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Ironside Fish & Oyster Opens Today

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IronsideSurprisingly absent in California’s southern-most city, is a rich oyster culture—one that is deeply engrained in coastal communities such as the Puget Sound of Washington State, or the Chesapeake Bay of Virginia and Maryland. Executive Chef Jason McLeod’s goal at Ironside Fish & Oyster is to reintroduce this culture with an approachable raw-bar concept in San Diego—a known seaport city, born from the local fishing industry that once existed as the tuna capital of the US.

THE CHEF — Oyster liquor runs rampant through Jason McLeod’s veins. Born and raised along the seafood-abundant coastlines of British Colombia, a mere 90 minutes south of Fanny Bay, McLeod was spoiled at a young age with plenty of local catch, but his favorite, undoubtedly, was the oyster – always unadorned, the most authentic taste of the sea. With over 25 years of culinary experience under his toque, Jason has traveled the world to train with several of the most prestigious chefs in the industry, including culinary icons Raymond Blanc and Marco Pierre White. While Ironside will be Chef McLeod’s first venture as an owner, it will certainly not be his first foray into developing a concept focused largely on seafood. In 2009 as the opening executive chef of RIA in Chicago’s 5-Star Elysian Hotel, McLeod led a luxurious seafood-driven restaurant from being relatively unknown, to receiving two Michelin stars during its first year of operation—an honor that only two other restaurants in Chicago (Charlie Trotter’s and Avenues) were awarded that year.

KITCHEN + CUISINE — Creating thought-provoking concepts with progressive design, CH Projects spared absolutely no expense to transform the 4,500 square foot, 1920s-era warehouse. At the epicenter of Ironside’s $1.8 million build out, an impressive raw bar is one of three open-air culinary hubs, offering guests a daily changing menu of bivalves, oyster flights, crudos, crab claws, seafood platters, house made mignonettes and more.

Fostering a shared space of communal interaction and education, an in-house bakery and European-style open kitchen each features their own unique chef’s table, and a five-foot live lobster tank houses crustaceans from the coasts of Baja, Maine and beyond. Alongside the raw bar and bakery, McLeod’s culinary program features an extensive menu of seafood-heavy specialties feature Beer Braised Mussels with Andouille sausage, Fried Oyster Po Boy, Shrimp Bahn Mi, a Lobster Roll – in addition to more traditional classics like “Daily Catch” served a la plancha or grilled, Seafood Chowder, Fish & Chips and more.

IN-HOUSE ARTISANAL BREAD PROGRAM — Ironside’s impressive in-house bakery is led by Pastry Chef Donna Antaloczy. Antaloczy has gathered invaluable “Old World” knowledge about the art of baking at acclaimed kitchens throughout the country including Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery, Daniel Humm’s Eleven Madison Park, Christophe Eme’s former Ortolan Restaurant, Gordon Ramsay’s The London NYC, and David Kinch’s Manresa – where she trained under famed head baker Avery Ruzicka and pastry chef Stephanie Prida who’ve propelled the  “Manresa Bread Project” to celebrity status. Antaloczy’s bread program weaves its distinctive, high-quality ingredients into all aspects of Ironside’s menu, offering up items ranging from fresh hearth loaves, porridge breads, brioche and lobster rolls.

FORTIFIED ON ALL FRONTS — CH Projects is respected for turning out some of the best and most ambitious bar programs in the county (“Cocktail Bar of the Year,” Imbibe Magazine’s Imbibe 75; “The Best Bars in America,” Esquire Magazine; Top 50 Bars in the Country,” Food & Wine; “Beer Bar of the Year,” Nightclub & Bar Awards). Ironside’s cocktail menu, helmed by Bar Manager Leigh Lecap, pays tribute to a resurgence of sherrys, ports and Madeiras, with more than 90 different fortified wines proudly gracing Ironside’s 14-foot overarching, steel bar trellis. A viscous beverage traditionally enjoyed as a digestif, Lecap translates the natural affinity between fortified wines and spirits into a selection of “Fortified” cobbler cocktails. This re-imagined take on the beloved and uniquely American sherry cobbler is a resurgent “lost art” among bartenders, cocktail enthusiasts and general imbibers.

