This Bud’s for You
IF BUD DESLATTE had accompanied Moses on that 40-year trek through the desert, it might have become a world tour. The peripatetic restaurateur, whose Creole roots plunge through Louisiana’s swampy soil down to bedrock, must enjoy marching, because he frequently is on the move. Familiar to San Diegans since the 1980s, when his Bayou Bar & Grille became an early success in the Gaslamp Quarter, Deslatte has opened and sold (or closed) numerous eateries. He sold Bayou at the crest of profitability and moseyed to Portland to succor damp Oregonians with piquant New Orleans fare. His return several years ago made San Diegans rejoice a few at a time, since the minuscule proportions of Bud’s Louisiana Food Shoppe on Kettner Boulevard prevented larger-scale revelry. Decamping to almost-as-cramped quarters in Tierrasanta didn’t really help, so at the end of March, Bud moved again.
Will he make a habit of paying rent on his new, cheery Bud’s Louisiana Kitchen in Kearny Mesa? (As unlikely as the industrial-park venue may seem, the brief glide up Balboa Avenue from I-15 is superbly convenient for drivers; 4320 Viewridge Avenue, 858-573-2837, budscafe.com.)
“Bud has told me ‘This is it’ at the last four places,” says partner Robert Adams, who supervises the dining room and enjoys the spacious new digs, which fans have thronged from day one. For his part, Deslatte marches around the kitchen, masterfully building monumental po’ boy sandwiches while wondrous seafood gumbos and crawfish étouffées brew lazily at the back of the stove. Maybe someone should nail his shoes to the floor.
THE NOSE KNOWS: One juicy tattle: An uptown restaurateur confides that kitchen staffers from a nearby establishment like to slip into his bar for a couple of Happy Hour cocktails before their own dinner “rush” begins. Sure hope they do all the necessary slicing and dicing before getting shaken, not stirred ... It’s not nice to gossip—and this one happened a while back—but the time has come to dish a pompous, Europe-born chef. Early in his brief career at a prestigious North County hotel, the fellow told the restaurant staff, “The customers have the money in their pockets, and we must learn to pick these pockets.” Concerned with boosting his annual bonus by curtailing food costs, he one day emptied the vast walk-in refrigerator and separated some spoiled meats into a nasty pile. “We’ll make a pâté, and no one will ever know,” he informed his horrified cooks, who fled the kitchen when rotten odors began flowing from the oven. The effort earned him a pink slip.
DIVE-IN MOVE: Lesley and David Cohn, whose genius for theme eateries built San Diego’s largest independent restaurant empire on the shoulders of a little burger place called Rory’s, don’t sit still. Having just remade their long-running Dakota Grill in the Gaslamp into The Melting Pot fondue restaurant, the pair has teamed with designer Michael Soriano to redo Mister Tiki, one block south on Fifth Avenue, into Analog Burger Bar, which Lesley says “will combine a dive bar with style and classical music.”
HE ALREADY HAS A NIGHT JOB, but during the day, multitalented Olivier Bioteau crafts the deluxe, delicious (and consequently costly) chocolates sold by the piece at Alex Minutella’s Chocolat cafés in the Gaslamp and Hillcrest. Not the best-known culinary name in San Diego, Bioteau is celebrated by devotees of his diminutive Farmhouse Café on Adams Avenue, where six nights a week he serves unrivaled steak-frites and other delightful fare. Meanwhile, Minutella, realizing that man does not live by chocolate alone (though it might be fun to try), has acquired a liquor license for his Gaslamp sweetery and installed the tiniest of bars ... Legions of loyalists reportedly rallied to support Mike and Victoria McGeath when they were threatened with the loss of the lease on their 14-year-old Trattoria Acqua above La Jolla Cove. Phone calls to the landlord helped—but probably not as much as the McGeaths’ agreement to a 20 percent rent increase ... Chef Nino Zizzo, of the restaurant-gifted Busalacchi family, has added some sizzle to his uncle Joe’s Po Pazzo in Little Italy; Nino’s cousin Joey B. keeps the service staff in stride ... There are wine dinners, and then there is “The Artisan Table” series, to be served on the terrace of A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. Jeff Jackson will design market-driven, multicourse meals to accompany California vintages presented by such owner/winemakers as Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat (June 3, $110 per person), and Dennis Cakebread of the Cakebread winery (July 8, $110).
Made with Love
DO NOT DISTURB Fabrizio Cavallini when he’s locked away in his pasta “laboratory,” where he creates all kinds of good things for the customers of Guido and Valentina di Pietro’s new Bencotto. Located around the bend and down the hall from the second-story dining room (the kitchen, bar and smaller dining spaces occupy the ground floor), the Little Italy lab is Cavallini’s lair, where he toils in painterly seclusion preparing such specialties as the Emilia-Romagna-style ravioli di magro (“fast-day ravioli”), little packets of egg dough gorged with ricotta, spinach and Parmigiano. The menu refers to this and other varieties as “la pasta fatta in casa” (homemade pasta), but it equally well could describe them as handmade — and con amore, at that.