Frank Sabatini Jr. | Downtown News
San Diego author Maria Desiderata Montana spares us the hassle of begging local restaurants for the recipes of their signature dishes, the ones that we love of course. In her latest book, San Diego Chef’s Table (Globe Pequot Press), she snags the precise specs for making whole sea bass from Christian Graves of Jsix; quiche Basquaise by Katie Grebow of Café Chloe; pumpkin waffles from Terryl Gavre of Café 222; and Mexican chocolate cake from Dustin Beckner at Quality Social. Several other Downtown restaurants are featured, along with dozens more from kitchens across San Diego County. The 207-page book – due to release on Aug. 6 – is loaded with chef-restaurant profiles and luscious photography by John Dole. The cost is $24.95.
What do you get when you cross a Harley Davidson motorcycle with a chandelier made of Jack Daniels bottles and a former Playboy playmate? The answer is Lucky Bastard Saloon, the Gaslamp District’s newest high-profile establishment launched by model-turned-restaurateur Nicole Dahm Kelly. Amid naughty-named cocktails and casual grub that includes battered cheese curds and burgers with peanut butter are 38 big-screen televisions, billiards and shuffleboards. 840 Fifth Ave., 619-233-0023.
An exotic culinary journey through Japan awaits at Gaijin Noodle + Sake House, where Chefs Antonio Friscia and Fern Tran have introduced a $45 “omakase” menu, which in Japanese means, “I’ll leave it to you.” For guests who surrender their palates to the kitchen, the chefs will oblige with six or seven courses of fresh and creative dishes that have included various sashimi, oxtail noodles made with humanely raised beef and vegetable or meat yakitori from the white charcoal grill. 627 Fourth Ave., 619-238-0567.
Guests enter through a tunneled staircase reminiscent of a Tokyo subway at the new Bang Bang, which showcases a full slate of Asian cuisine and what the promoters are calling “the largest disco ball on the West Coast.” The 7,000-square-foot space, which formerly housed Airr Supper Club, was launched by Mauricio Couturier of El Camino in Little Italy and Johnny Shockey of Voyeur. Video projections and oversized Japanese lanterns set the stage inside for sushi, “bang mi” sandwiches and flaming punch bowls. 526 Market St., 619-677-2264.
Farm-fresh salads, hormone-free meats and line-caught fish rule the day at Tender Greens, which recently opened its third San Diego location in the former Greyhound Bus station on Broadway. Chef Bradley Austin, a deep-sea fisher and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, heads a menu that includes “backyard” marinated steak, herb-brushed albacore and tons of big, leafy salads. In addition, a concept version of the environmentally friendly restaurant is slated to open in late August in the Commuter Terminal at San Diego International Airport. 110 W. Broadway, 619-795-2353.
The Dallas-based Fogo de Chao makes its San Diego debut on Aug. 22 in the mondo brick structure that previously housed Border’s. The Brazilian steakhouse features gaucho chefs slicing and serving 14 different cuts of meats tableside. Customers will be supplied with the customary discs revealing a red side to stop the flow of meat, and the green side to bring more on. Options include top and bottom sirloin, lamb, rib eye, pork loin, linguica and more. 668 Sixth Ave., 619-338-0500.
Frank Sabatini has been a food critic for over 20 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.