New & Notable for October 2011
Restaurant débuts, menu changes, and trend tracking
The House of Blues launched a new restaurant concept last month called Crossroads, developed by celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez. The new menu, still rooted in Southern classics, will be rolled out in other HOB locations later this year.
Blanca has closed in Solana Beach, but chef Gavin Schmidt says his team is looking to open a restaurant with a new concept in Mission Hills or Little Italy in 2012.
The owners of shuttered Trattoria Acqua in La Jolla have leased space in Mission Hills and plan to open a gastropub called Brooklyn Girl later this fall.
Berkeley Pizza has opened its first storefront location in the Gaslamp, hoping to serve the slew of regulars who buy by the slice at local farmers markets.
Davanti Enoteca is now open in Little Italy, serving up hearty Italian small plates. Risotto with veal reduction, flatbread laced with creamy cheese and honeycomb, and polenta finished tableside with a meaty ragu-of-the-day are some of our early favorites.
Smelled heaven in the East Village recently? It’s likely coming from Homies, a new restaurant and bakery specializing in classic cinnamon rolls. Buy a fresh one with coffee in the morning, or pre-order a dozen for the office. They also serve other breakfast and lunch basics.
Harbor Town should be open in Point Loma (in the former Roseville space) by the end of the month, according to owner Chad Cline. The plan is simple: burgers, salads, beers, and a historic fishing village vibe, akin to Cline’s other successful establishment, The Waterfront in Little Italy.
Hot Dish: Padrón Peppers
These tasty long-stemmed peppers have been cropping up as popular starters on menus everywhere from Sea Rocket Bistro to Searsucker, Blind Lady Ale House to A.R. Valentien. The tender, thin-skinned peppers are named after a town in Spain where a Pimiento de Padrón festival is held every year. Harvested locally by several farms, including Suzie’s Farm and Temecula’s Crows Pass Farm, they start in the summer and go right through fall, thanks to our sunshine.
Ideally picked when they’re barely bite-sized and have yet to mature from green to red, flavorful Padrón peppers are typically pretty mild, though there’s likely to be an errant hot one in every bunch; eating a plateful of them can be like playing hot pepper roulette—you may get an occasional capsaicin sting.
If you find them at a farmers market near you, heat a pan with a little oil until screaming hot, then toss around the peppers until they begin to blister and soften. Season with crunchy sea salt and enjoy them as they do in Spain, with a glass of dry sherry or a crisp white wine like an Albariño... or eat them San Diego-style: with a local beer. // Candice Woo
The Sip: From Vine to Tap
Tap a keg and out may pour a Pale Ale or... a Pinot Noir? What was once a format used exclusively for beer or soda is now an up-and-coming way to serve wine at bars and restaurants, with benefits for the wine-maker, retailer, and consumer.
Reusable stainless steel kegs—the most common size is five gallons, the equivalent of 25 wine bottles—reduce packaging costs for the wineries and cut down on waste for restaurants. An opened bottle of wine may oxidize in a few days, but a keg of wine dispenses through a low-pressure system that uses a gas to push through and preserve the wine far longer.
Find “draft wine” at Wine Steals locations and at North Park’s Urban Solace—their wine coordinator, Young-Mi Gordon, recently installed a 12-handle wine cask at their newly-opened Solace & the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas. Tiger!Tiger! will open with a sweet lineup of both draft beer and wine.
Valley Center’s Triple B Ranches and Vesper Vineyards are leading the local charge. Chris Broomell is the vintner for both labels, and he and his wife, Alysha, keg a third of each winery’s production. Four of his wines, including Vesper’s 2009 Highland Hills Vineyard Alcalá and a 2009 Merlot from Triple B, are featured in The Linkery’s draft wine system, where owner Jay Porter is looking forward to carrying locally-kegged wines from a standpoint of both sustainability and value; serving keg wine will enable the restaurant to offer $15-per-glass-quality for $10 a glass and less. // CW