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Food and Drink Blotter: Sept. 2013

Posted: September 3rd, 2013 | Featured, Food & Drink, Food & Drink Blotter | 1 Comment

Frank Sabatini Jr. | Downtown News

A bevy of Downtown restaurants are jumping into to spotlight for this month’s countywide San Diego Restaurant Week (Sept. 15 through 20). Since its start in 2004, the event has evolved into a twice-annual event, attracting more than 200 restaurants from North County to Coronado. Participating restaurants offer consumers prix fixe menus for either lunch, dinner or both at costs ranging from $20 to $40. No tickets or passes are required. Among the Downtown establishments taking part are Nobu San Diego, RA Sushi Bar Restaurant, Jsix, Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar, Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Acqua Al 2 and the new Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse. The event is produced by the California Restaurant Association.

A kickoff pre-tasting party for the event will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., Sept. 16 at the Broadway Pier. About 40 restaurants will team up with dozens of local breweries as they dole out samples to attendees. The cost is $60. For more information and a complete list of Restaurant Week participants, visit sandiegorestaurantweek.com.

A double nightspot with curious names recently arrived in the heart of the Gaslamp District. (Photo courtesy of Bolin Baugh/Emblem PR)

A double nightspot with curious names recently arrived in the heart of the Gaslamp District. (Photo courtesy of Bolin Baugh/Emblem PR)

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Los Angeles bar impresarios Dave Whitton and Aidan Demarest have made their first San Diego foray into the Gaslamp District with two live-music nightspots and a pizzeria, all semi-connected within the same address. Set within a historic structure built in 1895, and adjacent to the Keating Hotel, the venture features a cocktail-centric bar with a sexy, dark atmosphere called Frauds and Swindlers. Ascend one floor up and you’ve entered into Two Fingers Upstairs, a “neat spirits” bar catering to those who prefer sipping their liquors straight up. The design inside Two Fingers includes old church pews and an eye-catching painting of a devil. Both venues feature live-music stages for rockabilly and bluegrass performances.

Back on ground level is The Italian Next Door, where local Chef Patrick Ponsaty (formerly of Mistral at Lowe’s Coronado) has begun dishing up pizzas that can be consumed on the front patio or towed inside either of the bars. 820 Fifth Ave., 619-814-5700.

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The upcoming Chef Showdown promises plenty of culinary theatrics and food samplings. (Courtesy Center for Community Services)

The upcoming Chef Showdown promises plenty of culinary theatrics and food samplings. (Courtesy Center for Community Services)

Mixologists Jeff Josenhans and Jamie Glages from Grant Grill are joining forces to compete in this year’s ninth annual Chef Showdown, which benefits domestic violence prevention programs at the Center for Community Solutions. The theatrical, outdoor event, scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m., Sept. 26, at NTC Promenade in Point Loma, involves two teams of local chefs and mixologists cranking out multiple courses based on a secret ingredient revealed at the start of the competition.

Chef Anthony Sinsay from LaVilla in Little Italy is among the team members, along with other top chefs from around San Diego such as Joe Magnanelli of Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill and Amy Dibiase of Baleen in Mission Bay. The judging panel includes Ingrid Croce of Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar and Chef Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room. In addition, this year’s celebrity emcees are Food Network’s Marcella Valladolid and Sam Zien (Sam the Cooking Guy).

Guests will receive onsite food samples from several restaurants, including Grant Grill, Davanti Enoteca, Barrio Star and Bertrand at Mister A’s. Tickets are $125. They can be purchased by calling 858-272-5777 or visiting online at ccssd.org.

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Gina Freize of East Village’s Venissimo Cheese says her wish has come true for landing a retail space in the redeveloped Old Police Headquarters, which after a few delays will open to the public on Nov. 18.

“I’ve been eyeballing the project for a couple of years and wasted no time applying,” she adds.

Freize is among a small handful of food vendors that were granted leases by Terramar Retail Centers, which owns the historic property and renamed it The Headquarters at Seaport District. Other eateries will include the La Jolla-based Puesto and a few national chains such as Seasons 52 and The Cheesecake Factory. 789 W. Harbor Drive.

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If you’re clumsy at rolling sushi, help is on its way at RA Sushi Bar Restaurant, where seasoned chefs will lead a crash course in sushi making and sake pairing. Participants will also come away with some knowledge about where sushi began and how it has evolved. The costs are $40, which includes sushi and a sake flight or $35 for sushi only. Both packages include appetizers, a non-alcoholic drink and a complimentary lunch card for a return visit. Reservations are required. 474 Broadway, 619-321-0021.

Frank Sabatini Jr can be reached at fsabatini@san.rr.com.

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