COCKTAILS ON THE HALF SHELL — Alongside a handful of “Fortified” creations, Ironside’s bar menu showcases over 50 unique cocktails divided into categories such as “Uplifting”, “Stimulating”, “Hold Fast”, “Seaworthy” and “Cocktails On The Halfshell” – a single raw oyster served alongside a lively concoction of restorative qualities.  The menu is designed to give imbibers a variety of options to compliment each aspect of their meal from start to finish. Pouring from the bar’s 26 taps are 16 beers, eight wines, one draft cocktail and ice-cold coffee on draft in partnership with Coffee & Tea Collective.

THE HAPPIEST OF HOURS & LATE NIGHT EATS — Happy Hour: Nothing beats a fresh platter of oysters over ice, unless those oysters happen to come at the low price of a dollar apiece! Oyster happy hour is sure to become one of Ironside’s favorite pastimes, offering a selection of $1 oysters from the raw bar Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Late Night Eats: While Ironside’s last seating is at 10 p.m., the raw bar will stay open alongside the cocktail bar until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, offerings the freshest of bivalves, oyster flights, crudos, crab claws and more.

DESIGN — Underscoring the collaborative spirit that Ironside aims to restore, CH Projects once again commissioned brick-and-mortar guru Paul Basile of Basile Studio (Craft & Commerce, UnderBelly, Polite Provisions and Soda & Swine) to visually convey the collective’s essential spirit and philosophy. From custom, plasma cut barstools and copper tabletops, to the 14-foot-tall overarching steel bar trellis, Ironside’s deliberately intricate and intellectually stimulating décor includes experimental design elements that Basile himself customized and fabricated in his East Village warehouse. Five massive floor-to-ceiling steel flip doors at the front of the building can be lifted to create an open concept restaurant that faces the bustling avenue, and a 15-foot marble countertop near the open-aire kitchen transforms into a 14 seat communal table with outwardly swinging bar seats that discreetly hover below the countertop. For Paul Basile, it’s all in the details – and with Ironside’s design, functionality is kept top of mind, translating into dollars and cents.

HOURS OF OPERATION:
Open 7 days a week

Lunch
Monday through Friday | 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday + Sunday | 10 a.m. to 3p.m.

Dinner
Daily | 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cocktail Bar + Raw Bar
All Day to Midnight, Sunday through Thursday
All Day to 2 a.m., Friday + Saturday

Oyster Happy Hour | Monday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m., $1 oysters

AMC’s ‘Mad Men’: Flashback Frenzy Continues this week with True North Tavern

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The popular AMC television show “Mad Men,” having just started its final season, has us all enjoying a sort-of flashback frenzy. From high fashion to the Old-Fashioned, this era could be called more mod than mad. Pull on a pencil skirt or a fancy fedora and head to one of these San Diego joints for their take on the classic cocktail concoctions.

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Saddle up and mosey on over to North Park’s True North Tavern for the Strawberry Bourbon Mule.  This southern cousin to the “Moscow Mule” takes advantage of peak strawberry season, combining Benchmark Bourbon, strawberry puree, lemon juice and topping it off with the essential dose of ginger beer. Traditionalists should try True North’s Ginger Manhattan, made with Templeton Rye, Antica Formula Vermouth, ginger syrup and a dash of cherry bitters.

True North Tavern on Urbanspoon

AMC’s ‘Mad Men’: Flashback Frenzy

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The popular AMC television show “Mad Men,” having just started its final season, has us all enjoying a sort-of flashback frenzy. From high fashion to the Old-Fashioned, this era could be called more mod than mad. Pull on a pencil skirt or a fancy fedora and head to one of these San Diego joints for their take on the classic cocktail concoctions.

(Courtesy photo)(Courtesy photo)

The Duck Dive: There Will Be Blood (well, blood oranges that is) at Pacific Beach’s The Duck Dive this summer. Channeling Don Draper’s favorite, the “Old-Fashioned,” this Mad Men-esque cocktail combines Old Forrester Bourbon, fresh blood orange, bitters, maraschino cherry, brown sugar and ginger ale. At 142 years young, Old Forrester is America’s oldest brand of bourbon. During Prohibition, it was one of only 10 brands sold under the guise that it was “for medicinal use only.”

