Duke-ing It Out

The long-awaited Duke’s La Jolla is a winner

By Wendy Lemlin

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     I’ve always been a fan of Chef Anthony Sinsay.  Since I first tasted his creations at Harney Sushi, where he was one of San Diego’s first chefs to experiment with the then-P1150666revolutionary magic of “molecular gastronomy”, and later at the now-defunct Burlap, I’ve been more than a little in awe of his ability to coax multi-layers of flavor from relatively simple ingredients.  I was expecting great things from him at the newly opened Duke’s La Jolla, but even so, on my recent visit I was wowed by how the Exec Chef is able to let his sparkling culinary personality shine within the confines of a corporately owned restaurant group with numerous eateries in California and Hawaii. I think his creativity will be very instrumental in modernizing the traditional menus of a long standing brand. Continue reading

Bracero Brings It!

by Wendy Lemlin

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After months of delays, and about a year of anticipation, Bracero Cocina de Raiz finally opened in mid July. The first restaurant in San Diego proper by Baja mega celeb chef Javier Plascencia (Romesco in Bonita, Mision 19 and Erizo in Tijuana, and Finca Altozano in the Valle de Guadalupe) and partner Luis Peña, opened its Little Italy doors to much foodie-world buzz and advance reservations booked several months out.

Was it worth the wait? In a word, yes!

Continue reading

San Diego Restaurant Round Up

By Wendy Lemlin

Spring has sprung,

the grass has ris,

this is where the good food is!

Spring always means a flurry of restaurant happenings, new seasonal menus, and new openings.  Here are some of the goings on in the San Diego Restaurant scene. Continue reading

Baja Food & Wine Week at Dobson’s

By Wendy Lemlin

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If you love the sophisticated side of Baja food and wines—or haven’t experienced it yet and want to see what all the accolades are about—-you’re in luck! All this week, from March 9-14, the iconic Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant takes diners’ palates south of the border with a four course prix fixe dinner paired with the renowned wines of the Guadalupe Valley.

Created by Chef Martin San Roman, the menu and wine pairings look like this: Continue reading

Fairwell to Zarco

by Wendy Lemlin

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   I still dream about the Tiradito de la Casa that I relished on my first trip to Zarco, Cocina de Baja in Chula Vista. The tender slices of hamachi crudo, the smokey chunks of grilled octopus, the delicate citrus of the yuzu sauce combined with just a hint of bite from two separate peppers— all had the unmistakable signature of Chef Flor Franco’s creative palette and totally appealed to my own particular palate. I’m not much of a wine connoisseur, (I know that may seem odd for a food writer), but it seemed to me that the wine list, carefully curated by Fernando Gaxiola of Baja Wine +Food, perfectly represented why wines from the Valle de Guadalupe are such a hot commodity these days.

Today Chef Franco and Gaxiola announced that they were no longer involved with Zarco.

In a statement, the pair said “We’re so grateful for the support and love we’ve received since opening Zarco this past September. Unfortunately, due to fundamental differences with our partners about how the restaurant should be managed, we’ve decided to discontinue our involvement with the project. It is important to mention that we do believe in the concept, and in the idea of bringing Baja and its culinary treasures to the US. Chef Flor Franco will continue focusing on her projects in Mexico and San Diego.”

Franco went on to elaborate, “Zarco was a passion project for me: the intersection of soulful Baja-style food, wine and bountiful ingredients and products from the region. I am grateful for the purveyors and other people we met while building the concept and I will continue to focus my energy on projects on both sides of the border, including Indulge Contemporary Catering, Baja Wine + Food, and Convivia at Encuentro in the Valle de Guadalupe. As always, my deeper creative compass is spinning within me, so I’ll keep you updated on what I’m working on.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes next!

 

Chef Flor Franco

Chef Flor Franco

Fusion Tapas at Cueva Bar

by Wendy Lemlin

Interior of Cueva Bar

Interior of Cueva Bar

Ok, so I guess I’m pretty late to the party, because, despite the fact it’s been around for a few years, I just recently discovered Cueva Bar, an absolute gem of a tapas and wine bar in University Heights.  I’d walked by it on several occasions as I was coming or going from the summer concerts at Old Trolley Barn Park, but, maybe because I don’t live in the neighborhood and am not over that way too often, I somehow missed the fact that Cueva Bar is a perfect place for tapas. And wine. And more tapas. Continue reading