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FOODfare: Bo Beau Kitchen + Bar


Bo Beau Kitchen + Bar's interior.
Courtesy Photo

Born and raised in France by an Italian mother and a Spanish father, Philippe Beltran is acutely in tune with the aesthetics of the Mediterranean as well as the solid heartbeat thumping away beneath its surface. He has successfully delivered tastes of his heritage via the design of popular local eateries including Bleu Bohème in Kensington and South Park’s Vagabond, both of which have been praised for their interior design and attention to detail and regional authenticity. Last year, when David Cohn, the head of San Diego’s Cohn Restaurant Group had a brainstorm to build a haven for all things Mediterranean as the latest addition to his eatery empire, he wasted no time getting in touch with the one craftsman he knew he could count on to turn his vision into a reality. The result of this dynamic duo’s collaboration is Bo Beau Kitchen + Bar.

Built in the Ocean Beach space formerly occupied by the Thee Bungalow, Bo Beau pays homage to that venerable eatery courtesy of French menu mainstays while simultaneously bidding adieu to its somewhat stuffy “special occasion” vibe. What was once a dimly lit bastion for old World French pretention (something that, frankly, always seemed a bit out of place in a space bordered by the parking lot of an athletic field) is now a Bohemian chic refuge offering several distinctly different dining experiences, from al fresca dining on a patio equipped with San Diego’s only outdoor pizza oven, to bites at the bar accompanied by a view of a bustling open kitchen, or traditional dinner service in the formal dining room, or a candlelit nook nestled in the restaurant’s northwest corner.

No matter where patrons choose to dine, the entire menu is available to them. It’s a bill of fare that includes French classics such as house-made pâtés and other forms of charcuterie, plus classics like butter-poached escargots, Croque Madame, Chicken Fricassé and Boeuf Bourguignon. Past that, the remainder of the menu, developed by chef Katherine Humphus (whose résumé includes time logged at The French Laundry in Napa Valley and NYC’s WD-50), mostly leans on French technique in the preparation of ingredients common to Spain and Italy. Such ingredients make sense for San Diego, which possesses a climate that’s perfect for fostering the development of fruits, vegetables and herbs found in countries situated along the Mediterranean Sea. Among Humphus’ offerings are several regionally inspired versions of mussels and fries (moules and frites), house-made pastas (including a seemingly mandatory mac ‘n’ cheese that’s made unique courtesy of leek “fondue”) and salmon with an arugula-pesto gremolata. And, of course, an assortment of flatbreads from the pizza oven, such as a five cheese variety with chorizo and Serrano ham and roasted beets with brie and curry onion marmalade.

Bo Beau’s cuisine, with its firm Old World footing and pronouncedly modern American approach, match the mix of contemporary furniture and antiques (procured during Beltran’s travels) that define its interior aesthetic. From the moment one enters, it’s clear that a great deal of time and attention went into creating a warming environment that’s as well-suited for an evening of wine on the patio with friends or a romantic evening out with that special someone. And with a menu where all of the offerings chime in at under $20, either experience is sure to be an affordable one.

4996 West Point Loma Blvd, Ocean Beach, 619.224.2884

Get Your Fill

In craft beer circles, the word “growler” is well known as the term for large glass containers used for transporting beer from the taps at your favorite brewery or bar so that it can be enjoyed at home, at a party or just about anywhere else where beer would be a welcomed addition (I’m actually having trouble coming up with the opposite setting just now). Growlers are most often procured at craft breweries and brewpubs, but one restaurant, URBN Coal Fired Pizza, is introducing them as part of their growler happy hour. And they’re doing it in a way that may incite patrons to partake with enough frequency that they amass enough glassware to start their own very well fed jug band. From 4 to 6 p.m., customers who purchase a growler fill of any of the quality selection of craft beers on draft will get a free small with up to three toppings. The obtainment of fresh, flavorful beer is reason enough to dig this promotion, but when you consider that most growler fills at URBN ring in at $16 and the cost for one of the coal-fired pies in question is $15 to $20, simple economics dictates one drink up. That goes for oenophiles as well. URBN will offer the same complimentary pizza deal to drinkers … I mean, diners… who order a bottle of wine. After all, URBN prides itself on being an equal opportunity booze outlet.

3805 University Ave., North Park, 619.255.7300

A Real Powder Keg

So, now that I’ve already ruined 2011 for anybody who’s New Year’s resolution was to stop drinking (or stop eating pizza), here’s some news on the latest in Pizza Port Carlsbad’s ever-increasing series of beer festivals. Dubbed, the Barrel Blast, this event will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 15, and will feature roughly 30 rare ales and lagers hand-selected by head brewer Jeff Bagby from the U.S. Small Brewing Company of the Year’s mammoth collection of archived kegs. The list is top secret, but Bagby did leak the names of a few of the brewing companies whose wares will be on-tap. It’s an illustrious assemblage that includes fellow California stars like Russian River Brewing Co., Bear Republic, Sierra Nevada and San Diego’s cadre of usual suspects (The Lost Abbey, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Stone, etc.) and out-of-staters like Avery, Allagash, Flying Dog, Three Floyds and Belgium’s famed Cantillon. Tickets are $30 and are available at pizzaport.com or ticketderby.com (just search “Barrel Blast”). If for some ungodly reason you are unable to make it, rest securely (and sadly soberly) in the knowledge that there are four other opportunities throughout the year to take in a day of tasting. 2011’s slate of events includes Brewbies, a benefit festival on February 12 with 30 to 40 beers where proceeds go to the Keep A Breast Foundation as well as the Real Ale Festival on April 15 and 16, Belgian Beer Party on July 23 and the Strong Ale Festival (the Port’s biggest annual event) on December 2 and 3. Time to mark your calendars and start working up that tolerance!

571 Carlsbad Village Dr., Carlsbad, 760.720.7007

Pizza in the Raw

So, after gorging during the holidays (and getting your fill of the aforementioned pizza and growlers full of beer), you’ll probably want to temper things out by eating something at least a wee bit healthful. I’m sure that sentence left you with visions of salads, soups or perhaps rubbery chicken, but that’s actually not where I’m going with this. And why would I? Most of the ingredients that make salad great are woefully out of season right now, soups may warm the soul in cold weather but man cannot live on broth alone and bland boiled chicken breast—that’s just a bad idea all the time. No, my fellow post-holiday I’m talking about, yes, more pizza …Naked Pizza to be exact. Built on the notion that you don’t have to dodge your foods that make life worth living to eat more consciously, this nationwide chain recently touched down in PB and is gaining fans who find nutritional value in pies made of wholesome, preservative- and chemical-free ingredients stacked on top of rounds of dough made with blends of fiber rich grains that are said to follow an olden “ancestral” recipe. This time-tested dough (which also comes in a “skinny” version) contains more than 10 seeds and grains that are fortified by probiotics, which, from the sounds of it, work as something of a miracle addition to do everything from improving digestive health to strengthening bones and keeping weight down. Of course, as with most things, moderation is still the key, but a warm slice beats a cold stick of PB-slathered celery any day. Look for future iterations of this chain to open up in Hillcrest and Point Loma later this year.

909 Grand Ave., Pacific Beach, 619.752.2445