this year as family-style Sabbath meals ready for pickup before Friday religious services . . . Families in the kitchen: The impressively credentialed Eva Wren at Point Loma’s new Restaurant at the Pearl (she’s a specialist in charcuterie, pastries and traditional French cuisine) has hired hubby Ragan Wren as her sous-chef.
WITH CREAM AND SUGAR——and a grain of salt——Maryjane’s Coffee Shop at the Gaslamp Quarter’s sizzling Hard Rock Hotel offers ordinary stiffs the chance to hang at the same digs where rock-star types will drop big bucks at Nobu, the Asian-fusion restaurant that links San Diego to the hot dining scenes of New York and London. With décor that somewhat updates the Jetsons——rich woods, walls paved in stone mosaics, starburst-like lighting fixtures——Maryjane’s has fun with the Fifties. But it also gets an edge from Andy Warhol serigraphs of Mick and Marilyn. And in the booths, TV monitors playing Hard Rock music performances replace the jukebox record selectors of 1950s coffee shops. Maryjane’s offers breakfast through the day, and yes, the buttermilk pancakes are sensational, even if the accompanying bottles of Log Cabin and Aunt Jemima syrups seem a tad kitschy. The menu lists “bad advice” as free, as it was when a waitress cheerfully recommended the chicken club sandwich. A daunting mess of sourdough slabs, grilled chicken breast and other stuff, it went back to the kitchen untouched (and was graciously replaced with another item). Good bets include the steak-frites, chicken “pop” pie and strawberry short cake built on Maryjane’s fluffy biscuits . . . Surely by coincidence, Quarter Kitchen at Ivy Hotel chose the same night as the Nobu opening to host a chic gathering that introduced a new menu embroidered with treats like suavely creamy lobster soup, leek-and-cheese empanadas with truffle sauce and, no kidding, spaghetti and meatballs.
THE SIGN IN THE WINDOW at the First National Lofts on Broadway at Fifth says “Save the Suburbs: Move In.” But the traffic evidently travels on a two-way street, because the ’burbs are coming downtown: Yellow awnings and a Fuddrucker’s sign have been mounted just above.
Bowling for Burgers
ONE DRIZZLY Saturday afternoon, a process of selection seemed afoot among the predominately 20-ish and male patrons watching college football at East Village Tavern + Bowl (930 Market Street, San Diego; 619-677-2695). Of 27 men (employees excluded) at the novel and rather fun bowling alley/bar/feedery, 16 wore ball caps. No fewer than 13 caps were black. The others variously flamed sunset-orange, dallied with the Dodgers and fence-straddled between sandstone and putty. An observer who parked his Padres cap alongside him noted that every black cap wearer also wore a black T-shirt (none honored the Raiders), a color-coordinated phenomenon deeply suggestive of: What? It might have seemed that Coco Chanel had contrived to dictate younger America’s sartorial standards from beyond the grave, had it also seemed possible that any of these guys could identify the doyenne of Rue Cambon. Six escorted girlfriends (not one of whom sported a ball cap), and all occupied themselves with hot panini, cold brews, onion rings and loudly televised football. When the waitress deposited a tall stack of napkins on the table, the warning was clear: The half-pound Tavern burger with Cheddar, grilled onions and applewood-smoked bacon ($8.75) would be mercilessly messy. Served on a paper-lined metal tray, the medium-rare sandwich oozed juices, and even when quartered and consumed somewhat decorously (other patrons used the two-fisted approach, drips be damned), it required a half-dozen napkins to get safely to the last glorious bite.