By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Uptown News Food Briefs
Missouri native Roy Elam has taken animal proteins out of Southern cooking at a restaurant he opened recently in Hillcrest called Donna Jean. It’s named after his late mother and features dishes such as black-eyed pea burgers, bourbon chili, tempeh Salisbury steak with red eye gravy, and cast-iron mac and cheese using cashew milk.
The menu extends to a few desserts as well, including non-dairy buttermilk sugar pie.
Elam converted to a plant-based diet more than 10 years ago and was head chef at two different vegan restaurants in Los Angeles before moving here. He launched Donna Jean in partnership with the owners of Evolution, a vegan eatery next door, and Plant Power in Ocean Beach.
His drink menu includes wine, craft beers, ciders, kombucha, teas and Dark Horse coffee. 2949 Fifth Ave., 619-299-5500, donnajeansd.com.
San Diego-based Pure Project Brewing will debut its newest beer, The Mind Expander, from noon to 4 p.m., March 19, at Carnitas Snack Shack in North Park.
The eatery’s chef-owner, Hanis Cavin, will dish up “specialty bites” to pair with the suds, which the brew masters describe as “one-of-a-kind English cream ale with honey.”
In addition, the Shack’s special sandwich of the month is a muffaletta with ham, salami, mortadella, white cheddar and pickled veggies on ciabatta.
Available through the end of March, it sells for $11.75, with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for the North Park Public Library. 2632 University Ave., 619-294-7675, carnitassnackshack.com.
The French Table in Hillcrest is up and running, although it’s still without a website listing the signature dishes constructed by chef-owner Wilfried Lefebre, who moved here in December from a small town in the French Alps.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a preliminary peek inside revealed a menu of various omelets, Normandy crepes, beef bourguignon, cheese fondue, panini sandwiches and more.
Weekday deals are also offered, such as all-you-can-eat mussels on Tuesdays for $25, and three-course dinners for $29 on Thursdays. 142 University Ave., 424-394-7835.
Contrary to circulating rumors, the obscure Mark’s Bark barbecue restaurant in Normal Heights has not closed — at least not yet.
The building was recently put up for sale by owner Beverly Beattie, who uses its commercial kitchen to run Bettina’s Custom Catering. Her son, Mark Manfred, oversees Mark’s Bark, which is open from noon to 6 p.m. only on Sundays.
Beattie plans on retiring once the building sells, and Manfred, she said, hasn’t decided if he’ll pursue a new space or food truck for selling his smoked meats if a buyer emerges. 3641 Madison Ave., 619-285-9578.
Kilowatt Brewing has opened a tasting room in Ocean Beach with a tap list of 16 cleverly named brand beers, such as S3 Strawberry Sour, Bird on a Wire Porter, Galaxy Hoptastic Voyage, and the high-octane Trippy Belgian, which rings in at 9.9 percent alcohol.
Based in Kearny Mesa, the company calls itself a “nanobrewery” because it produces “unique-styled” beer in small batches. The space features psychedelic-style artwork, zany light fixtures and an outdoor patio. 1875 Cable St., 619-255-9975, kilowatt.beer.
In celebration of International Women’s Day (known also as Festa Della Donna), which was held on March 8, a powerhouse of local female chefs will unleash their talents at Cucina Enoteca Del Mar on March 12, as they serve foods from eight different stations in collaboration with acclaimed West Coast winemakers, brewers and distillers.
Among the chefs taking part are Giselle Wellman of Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen; Isabel Cruz of Barrio Star and Isabel’s Cantina; Karen Krasne of Extraordinary Desserts; Jenny Goycochea of Tasting Room Del Mar; and more.
The event will be held from 4–7 p.m. Tickets are $68 in advance and $80 the day it’s held. They can be purchased online at urbankitchengroup.com. 2370 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, 858-704-4500.
San Diego’s first café devoted to matcha — a green tea grown in Japan and touted for calming nerves — arrives March 11 to North Park in a former trophy store.
The pink-painted café, named Holy Matcha, is the brainchild of Geraldine Ridaura, who became intrigued by the vibrant-green drink during a trip to Japan. Her menu will feature everything from lemonade and lattes to pound cakes and glazed vanilla doughnuts, all containing the earthy tea. 3118 University Ave., holymatchasd.com.
Fashion Valley Mall’s River Plaza area marks the spot for the second annual Sabor Latino Food, Beer and Wine Festival, which will be held from 1–5 p.m. March 18.
The event correlates to the San Diego Latino Film Festival (March 16-26) and will afford guests unlimited tastings of Latino foods and beverages from dozens of regional and Baja-based restaurants, breweries and wineries.
Participants include Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant, Harrah’s Resort Southern California, Mi Casa Supper Club, Mantou Pub, Baja Brew Lab, Adobe Guadalupe Winery, and more.
Tickets are $50 (for 1 p.m. VIP admission) and $40 (2 p.m. general admission). All proceeds will benefit youth education and outreach programs at Media Arts Center San Diego. 7007 Friars Road, 619-230-1938, sdlatinofilm.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.