By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Since leaving his mark on Uptown’s culinary scene with the former Vagabond in South Park, as well as two existing locations of Cafe Madeleine in South Park and North Park, restaurateur Jerome Gombert has launched his next venture in Rosarito, Mexico.
His new Viaje Oyster Bar will hold its grand opening on Feb. 7. The 5,000-square-foot space offers ocean views and a menu rich in seafood. He’s sourcing the oysters from Baja’s coastal town of San Quintin, and said they are the same bivalves he used at Vagabond.
Helming the kitchen is Mexico City chef Marcello Hisaki, who has developed steak and chicken entrees in addition to offering at least seven types of fish. Also available are Mexican craft beers and wines from Baja and France. Boulevard Benito Juarez 25500, Quinta del Mar, 22710; 52-661-104-0718.
At least until spring arrives, Madison on Park in University Heights is offering “build your own hot toddy” for $12 per mug. A celebrated winter drink throughout Scotland and Ireland — and touted as a cure for cold-weather ailments — customers can create their heated cocktail by choosing a spirit, sweetener and citrus element.
Choices include bourbon, rum and rye whiskey, which can be paired to ingredients such as honey, smoked maple syrup and allspice liqueur, among others. Lemon, lime, grapefruit and pineapple are available to further enhance the toddies. 4622 Park Blvd., 619-269-6566, madisononpark.com.
The newly remodeled Doubletree Hotel Circle and its rebranded restaurant, Seaglass, has brought on Rachel Jacobs as executive chef. The Ocean Beach resident previously held culinary positions at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Anthem in North Park, and the Hard Rock Cafe in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Seaglass revamped a majority of the menu, with many dishes steering clear of gluten. In addition, about 20 percent of the options are vegetarian or vegan.
One of her standout items includes a burger fashioned in the spirit of a California burrito. It’s topped with avocado, pico de gallo and French fries.
The hotel also hired pastry chef Mirsonia Jimenez from Puerto Rico. Her creations include Puerto Rican panna cotta known as coconut tembleque, and cheesecake swans made with cream cheese and caramel flan. 1515 Hotel Circle South, 619-881-6900, doubletreehotelcircle.com.
Panda Express in Mission Valley’s Park Village Center has closed and will make way for an eighth San Diego location of Breakfast Republic at 1570 Camino de la Reina. Owned by the locally-based Rise & Shine Restaurant Group, the transformation is due for completion in May.
In the meantime, the company is introducing walk-up windows to its Breakfast Republic properties in Pacific Beach (4465 Mission Blvd.) and the East Village (707 G St.). Named Eggies, they will operate from shipping containers and sell coffee drinks, English muffin sandwiches, and noshes such as firttatas and French toast served in small Mason jars. Both are slated to open in mid- to late spring. breakfastrepublic.com.
Businesses and event organizers throughout San Diego that have employed Waters Fine Foods & Catering for their special events now have access to many of the recipes that owner Mary Kay Waters has used over the 30 years she’s been in business.
Her new 240-page hardcover cookbook, “Waters Fine Foods — Stories and Recipes from our Kitchen,” is hot off the press and available for $28 at various outlets: Specialty Produce (1929 Hancock St.), Warwick’s (7912 Girard Ave.), and Waters Fine Catering Cafe (1125 W. Morena Blvd.)
Replete with color photography, the book features chapters on breakfast, salads, soups, sandwiches, entrees, desserts and more. It is also available on the website at waterscatering.com.
Australian wagyu beef is stealing the show at the new Shawarma Guys food truck in South Park. Launched on Jan. 28 by Michigan transplant Bryan Zeto, the mobile kitchen specializes in Mediterranean fare and operates Monday through Saturday in The Bottle House parking lot.
The lauded melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef is used in sandwiches, bowls, wraps and customized plates. Other menu items include hummus, Greek salads and a signature dish called lemon cream chop French fries, which are fries topped with panko-breaded chicken and lemon-garlic sauce. 3012 Grape St., 619-340-1234.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.