Loews Coronado Bay Resort: Lobby and Restaurant Renovation

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The hotel has completed a complete redesign of its lobby, Bay Terrace, Cays Lounge, Market Café and Market-to-Go, wrapping up a nine-month-long transformation on the heels of additional renovations to the meeting space, corridors and guestroom bathrooms totaling an investment of $12 million over the last three years.

Taking full advantage of the resort’s waterfront location, the new design artfully combines San Diego’s sun and surf with the casual elegance of an oceanfront home.

“Guests who have not stayed with us in recent years will be in awe of the new design and décor,” said Brian Johnson, the hotel’s general manager. “From the moment you walk in, it’s a fresh look for Loews Coronado Bay in 2013: from improved views of the bay from the vibrant new floating bar to game-day screenings of your favorite sports on the new 9-screen media wall in Cay’s Lounge,” he said. “We are making continual and lasting improvements to ensure the hotel remains relevant to modern travelers.”

About the Design

BAMO, a luxury design firm whose portfolio includes some of the world’s finest hotels, describes the style as “lively and fresh” and a place guests will “feel at ease.”

San Diego’s sparkling bay is central to the theme and one of the first things guests will see when entering the new lobby. A two-story chandelier of suspended glass adds center-stage drama to the resort’s grand staircase and projects the time on a new signature clock on the lobby floor, encouraging leisure guests to lose track of time while they savor the seaside resort.

In Cay’s Lounge, a media wall with nine LCD flat-screen televisions broadcasts sporting events, while communal-style bar tables promote casual networking. Outside on the Bay Terrace, oversized teak sofas invite conversation around warm fire pits in the evening hours. The new Cay’s Lounge menu highlights craft cocktails including the Jalapeno Berry Margarita and the Triple Gin Mule, as well as some of San Diego and Coronado’s most cherished local brews on tap.

The resort’s crescent-shaped Market Café boasts panoramic views of the hotel’s 81-slip marina. Cheerful, whimsical design brings fresh colors that reflect the mood and atmosphere of the sunny seaside destination. The restaurant menus were all handcrafted by Executive Chef Mark Ching, who specializes in classic comfort foods, modernized. Day or night, there’s something for everyone to feel right at home. Favorites range from light, local dishes including the Ono Taco and Spicy Ahi Tartare to modern twists on classic dishes like Pot Roast “Deconstructed” and Buttermilk Chicken.

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The adjacent Market To Go offers a casual atmosphere for all-day dining. A communal table invites early-birds to plug-in with a cup of coffee in the morning while the cozy bar tucked in the back encourages travelers to unwind with a glass of wine in the evening. Grab-and-go counters offer fresh baked goods throughout the day, as well as a selection of gourmet sandwiches, salads, sweets and snacks.

About Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Situated on a private 15-acre peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Coronado Bay, Loews Coronado Bay Resort is located minutes from downtown Coronado, a charming resort village, and a short drive to San Diego’s world-famous attractions. Resort features include direct access to the Silver Strand State Beach, three tennis courts, a private 81-slip marina, three acclaimed restaurants, 440 sea-inspired guest rooms and suites, and panoramic views of the San Diego-Coronado Bay.

Follow Loews on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loewscoronadobay.

Twitter: www.twitter.com/loews_hotels

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine celebrates annual oysterfest

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This month-long devotion features a curated menu of bivalves from the bays of British Columbia to the shoals of Montauk. Slurp down a dozen of the freshest oysters with one of Blue Point’s featured San Diego craft beers or special selections of world class champagnes by the glass.  Blue Point will be featuring six different varieties daily and a menu of enticing preparations from their award-winning culinary team throughout the month of April.

