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FIRST LOOK: Campfire

Carlsbad gets one hell of a new spot from Craft & Commerce vet


My lamentations about the lack of good dining options in North County are being attacked day by day. The news of Campfire opening in Carlsbad, for instance. This is big for the sleepy coastal beach burgh, and one of the most anticipated openings of the year.

Campfire is the project from one of the best front-of-house men in San Diego—John Resnick, who spent years opening the hyper-creative concepts of Consortium Holdings (Craft & Commerce, Ironside Fish & Oyster). Campfire is the first project of his own, a 6,000 square-footer in the former home of an auto shop. Instead of doing it in hipsterville, he smartly brought it to a part of town that isn’t flooded with creative concepts.

Just like Consortium projects, Campfire is big on design. They tapped local firm Bells + Whistles (Bracero, Starlite) to create a rustic spot intended to evoke the times you and the fam spent those vacations camping in the great outdoors.

The main building is a WWII-era Quonset hut with corrugated metal arch salvaged from the Camp Pendleton Marine base up the street. There’s a handmade, 12-foot banquette from San Diego designers Bradley Mountain, a 25-seat copper bar, a three-dimensional wood-carved mural of a mountainscape, and, outside, a 12-foot custom teepee for the kids.

The menu from executive chef Andrew Bachelier (ex-Cucina Enoteca and Addison) will be open-fire on a custom 12-foot hearth powered by a Grillworks grill that'll burn wood, charcoal, embers, and ash. That means a lot of roast and smoke on dishes like duck liver pate with grilled date, pecans, red wine and griddled bread; carrots with goat cheese, licorice, honey and almond; long beans with opah belly, soft-boiled egg, olives and shallots; seafood pozole with mussels, white fish, calico corn and guajillo chile; leg of lamb with Sea Island red peas, lettuce, goat milk and pistachio; and, of course, s’mores with five-spice graham phylo dough, chocolate and marshmallow.

For cocktails, they’ve pulled one of Consortium’s better talents, Leigh Lacap, who created drinks for Ironside, Sycamore Den, and Coin-Op. He’ll be putting a little camp into the glass, too, with a whole section of drinks called “From the Fire.” Drinks like “Roasted Corn” with tequila, charcoal, lime and salt; or the “Smoked Almond” with mezcal, rice, pecan, lime and cinnamon. Don’t be scared—he’ll also have a “Shaken & Refreshing” selection of cocktails, as well as a “Stirred & Direct” for spirit heads.

Campfire debuts on Sept. 14, and will be open 11 a.m.-midnight on Sun-Thur, and 11 a.m.-1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

2725 State Street, Carlsbad, 760.637.5121. thisiscampfire.com.

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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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