Limonz and Lemon Aid
AMID THE BURGER ’N’ WING JOINTS in Pacific Beach, a new salad eatery that emphasizes local produce and healthy fare seems to be thriving. Operated by brothers Juan and Bobby Pasalagua, Limonz Gourmet Salads (978 Garnet Avenue) offers baby romaine imaginatively tossed with bananas, dried cranberries and peanut butter dressing, as well as a hearty tumble of grilled rib-eye, veggies and Argentina-style chimichurri sauce . . . Chris Walsh, the amiable kitchen dude at Bite Bistro & Wine Bar in Hillcrest, recently introduced the Sunday Lemon Aid Stand to assist a host of charities. Each week’s beneficiary garners every cent (more than $300, on average) generated by the $4 16-ounce strawberry and pomegranate lemonades, sold by volunteers representing such worthies as the Challenged Athletes’ Foundation . . . As you might guess, the cherry ’n’ cranberry–flavored Pink Ribbon Bagels introduced by the Panera Bread chain partly benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (and partly Panera).
THE MELTING POT BUBBLES merrily in Old Town State Park, where the state parks department’s “Re-create olde San Diego or else” rules (which gave us the locally beloved, internationally celebrated Plaza del Pasado) dictate the floor-length prairie skirts worn by waitresses at Mrs. Trimmer’s. In the modest structure that in the mid-1870s housed Prussian immigrant David Trimmer, wife Juana and their eight children, Mrs. Trimmer’s claims to have created a “new rancho Californian style of cuisine.” Okay, provided you accept beer-battered onion rings and shrimp cocktail as period fare. Then again, the menu suggests made-at-table guacamole, carne asada with all the trimmings and queso fundido with chorizo. Is the Caesar frontera salad “localized” with cornbread croutons and pumpkin seeds an authentic period dish? Nah, but tourists might think so. San Diegans know that this very Italian fave was introduced at Caesar Cardini’s Tijuana restaurant in the early 1930s . . . Use olive oil to unstick balky zippers and silence squeaky doors, suggests the Temecula Olive Oil Company, which operates a retail shop/tasting room in Plaza del Pasado. You also can enjoy their line of specialty oils (blood oranges memorably flavor the Citrus Reserve) in culinary creations . . . Always make sure the cap is tight before you shake the Worcestershire sauce.
MASTERS OF CUISINE: Jeffrey Strauss, the canny teddy bear of a chef who seems to cook for the joy of it, knows how to keep his Pamplemousse Grille humming. He cheerfully underwrites charities (some related to the Del Mar Racetrack, which is across the street) and delights rich clients who request off-menu items like sublimely luxurious paella (priced around $100) and a $50 grilled cheese sandwich built of brioche, truffled cheese and lobster. On a menu replete with perfectly executed dishes, one standout is a bone-in veal chop that is pounded thin, lightly breaded, delicately crisped, finished with mozzarella and tomato sauce and served with sautéed spinach. After this, try ordering veal parmigiana anywhere else . . . To introduce himself, new Modus chef Caesar Curiel served a food-and-cocktail supper that concluded with a chocolate-bacon pot de crème and a Divine Brown Manhattan . . . Timothy Ralphs, well remembered from Top o’ the Cove, now wears the executive chef’s toque at Loews Coronado Bay Resort . . . Wolfgang Puck designed the original concept for Rancho Santa Fe’s chic Delicias, where Puck-trained chef Michael Knowles now helms the kitchen . . . Peripatetic chef/res tau ra teur Melvin Johnson has brought his tasty Southern fare to Beach-N-Diner in Coronado . . . Many months after the departure of Gavin Kaysen, Argentina-born chef Steven Rojas (his credits include kitchen time at the Michelin three-star Martin Berasategui in north-western Spain) has made El Bizcocho the first local luxury house to offer tasting menus exclusively.
CHEFS PATISSIERES Karen Krasne and Michele Cou lon may not be shaking in their clogs just yet, but they face some righteous competition in speak-softly-but-carry-a-big-whisk Thomas Gerard. The 20-something genius behind the pastry case at Hillcrest’s new Mille Feuille comes from St. Pierre de Chandieu, the same talent-rearing village near Lyons, France, to which New York is indebted for super-chef Daniel Boulud. Mille Feuille co-proprietor Matt O’Leary, who formerly managed David Bouley’s celebrated Manhattan bakery, recruited Gerard to craft pastries as pretty as this elegant boite, whose retro-chic look recalls an upper-crust tea room in pre–World War II London. On a wall sur faced in tiles etched with leaves and vines, “Mille Feuille” is spelled out in chocolate script surrounded by a mint-green border. This cool color repeats in square vases that host tiny flowers, stylish napkin rings and designer neckties that servers wear with white shirts, black trousers and long ebony aprons. Chocolate makes a rich splurge of the Dark Knight (chocolate sponge cake, mousse and glaze), coats handcrafted vanilla creams and stars in nutcrusted truffles. Pastel macaroons are crisp, tender and filled with dabs of jam, although Gerard can get weird with these; he invented a bubblegum-flavored, Pop Rocks–crusted version that he says “explodes in your mouth and kind of tickles.” Displayed like luxury goods in a Rue Royale shop, his gorgeous pastries beckon through the day and include the cake-and-mousse Apricot Summer, perfect lemon tarts and the Sweet Dream of cinnamon sponge cake layered with strawberry jelly and champagne mousse. On the lovely lunch menu, quiches join a selection of creative sandwiches built on house-baked breads. 3896 Fifth Avenue, 619-295-5232.