ON THE HALF SHELL | Freshly shucked with 3 mignottes

ROCKEFELLER | Spinach, shallots, herbs & parmesan, pernod

SPICY THAI STYLE | Coconut broth with curry ginger spice

ASIAN STYLE | Tempura batter, deep fried, citrus soy dipping sauce

OSCAR | Bechamel, lump crab meat, topped with panko bread crumbs

SMOKED | Applewood smoked, lemon aioli

SAMPLER PLATTER | Try two each of any three

ABOUT BLUE POINT COASTAL CUISINE: Blue Point Coastal Cuisine offers pristine seafood, steaks and chops in an elegant upscale environment. The venue includes an upscale dining room, oyster bar and outdoor patio and is best known for spotlighting the treasures of the Pacific, utilizing ingredients that are quintessential to California’s edible landscape. The restaurant has garnered a number of awards including Best Downtown Restaurant from San Diego Home & Garden Magazine, and Best Seafood Restaurant, Best Continental Cuisine, Best Customer Service, Favorite Wine List and Favorite Place to Dine from the Gaslamp Association. Dinner is served Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. The restaurant offers group dining and space is available for private luncheons. For more information, please visit www.bluepointsd.com, or call (619) 233-6623. Blue Point Coastal Cuisine is located at 565 Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter.

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Veggie Grill hits UTC with healthy food options

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The veggie grill in University City offers several healthy fast food options. Veggiegrill’s menu features a satisfying and energizing variety of hot sandwiches and burgers, entrée salads, homestyle plates, daily soups and housemade desserts made from hearty “veggie-proteins” and wholesome ingredients. With 16 locations in California, Oregon and Washington, Veggie Grill renders the impossible possible: 100-percent plant-based food that is convenient, affordable and craveable.
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This hip new spot in university city is located inside of utc mall.

All Hail Kale Salad
All Hail Kale Salad

After opening 19 outlets up and down the West Coast, the owners of the Veggie Grill chain finally decided the time was right to open its first location in San Diego County, opting for the Westfield UTC mall.

The vegetarian-style eatery, whose menu is entirely free of animal fat, dairy and eggs, falls within the fast casual segment, which, while still a relatively small niche, has far outpaced all other categories in restaurant visits growth.

Papa’s Portobello
Papa’s Portobello

Santa Monica-based Veggie Gill had been eying the San Diego County market for some time but was careful about choosing the right location to fit its demographic, which includes highly educated women, said CEO Greg Dollarhyde.

“It’s a little bit bohemian mix and money and brains. people who have education and income,” said Dollaryhyde. “Our most important target is the educated woman who wants herself, family, husband or boyfriend to eat better. Twenty-five percent of our guests have graduate degrees, and only 30 percent are vegetarian eaters. We’re not trying to go after just the vegetarian or vegan eater.”

Bean Me Up’ Chili
Bean Me Up’ Chili

The menu includes a variety of hot sandwiches, wraps, burgers, entrée salads and soups and even has familiar comfort food favorites like fried chicken and Buffalo wings, but made with ingredients like soy, wheat gluten and beet and pea fiber. Dollarhyde explained.

“People have this image of vegetarian food as bland and mushy, but we sell fried chicken sandwiches and carne asada and carrot cake but they’re all plant-based,” said Dollarhyde, who noted that many of his senior team members are vegetarians.

Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’
Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’

Located near Macy’s in the Westfield mall, the 2,300-square-foot Veggie Grill has its own patio. Each new restaurant, built from the ground up, typically costs between $800,000 and $1 million to develop, Dollarhyde said.

Savory Kale Caesar Salad
Savory Kale Caesar Salad

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

Future San Diego County locations are planned, including Carlsbad, which is expected to open in the next six months. Additional California expansion is also slated for Westlake Village, Pasadena, Corte Madera, and Mountain View. Veggie Grill currently has 19 other locations, mostly in Southern California, as well as in Portland and Seattle.

An aspiring pizza empire hits Hillcrest

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Also a common follow-up endeavor for losers on Project Runway, Project Pie’s the passion project of a Ninja Turtle-level pizzaphile so displeased by the category’s general offerings that he pioneered his own fast-casual pizza concept that’s popping up in SD with the second location of a planned empire.

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Aside from this massive, street-facing community bar, the counter-ordering joint’s stocked with a few four-tops and has a minimalist design meant to reflect the style of the neighborhood.

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Inspirational/ famous/ funny quotes cover everything from the windows… to the walls! Actually, just the walls. Two of them, specifically.

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Baked to perfection in roughly 2mins, each pie starts with their super-secret custom pizza dough made extra-thin via a modified tortilla press, then gets doused with their secret-recipe, housemade red sauce, and then piled with any of nine ingredient combos like this #2, sporting mozz, pepperoni, mild Italian sausage, crumbled meatballs, and garlic.

