By Frank Sabatini Jr.
North Park welcomed the grand opening of Louisiana Purchase on March 14 to the tune of Southern barbecue shrimp, savory alligator cheesecake and andouille-fried red beans and rice. The menu is replete with modern interpretations of classic New Orleans fare executed by Louisiana transplant Quinnton “Q” Austin, whose cooking carries big, bold flavors and seasonal ingredients.
Anchored on the ground floor of The Louisiana building, the restaurant features a stylish blend of indoor and outdoor spaces using wood, marble, velvet and live greenery. Classic Southern cocktails with creative twists are also in the offing.
The restaurant is the latest project by San Diego-based Grind & Prosper Hospitality, which also operates Miss B’s Coconut Club in Mission Beach, Whiphand American Brasserie in East Village, and Park 101 in Carlsbad. It is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Wednesday through Sunday. Weekend brunch will launch in early April. 2305 University Ave., 619-228-9990, louisianapurchasesd.com.
Get them while they last. In honor of Trust Restaurant’s third anniversary, pastry chef Jeremy Harville is resurrecting a small hit parade of favored desserts since Trust first launched.
Available for a limited time only, the sweet dishes include carrot cake accented with nuts, carrot-ginger puree and a unique cream cheese ice cream. There’s also profiteroles with banana crème and caramel, plus an artistically designed peanut butter cheesecake with Cap’n Crunch ice cream and berry meringue. 3752 Park Blvd., 619-795-6901, trustrestaurantsd.com.
The Wine Lover kicks off its first sit-down tasting of the season with “A Walk Through France,” from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 30. The event will feature pours of specially selected wines from multiple French regions, accompanied by French cheeses. Kyle Knox of JJ Knox Wines will be on hand to discuss the wines. The cost is $45, or $40 for wine club members.
The annual series was started by Wine Lover owner Serge Chable seven years ago. It continues through late October, usually on the last Saturday of each month. 3968 Fifth Ave., 619-294-9200, thewineloversd.com.
Handmade corn and flour tortillas give rise to mulitas, tacos, burritos and other casual fare common to Mexicali at the new Mexicali Street Tacos in North Park. With less than 10 stools set along counter seating, the small eatery greets with an organic feel featuring reclaimed wood and wall planters. Protein choices range from soy chorizo and carne asada to shrimp, al pastor and chicken. 3383 El Cajon Blvd., 619-280-5452.
Saturday brunch at Madison in University Heights will be accompanied by a side of live jazz every week through March 30, as students from the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts fill the space with their musical talents. Madison will donate 10 percent of proceeds from the jazz brunches to the school’s jazz department as the students raise funds to travel to New York City for the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition at Lincoln Center. The brunch performances run from 10 a.m. to noon. 4622 Park Blvd., 619-269-6566, madisononpark.com.
As part of a $260 million expansion, Sycuan Casino Resort is gearing up to open two culinary components on the property in late March: Bull and Bourbon, a traditional fine-dining steakhouse, and Elicit Bar & Lounge, where beer, wine and artisan cocktails will complement an array of bar fare such as fresh oysters, sushi, and kobe beef sliders. In addition, a pool area with cabanas is being implemented. It will offer a poolside menu and full bar.
The renovations are the result of a partnership with Las Vegas-based Clique Hospitality, which has helped develop restaurant and nightclub experiences for San Diego’s Pendry Hotel, MGM Resorts International, Cosmopolitan Las Vegas and other properties. 5469 Casino Way, El Cajon, 619-445-6002, sycuan.com.
A revered dining destination in North Park has unexpectedly closed.
Urban Solace at 3823 30th St. served its last meals on March 13 after chef-owner Matt Gordon announced on Facebook that the 12-year-old restaurant and its Encinitas offshoot, Solace and the Moonlight Lounge, had run their courses. In a statement Gordon said, “It has been an uphill battle for quite some time now, and it’s just time to move on.” He continued by thanking his patrons and the community for their long-term support.
Known for a number of dishes customers came to love, such as cheddar-chive biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and “duckaroni,” Gordon is credited with bringing comfort food to the dining scene before it became trendy. He confirmed that he will continue catering from his Sorrento Valley headquarters. Menus and contact info can be found at urbansolacecatering.com.
The seventh annual Bankers Hill Art & Craft Beer Festival will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., March 22 throughout the two levels of The Abbey on Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest (2823 Fifth Ave.). More than a dozen local craft breweries will pour their brews amid pop-up galleries showcasing local artists as well as Bankers Hill restaurants doling out sweet and savory bites.
Among the beer makers taking part are Hillcrest Brewing Company, Burning Beard, 3 Punk Ales, Thorn Brewing Co., and more. They’ll be joined by Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe, Parc Bistro-Brasserie, Cucina Urbana, Wetstone Wine Bar and others.
The event serves as a social fundraiser organized by the Bankers Hill Business Group. Tickets are $30 in advance, and $35 at the door. Admission includes unlimited 2-ounce beer pours and food samples. For more information, visit bankershillbusinessgroup.com.
A larger, sleeker version of Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill in Mission Hills is up and running in Ocean Beach — and to shorter lines (for now) compared to its flagship kitchen. Known for its seafood cocktails, and large variety of grilled fish available in plates, sandwiches, salads or tacos — the menu is exactly the same, although the decor features warm woods and contemporary accents.
Other hot sellers — as discovered by Food Network’s Guy Fieri on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” —include oyster shooters and classic cioppino soup loaded with a variety of seafood. Perched across the street from the beach below Wonderland Ocean Pub, the new location also sells fresh fish from a chilled deli case. 5083 Santa Monica Ave., 619-255-8497, sdbluewater.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.