T+L Reports: Bright Young Food Scene
The renaissance of San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter is shining a whole new light on the once staid downtown area. The stylish ristorante Buon Appetito (1609 India St.; 619/238-9880; dinner for two $65) is known for its grilled quail over lentils. · Rustic European dishes such as broiled Bahia Falsa oysters and rabbit ravioli are among the offerings at Café Cerise (1125 Sixth Ave.; 619/ 595-0153; dinner for two $80), located in what is rumored to have been a brothel. · Bachelor star Andrew Firestone has created a buzz with his sexy-chic Confidential (901 Fourth Ave.; 619/696-8888; dinner for two $60), serving inventive tapas such as Indian lamb sliders and Coca-Cola–glazed ribs. · Steak frites and sole marinière are the prime plats at Café Chloe (721 Ninth Ave.; 619/232-3242; dinner for two $40). · An Art Deco fish house with a rollicking oyster bar, the Oceanaire Seafood Room (400 J St.; 619/858-2277; dinner for two $100) is straight out of a Dick Tracy story. · Jsix (616 J St.; 619/531-8744; dinner for two $70) serves up a farm-fresh menu with an ethnic flourish. Try the Moroccan lamb skewers in green-olive sauce or the seafood cocktail spiced with chilies and lime. · Diners fill communal tables for sweet-and-spicy grilled lobster and Krispy Kreme bread pudding at Soleil@K (660 K St.; 619/ 446-6088; dinner for two $65), just a pop fly from Petco Park.—IRENE LECHOWITZKY
Known for its farm-to-table California cuisine, this full-service restaurant is housed inside the San Diego
Marriott Gaslamp Quarter hotel. The dining room is open and airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows, high-backed wicker chairs, white tablecloths, and pale hardwood floors. The restaurant also has an exhibition kitchen, as well as glass doors that open onto an outdoor patio. The menu changes seasonally, with possible entrées including roasted free-range chicken with smoked bacon—mustard glaze, and prime hanger steak with truffle oil and wild mushroom risotto. The wine list is almost exclusively local, with more than two dozen options available by the glass.
Jsix is a restaurant and bar inside the East Village’s contemporary Hotel Solamar. Situated near Petco Park, the convention center, and the Gaslamp District, Jsix is a bustling gathering place full of urban touches like stone walls, metal grillwork, and an illuminated bar. Chef Christian Graves focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients foraged from San Diego farms and Hotel Solamar’s rooftop garden. The chef is adamant about using only made-from-scratch breads and condiments, grass-fed meats, and sustainably-sourced seafood for such dishes as housemade mustard, ginger-mint glazed short ribs and roasted Maine diver scallops in a Meyer lemon butter sauce.
Oceanaire Seafood Room, San Diego
Part of the Landry’s restaurant chain, Oceanaire Seafood Room is one of the city’s classic seafood houses. The restaurant is known for fresh and sustainable foods from the sea in both raw and traditional Euro-American cooking methods. The menu is printed daily, especially for the day’s fresh-from-the-sea oyster selections. Starters include shrimp cocktail and clam chowder, while the drunken Mexican swordfish is a specialty served with port-braised cherries and smoked almonds in a port reduction sauce. Side dishes such as potato gratin and green bean amandine come in huge portions for sharing.
Buon Appetito brings food, wine, and art together in dowtown’s Little Italy district. Along with a wine bar and market next door, Buon Appetito has an upscale Euro look outside with its wheat-colored walls, navy awnings, and wrought ironwork. More like a crowded café inside, the restaurant’s bright space is also an art gallery with monthly-changing exhibits. Antipasti is available like Italian-made charcuterie and cheeses, and pastas are house-made daily, including the fusilli pasta topped with duck ragu. Entrée items are classic seafood, game, chicken, and beef preparations such as veal piccata.