By Frank Sabatini Jr.
As of March 2, Heat Bar and Kitchen on the North Park/Hillcrest border will become Pardon My French Bar and Kitchen, a new venture by Eric Fillion and his wife, Lindsey. The couple said they recently purchased Heat from Sam Khorish and Pasqual Courtin, who opened the radiantly lit restaurant a few years ago after operating Urban Grind in the same space.
“We love this place so much that we’re going to make only minor changes with the community in mind,” said Fillion, who plans on adding a “European vibe” through music, art, a boutique wine list, and a few French dishes that will include Croque-monsieur (and madame) sandwiches and duck confit poutine.
The couple have been active in the art world for the past several years in their efforts to spotlight various artists through social events at local hotels and restaurants. 3797 Park Blvd., 619-546-4328
The new Madison on Park in University Heights will host its first wine dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, as the founders of Dragonette Cellars from Santa Barbara pair selected releases to four meal courses prepared by Chef Mario Cassineri. The wines will also be available for purchase at special prices during the event. Tickets are $60 per person. For reservations, call 619-269-6566 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. 4622 Park Blvd.
Farewell to Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge in North Park, which recently closed after serving as a community gathering spot and cultural hub for artists, writers and musicians since 1997. Owner Claire Magner reportedly shuttered the business because of financial losses. Magner also owns the adjacent Sunset Temple, off Kansas Street, which will remain open for rental events. 2906 University Ave.
Master Chef Loren Villalobos, who owns Tapas Picasso Restaurante in Hillcrest with her husband, David Alsman, said they are looking to move the Spanish-style restaurant as soon as possible to another location, preferably within the neighborhood or to North Park. The couple has operated the restaurant for 25 years.
Villalobos cites conflicts with the landlord, Ranpac Property Management, as reason for taking the business elsewhere.
“They wanted us to do renovations and they didn’t give us the opportunity to negotiate,” she said. “They aren’t renewing our lease, so I have to let it go.”
Property manager Roy Salameh acknowledges that Ranpac asked Villalobos and her husband to make unspecified upgrades to the restaurant. “But they weren’t willing,” he said. “Although we’re doing our best to work with them until they find a new property.”
Ranpac also owns the vacant spaces on either side of Tapas Picasso. The address to the right of it, however, was recently leased for an upcoming seafood restaurant due to open in spring. 3923 Fourth Ave., 619-294-3061, tapas-picasso.com
A second location is in the works for The Big Front Door, which established its roots with much success four years ago on Park Boulevard in University Heights. The eatery’s offshoot will open in about eight months within the mixed-use Fourth Avenue Lofts in Bankers Hill. The 2,500-square-foot space, currently under construction, will feature an outdoor patio and allow for the addition of breakfast service. 2870 Fourth Ave., bfdsandiego.com
Some of San Diego’s top female chefs are uniting for a four-course wine dinner March 8 to benefit the Center for Community Solutions, a local non-profit that provides emergency shelters to victims of domestic violence. The dinner, to be held at 6:30 p.m. at Cucina Enoteca Del Mar, also celebrates International Women’s Day and more specifically, Festa Della Donna, which commemorates the women’s liberation movement in Italy in the 19th century.
The dinner will be crafted by Rosa Geremia of Cucina Enoteca; Donna Antaloczy of Ironside Fish & Oyster; Gina Freize of Venissimo Cheese; Karrie Hills, formerly of The Red Door; and Katie Grebow, formerly of Café Chloe. Acclaimed local sommelier Lisa Redwine will oversee the wine pairings.
The cost is $125 per person (plus service fee and sales tax). Tickets can be purchased at urbankitchengroup.com. 2730 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, 858-704-4500
Grater Grilled Cheese is coming to Friars Mission Center plaza by the first week in March, into the space previously occupied by Meze Express. Popular for its namesake sandwiches using five-cheese blends and breads sourced from Bread & Cie, the concept began five years ago as a food truck before expanding into a brick-and-mortar eatery on Pearl Street in La Jolla. Its newest location will feature the same roster of grilled cheese sandwiches with protein options that include Puerto Nuevo-style lobster, hamburger patties and soy chorizo, although salads and traditional deli sandwiches will be added to the menu. 5618 Mission Center Road, Suite 1002, gratergrilledcheese.com
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.