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If their nine options make you say “nein”, go all custom with 20+ toppings for personalized pies like this sauce-less mix of artichoke hearts, sliced tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella, and dollops of pesto.

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If you only eat salads that start with a less-healthy word, check out this Pizza Salad with grilled chicken, mixed greens, Gorgonzola, tomatoes, and olive oil on fresh-baked dough.

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Because you should always follow your pie with… more pie, they’ll also cook up sweetness like this Nutella & banana number finished off with powdered sugar, helping you transition into Project Diabetes.

1. Project Pie

The second location of this artisan pizza slinger’s in Hillcrest, and serves up pies like a prosciutto, caramelized onions, mozz, and parm number. You can also build your own ‘za.

Gourmet sausage sandwiches in Hillcrest

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Salt and Cleaver
Salt and Cleaver

Not just a place for big fans of sodium/ Jerry Mathers (though they’re welcome, too), Salt and Cleaver is offering locally sourced and house-made gourmet sausages that can be tailored to anyone’s taste, with the exception of those on the “protected” menu, which are only served the way exec chef Carlos SanMartano designed them, like this Duck. Duck. Pig: duck and bacon sausage, duck confit, Baconnaise & orange marmalade.

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The space is a modern rustic ménage à trois of wood (!), metal, and brick, with barnwood tables and exposed beams surrounding the U-shaped bar that’s pouring a rotating lineup of 20 draft brews.

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Another chef’s choice is the smoked bratwurst topped with a carefully crafted combo of malted sauerkraut (sorry, milk balls), roasted peppers, and smoked brown ale mustard.

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If you like to do things your way but not necessarily at Burger King, take your pick from nearly 20 sausages (Chicken Florentine, Lamb Merguez), then add fixings and housemade sauces like spicy horseradish mustard or their S&C sauce (“like ketchup, but better”). Order it with one of their out-of-the-bun sides like tzatziki-sided “cucumber fries”, and don’t forget to check the chalk board for the chef’s off-menu specials.

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Every sausage comes plated on an angled metal tray that was custom-designed and handmade just for them, while chain-link fencing, industrial hooks hanging from the ceiling, and an illuminated wrought iron wall on the patio add to the badassery… On second thought, Leave It to Beaver fans may want to head elsewhere.

1. Salt and Cleaver

A new sausage spot slinging weiners served any way you like them, or (for those on the “protected” menu), exactly the way the chef intended them. Add to that some badass features like chain-link fences and wrought iron everywhere, and you’ve got yourself a sausage that’s going to be hard to miss.

BITE Hillcrest

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Bite Hillcrest
Bite Hillcrest

In case you thought Hillcrest was just for checking out outlandishly sassy Halloween costumes, well, you’re right, but they’ve now also got walking food tours launching this weekend, where $45 gets you choice tastes from Brazen BBQ, Snooze, Local Habit, Emirehouse, Lotus Cafe, Kona Coffee, and Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe — look, he had to do something after losing to Reagan, okay?!?

Classy Carlsbad joint gets a facelift

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With a very clear vision of their direction, and pretty much everything else if their name’s to be believed, the crew at Twenty/20 have completed a massive overhaul, redoing the interior/menu and expanding their ocean-view veranda to make guests feel like they’re in San Sebastian without completely relying on their relative blindness.

Aside from Catalonia, Spaniards are like, really good at sharing, so they’ll be rocking traditional tapas (pictured up top) like bacon-wrapped dates with Cabrales Blue and a piquillo pepper tomato sauce, Shrimp a la Plancha with chili/lemon, and charred octopus.

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Because nothing screams Northern Spain like pizza, they’ll be making unleavened pies like this guy with Parmesan, cilantro, and spicy bacon.

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The new cornerstone of the liquids program is a trio of housemade sangrias all using Torres Brandy, or — if sangria’s not your preferred avenue to near-blindness — opt instead for the Spanish Marg with jalapeno-infused agave nectar and a touch of Torres orange liqueur.

1. Twenty/20 Grill & Wine Bar

Tucked away in the Sheraton Carlsbad, Twenty/20 features delicious Spanish-inspired cuisine alongside some of the best views of the coast.

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