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Restaurant Reviews

‘Little licks’

Posted: January 27th, 2017 | Feature, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. Cafes in bustling Italian cities typically cater to five meal cycles: breakfast; lunch; a late-afternoon period for wine and light snacks; dinner; and dessert in the mid-evening hours, when more wine or an end-of-day cappuccino is in order. Locally grown Pappalecco, founded in 2007 by two brothers from Pisa, covers those bases.

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An encounter with jackfruit

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

As we began perusing the menu at Del Sur Mexican Cantina in South Park, our waitress interjected to describe the fare as “Mexican grandmother food with healthy twists.”

After indulging shamelessly in too many butter-laced dishes over Thanksgiving, we took comfort in knowing the frijoles achieve their creaminess from olive oil instead of lard. Seasonal fish that appears in certain items is locally sourced and grilled — no battered, fried stuff from what we could see. And if you come knocking for a salad, the “cantina” medley combines about 10 different veggies with charred panela cheese and citrus vinaigrette.

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Where the sea meets 30th Street

Posted: November 18th, 2016 | Food & Drink, North Park, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Limes, avocados and fresh fish rule the day at Ceviche House, a brick-and-mortar offshoot to a farmers market venture started a few years ago by Mexico City native Juan Carlos Recamier.

In the absence of a stove and fryer, the ceviches incorporate a variety of raw fish choices in lively constructs inspired by different regions of Mexico and Peru.

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One kitchen, three countries  

Posted: November 4th, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

It isn’t uncommon for Mediterranean restaurants to scramble into their menus the cuisines of neighboring countries, particularly in those owned by Middle Easterners. At Kabob Village, the bill of fare captures various, distinct dishes of Greece, Iran and Afghanistan while celebrating the charbroiled meat kabobs all three nations share in common.

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Thai recipes from a ‘secret corner’

Posted: October 21st, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Unless a Thai restaurant offers something more audacious than basil fried rice and other standardized dishes, I can’t find much to write about. It’s actually easier to describe the flavor nuances that exist among everyday foods such as tacos and pizzas than it is when comparing one eatery’s drunken noodles to another.
The menu at Street Side Thai Kitchen stretches beyond the usual suspects with things like top sirloin salad, tropical duck curry, and a slew of cheekier dishes you won’t find in other Thai establishments. Those are listed under a section titled “secret corner,” which our personable waitress described as “exclusive recipes of the house.”

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Fifth Avenue’s big, bold izakaya

Posted: October 7th, 2016 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

The Octopus Restaurant Group based in Los Angeles has nudged a tentacle into Uptown’s ubiquitous sushi scene with the hope of perhaps giving us something we haven’t experienced before.

For some, the flashy design elements and modern presentations of Japanese cuisine at H20 Sushi and Izakaya in Hillcrest provide a novel and exciting safe haven from the staid sushi haunts of the past two decades. With a full cocktail bar in place, it arrived in July to one the neighborhood’s nicest modern structures, in a spacious storefront left vacant by D Bar.

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Madeleine’s baby sister  

Posted: September 23rd, 2016 | Food & Drink, North Park, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Her christening party two weeks ago featured free crepes for everyone and the arrival of flower boxes outside her home. Inside, a freshly built kitchen and espresso bar were already in place for the early-August birth of this darling newcomer to North Park.

Say hello to Café Madeleine. She’s the namesake sibling of the humble crepery in South Park, which Christine Perez launched several years ago under the culinary guidance of two French transplants: restaurateur Jerome Gombert of the former Vagabond, and chef Patrick Ponsaty, who headed up fine-dining kitchens locally and internationally before landing at Bellamy’s in Escondido.

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