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First Look: Born & Raised

They said don't do a steakhouse. So the damn kids did.


Following the crowd is a good way to find a crowd. But the truly successful have always zigged when the crowd zags. It’s the Frostian, road-less-traveled philosophy of doing shit right. So while every American restaurateur is going the fast-casual route, trying to become “the Chipotle of X cuisine,” it makes perfect sense that Consortium Holdings opens a $7 million, sit-down steakhouse with table-side food-art circus tricks.

Born & Raised is arguably the biggest opening of the year in San Diego, and Consortium (Neighborhood, Ironside, Underbelly, Craft & Commerce, Soda & Swine, Polite Provisions, etc.) is arguably one of the only local restaurant groups who could shoulder the significant investment.

The 10,000-square foot location (seats 200-250) at the corner of India and Fir in the middle of Little Italy is the Times Square of San Diego’s hottest restaurant neighborhood. Consortium helped bring the renaissance to the area, and they didn’t want the marquee spot in their hood to fall into less inspiring (corporate) hands. So they took on the gigantic project, and as usual, didn’t shave a single corner on the build-out with their long-term design guy, Paul Basile of Basile Studio.

It is your weird, arty friend’s steak house. The punks have scaled the walls of yet another stuffy institution. It’s custom-built with brass and walnut and green marble and camel leather and fur on the seats. Instead of oil paintings of old white men, a steakhouse staple, they have massive framed photos of gangster rap icons like Ol' Dirty Bastard. The upstairs (not yet finished) will be build like a garden from the atomic age, with black velvet booths and views of Downtown. It’s mid-century, it’s art deco, it’s the kind of place that’s built to outlive trends or whims.

For the menu, Michelin-star chef Jason McLeod are using a 40-foot, glassed-in dry-aging room to season their own steaks. The main menu will have all the classics (filet, New York, Flat Iron, Ribeye, Porterhouse, Ribeye, Tomahawk, etc.), plus specials like tournedos Rossini (foie gras, truffle, Madera), slow-roasted prime, rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and peppercorn sauce, steak Diane, and Wagyu. There’ll also be a vegan “steak Dyyyanne,” plus charcoal-roasted lamb, dry-aged duck, pork, roasted chicken, whole fish, caviar,and four different types of potatoes. Steak without potatoes, after all, is like eating cereal without milk.

On the apps section, you’ve got crab claws, crudo, lobster bisque, spaghetti (with uni, chile, and lemon), dry-aged meatballs, escargot, and a French Onion soup.

And then the tableside presentations, on ornate-as-hell carts—hand-tossing Caesar salads, omelets, mushroom tartare, steak tartare, shrimp Louie, etc.

The whole idea is a grand, elaborate investment in America’s past. The steakhouse is as much an American tradition as jazz and blues. And CH is a sucker for near-lost American pastimes (soda fountains, speakeasies, meatballs, etc.). 

Multiple restaurateurs I spoke with about this project seem to think that CH is crazy for trying to pull it off. In the current industry trend toward casualization and the rise of vegetarianism and yoga pantsism, it’s a risk. Then again, they said the same thing when CH opened a craft beer bar (Neighborhood) before craft beer was really a “thing.” And they said the same when they opened a cocktail bar (Craft & Commerce) and refused to serve America’s favorite spirit, vodka.

Let the grand experiment that is CH continue on.

Enough talk. Please enjoy the first photos of Born & Raised, opening this weekend if all goes right.

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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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