Food You Can Wear
IF YOU MUST GET EGG ON YOUR FACE, do it on the terrace at The Atoll, the Mission Bay–facing restaurant at the Catamaran. The fried egg layered above sliced tur - key, crisp bacon and so forth in the restaurant’s untraditional club sandwich cleverly ratchets up the interest, as does the garlic aioli that stands in for plain old mayo. The aioli bubbles up through holes in the toasted artisan bread, however, resulting in so impressive a case of sticky fingers that you long for a swimsuit——so you could jump in the bay and wash off . .. Absolutely do not wear anything stainable to the new Brett’s BBQ on Encinitas Boulevard near El Camino Real, which is a great deal more spacious and comfy than the original Brett’s in 4S Ranch, and just as wonderful. The ribs, pulled pork and chopped beef brisket are as drippy as they are good, especially when they luxuriate in Brett’s just-dandy sauce . . . Since a fire flummoxed the venerable and funky Kansas City Barbecue downtown, plans are for the joint to make like a phoenix. A banner hung along Market Street announces, “Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated. We’ll be back (as soon as we can)!” . . . Take heart, you who made souvenirs of gumbo-stained shirts when Bud’s Louisiana Food Shoppe in Little Italy suddenly closed. They now can double as canvases for crayfish étouffé and shrimp Creole at Bud’s Louisiana Café in Tierrasanta (10425 Tierra santa Boulevard, 858-573-2837), where New Orleans native Bud Deslatte (who says he is attempting “semi-retirement”) cooks a limited schedule of lunch Tuesday through Thursday and dinner Thursday-Saturday.
BUZZ BOMBS: Since nobody wants to swim across San Diego Bay, the Coronado Bridge provides a handy way to reach the peninsula’s booming restaurant row. Burger Lounge, the high-quality “premium” patty place that premiered in La Jolla and expanded to Kensington, just opened on Orange Avenue, next to the old Coronado Theater . . . Roberto Vigilucci reportedly has targeted Coronado for his empire’s next outpost . . . Moe Sadighian, chef-owner of five upscale Tijuana restaurants, recently opened Tabule Restaurant & Bar on a prime Fourth Avenue block in the Gaslamp Quarter. The fusion menu tosses together enough elements to make conventioneers wonder if they’ve departed San Diego. Among start - ers are shrimp tacos garnished with Port Salut cheese and, sometimes, an abalone ceviche that sells for around $150 per portion . . . New bars and eateries keep sprouting around Petco Park, despite the fact that baseball plays but half the year. Cater-corner to Basic Urban Kitchen at 10th and J, The Corner occupies soaring, loft-like space on the second floor of the Icon development. Living room–style seating is just right for enjoying cool brews, custom-built burgers and sweet-potato fries.
MASTERS OF CUISINE: Who’s best at perfecting pasta? Maybe Bryant Wigger of Vivace at Four Seasons Resort Aviara. After obtaining an authentic Italian pasta extruder, the young chef embarked on “quite an adventure,” experimenting with items like sweet-pea spaghetti and eggplant fettuccini and switching to organic eggs and flour. His research yielded yummy stuff like saffron pappardelle with short-rib Bolognese, and squid-ink spaghetti with shrimp and Calabrese sausage. Bucatini may be the most fun pasta ever. This fat version of spaghetti with a hole bored down the center (a task once performed by Italian elves but now handled by Wigger’s pasta press) is tossed with ultra-spicy tomato sauce and buttery baby octopus. Magnifico! . . . Start with textbook-perfect foie gras at Philippe Verpiand’s sweet Cavaillon in Santaluz, end with pistachio profiteroles, and you hardly need an entrée——but why miss out on the Petrale sole à la plancha? . . . Kudos to Tony Buonsante and son John for 20 years of gracious hospitality——and savory quail-stuffed ravioli——at their quaint, quiet Sante in La Jolla . . . Kids, don’t try this at home (but you could!). Damon Gordon recently composed a daring “martini tasting menu” for a party at The Ivy’s Quarter Kitchen, and yes, the Bacardi Limon mojito-tini nicely lubricated succulent roasted sea bass with sorrel and caviar.
Side Dish: Pool Party
TREY HARTINGER ISN’T JUST one-up on a deuce, he’s the third chef in the thus-far brief history of The Pearl. Third time’s the lucky charm for this one-of-a-kind boite in the swanked-up Pearl Hotel near Shelter Island, a smallish motel that Los Angeles developers boldly delivered from 1960s blandness to 21st-century hiptitude. It’s cute, especially for its diminutive dimensions. “What a fun, funky little place!” exclaimed a guest as he entered the front door, which simultaneously opens to the lobby and the bar. The bar in turn opens to the pool, where there are a few dinner tables. Across the water, between rooms 10 and 11, a screen is mounted for occasional “movie and dinner” evenings, and good times roll when the vintage flicks commence around dusk. “I actually enjoy coming to work,” said the waiter as he took orders for salty-sweet Carlsbad oysters on the half-shell, a handsome salad of lettuces from La Milpa Organica farm, the day’s special (meat loaf ——not bad, but not your mom’s), and chubby home - made doughnut holes served in a puddle of hot chocolate ganache. A lot of us might enjoy working at The Pearl.