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FOODfare: Supper Club Mania


Gone Clubbing

It seems like only yesterday I was writing about the hip new trend of gourmet food trucks. And it seems like mere hours since I penned my piece on the hip new trend that replaced gastrotrucks—pop-up restaurants. Now, something else has come along. But it’s not some brand new innovation. Strangely enough, it’s a blast from the past—the supper club—that’s coming on strong. Several eateries have opened with different takes on the concept, the latest of which is AIRR, a spacious second-story venue situated in the space on Market Street that housed The Witherby. Largely comprised of two rooms, one sheet white, the other a startlingly vivid shade of crimson, AIRR is a modern version of a supper club centered around social dining. The white room features long tables where it’s nearly impossible not to make new friends (in the best case scenario), while the red room is made for lounging and downing specialty cocktails. Eye opening tipples are also the name of the game at the most fitting spot for a classic supper club, the Grant Grill at the U.S. Grant Hotel. Those cocktails are crafted by one of San Diego’s finest mix masters, Jeff Josenhans, who recently unveiled a seasonal flower-themed menu made up of drinks incorporating edible flowers in new and exciting ways. These horticultural wonders will be served in tandem with jazz on Saturday nights and, whereas AIRR aims for a communal environment, Grant Grill is all about providing the perfect setting for a classic date night. There’s even a special dinner and room package to help drive that home. Rounding out the club scene is Whisknladle. This popular resto was named after an NYC supper club that inspired owner Arturo Kassel to open his everything-from-scratch haven in the heart of La Jolla. On the last Tuesday of each month, 14 seats will be made available for a fixed-price family-style meal that’s more adventurous than WNL’s standard fare (suckling pig with green garlic, snail-stuffed bone marrow, etc.). The diversity exemplified by this trio is the factor that may give this retro dining movement the legs to outlast lesser flashes in the frying pan.

Lunch and Learn

The members of Cooks Confab, an assemblage of some of San Diego’s finest culinary minds, are well known for their staunch stances on issues like food education and sustainable ingredient sourcing. On April 3, the “Confablieri” are teaming up with Slow Food Urban San Diego and the San Diego Unified School District to raise awareness about something else that’s near and dear to them—the importance of nutritious school lunches in and beyond San Diego. The vehicle for their latest undertaking is School Lunch!, a four-hour foodfest where Confab chefs prepare unique school lunch-style offerings including wheat mac ‘n’ cheese with carrot turmeric purée from Farmhouse Café’s Olivier Bioteau, chicken pot pie from Jeff Jackson and T.K. Kolanko of The Lodge at Torrey Pines’ A.R. Valentien, Suzie’s Farm veggie lasagna from Café Chloe’s Katie Grebow and a duo of cream of tomato and lentil-barley soups from George’s California Modern exec chef Trey Foshee. These delicacies will be served with a side of first-hand knowledge courtesy of school administrators and cafeteria staff who are working with local farmers to create a symbiotic system that ensures high quality ingredients and maximum benefit for San Diego’s K-12 masses. The event will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at Fibonacci’s Campus Pointe Bistro in the UTC Area. Admission is $35 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under and proceeds will go toward the San Diego Unified School District’s Farm to School Program.

The French Gourmet

San Diegans have known for well over a decade what an incredible talent and human being we have in Bernard Guillas, the chef responsible for the longstanding success of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club’s eclectic white linen Marine Room restaurant. The top tier chefs from his native land have been keeping their eyes on him from afar and couldn’t agree more. Guillas was just inducted into the Maitres Cuisiners de France (Master Chefs of France), a prestigious society with just 204 members, whose goal is to “preserve and spread the French culinary art, encourage training in cuisine, and assist professional development." These are ambitions Guillas works toward daily, making him a very deserving recipient of this designation, which carries with it the possibility of even greater things to come. A number of Maitres Cusiners have gone on to receive the Legion d’Honneur du Merite Agricole (Legion of Honor Agricultural Merit Award) from the French government and, given his tireless work to proliferate the use of local farms and ranchers (way before it was cool), he seems a cinch to bring home that prize as well.

Belgian Strong

While IPAs and other hoppy concoctions tend to be the beers of choice for San Diego drinkers, many of the world’s top rated brews come out of Belgium. Of those, few are as revered as the lambics produced by Brasserie Cantillon, a revered brewery that’s been producing top notch quaffs for over a century. And we thought Karl Strauss was old at the spry age of 22! It really puts things in perspective, something that’s bound to be provided—along with a number of spectacular beers like Bruocsella 1900 Grand Cru, Cuvée des Champions and Rosé de Gambrinus—when Cantillon owner and head brewer Jean Van Roy descends like an Old World gargoyle on Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens for a Meet the Brewer event on Sunday, March 27.

The Cooking Guy

Thanks to the hit program Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Food Network’s Guy Fieri may be better known for his ability to chomp through a pulled pork sandwich than his ability to cook one up, but make no mistake. It’s his cooking chops that got him his triple-D gig and those chops will be on display in a most literal way, when the Ergo Chef road show comes to the Carlsbad Costco on March 24-27 to introduce Fieri’s “Knuckle Sandwich” line of knives.