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STISH STASH, I was takin’ a bath,
down in Mission Valley last night.
Got hungry for a steak, said,
‘Give yourself a break’—
and unimaginatively lapsing into prose, headed over to the Hilton
San Diego Mission Valley.”


As part of an $11 million makeover, the 20-year-old hotel has opened a new restaurant-cum-lounge with the curious name of Stish—a distillation of “steak and fish.” Chef Nicolas Villamil’s menu reads quite well, with a lobster-and-tortilla chowder, the “Stish Stacked Cobb” of lobster layered with other goodies, and main events like filet mignon and sautéed salmon with baby greens. The bar list turns sunward with the Hemingway El Floridita cocktail and pisco sours . . . Some restaurant meals can be pretty scary, but there’s nothing spooky about the series of monthly “Table of Terroir” wine dinners commencing October 3 at Savory Casual Fare in Encinitas. Except for the price, perhaps: $290 per person, inclusive (the prices of future dinners, always to be held on the first Tuesday of the month, will vary with the selection of wines). In French, “le gout de terroir” means “the taste of the soil,” and the first multicourse dinner will contrast how this taste influences superb wines from different areas of Bordeaux. Vintages from Burgundy and Champagne will star at future events. . . . Speaking of costly repasts, enjoying breakfast and cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvres at the Britt Scripps Inn on Bankers Hill costs a couple anywhere from $299 to $600, a price that also includes a room in this handsome bed-and-breakfast. New chef Susan Brandon harvests herbs and some veggies from the inn’s garden to prepare savory items like an omelet with pesto, pancetta and roasted tomatoes . . . And speaking of tomatoes, do you see red when a breakfast waiter puts down a bottle of ketchup alongside your French toast?

MORE OR LESS? It’s almost certainly in bad taste to share the contents of press releases, but some are so funny that to keep them private would be supremely selfish. Down at 10th and J near Petco Park, a brick warehouse has been converted into Basic Urban Kitchen & Bar, a sparely decorated “industrial lounge” that embodies the concept “less really is more.” How much less adds up to so much more? Well, there’s a pool table, and the place serves pizza, period; toppings range from eggplant to old standbys like sausage and meatballs. While you might expect Basic to fill with post-game fans feasting on pepperoni pies and beer, the release assures us that the pizza-only menu is “revitalizing to in-the-know socialites.” So don’t be surprised when the guys in ball caps get shouldered out by Paris Hilton and her pals . . . It runs just from 5 until 6 p.m. weekdays, but the new Happy Hour at The Oceanaire Seafood Room features 10 appetizers priced progressively from $1 (which buys an oyster) to $10 for a king crab–bay shrimp salad. Specialty cocktails cost $7, including the “Trixie Tini” of orange vodka and raspberry liqueur (okay, you can have a cosmo instead) . . . The Twiggs Café atop Cortez Hill has morphed into Sole Luna Café, a genial joint run by two guys from Italy who assemble some mean panini. Built on long, crisp rolls, the sandwiches boast top-quality meats and cheeses; the “Rustico” combines speck (smoked prosciutto) with olive paste, goat cheese and some greenery. And if that’s rustic, I’m moving to the country right now. The menu continues with antipasti plates, clever salads, good wines and a la dolce vita mood.

CARL SCHROEDER, where Arterra thou? Well, Carl has moved on to Blackhorse Grille, which he and a backer took over from Sami Ladeki just in time for racing season. The La Jolla–bred chef made an unexpected hit of Arterra, the Bradley Ogden–supervised dining room at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar. And to put it mildly, the Ogden chain wasn’t glad to see him go. Not to worry. Sous-chef Brian Pekarcik now wears the top toque, and he impressed recently with an artfully presented dish of lobster in chile-vanilla vinaigrette paired with a chilled (and way cool) soup of Chino’s melon.

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