With room for only 20 oenophiles within its tasting quarters, Proprietor’s Reserve Wine Bar crafts a menu of regional dishes designed to complement the establishment's colossal selection of wines. The next tasting event, the Best of France meal, features six Franco-influenced dishes and six carefully matched wines, with each bite and sip enhancing the other in a flavorsome tag-team taste-bud assault. Past dinners have highlighted the cuisine of other regions, including South Africa, a meal that boasted unique small plates and entrees such as diced chicken slathered in apricot-ginger sauce and wine-braised short ribs with crème fraiche smashed potatoes, and a gathering dedicated to Moffett Vineyards' wines featured epicurean cameos by risotto studded with spicy sausage, garlic, chive, and leek paired with a selection of C&T Cellars sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.
This North Park eatery is renowned chef Matt Gordon’s first restaurant in San Diego (he has three now) and it’s remained a local favorite for the past seven years. Set in a New Orleans-style yellow house, Urban Solace hosts a festive packed affair each Sunday with their live bluegrass brunch. Their homemade buttermilk cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing are a worthwhile splurge and other delectables include homemade cheddar and chive biscuits and butter pecan french toast. Chef Gordon’s modern American cuisine favors organic, sustainable and natural foods, and the chef makes his own sauces and condiments. For dinner, customers can start with black mussels dotted with potatoes and bacon lardon, and then try the barbecued-glazed Duroc pork belly with creamy grits for some Southern flair. The craft cocktail program provides fun sippers like their Cuke Mule, organic cucumber-infused vodka with ginger syrup, fresh key lime and ginger beer.
The fare is always fresh at T-Deli, where chefs source their ingredients from local markets each day. Using family recipes, they pull these ingredients together to craft custom-made roast beef sandwiches, avocado BLTs, and a selection of tortas, including chipotle chicken with jack cheese. Other light options include salads, wraps, and quesadillas, all of which pair with hot and cold teas, smoothies, and even sangria.
Bite into at Medjoul dates stuffed with gorgonzola or potato herb gnocchi with bay scallops at Bite. Chef Chris Walsh of Confidential Restaurant and Loft serves French and Italian-influenced finger-food in small, tapas-style dishes. Deviled eggs with salmon caviar and banana pepper sauce for $3.50 and swordfish skewers for $5 mean you can sample and share plenty of plates for $55.
At Wine Steals, a casual wine bar and market the bar?s barrels and shelves are filled with more than 40 international wines. The executive chef, a former US Navy galley cook, arranges artisanal meat and cheese boards and crafts wine-themed international flavor combinations that either spread onto pizzas or curl up into sandwiches. For example, the pinot noir combo mixes Italian flavors of prosciutto, asiago, mozzarella, and white truffle oil.
Servers suggest ideal pairings to novice and experienced oenophiles as they pass drinks and plates across a 14-seat stone bar topped with European-style zinc. Above the bar, a chalkboard framed by wine barrels lists 40 vintages available by the half glass, glass, or bottle. Throughout the space, plush couches and chairs gather around wine barrels with wooden tabletops for more intimate gatherings or heated staring-contest championships. Wine Steals? casual approach to wine and eclectic food has earned it the title of Best Wine Bar in the San Diego Union-Tribune's 2012 readers' poll.
Olivetto Ristorante and its owner Angelo Fiore welcome patrons with homey ambiance and selection of modern Italian fare influence by classic recipes. In 2008, the San Diego Reader claimed "it has all the virtues of a 'neighborhood Italian joint' ? warmth, spirit, informality, prices not too bad ? but the food is better than most," and Zagat's menu rating of "very good to excellent" supports this assertion. They make their own ravioli and pesto in-house and bake fresh loaves of bread. To accompany meals, the caf? also features a wine selection with refreshing whites and heartier reds from around the world, including authentic Italian offerings. Olivetto welcomes any meeting, from business get-togethers to romantic dinners.