By Frank Sabatini Jr.
The Friendly Tavern has soft-opened in place of North Park’s Carnitas Snack Shack. Like its predecessor, the eatery features a walk-up order window, and seating with a full bar in the back. The bill of fare, however, is different. It loosely matches the burger concept of The Friendly located several blocks away (4592 30th St.), but sans any pizza.
“This is closer to my original vision,” said founder Brandon Zanavich, who partnered with former Carnitas Snack Shack owner Hanis Cavin.
The new offshoot features six types of burgers opposed to only the “dirty flattop” burger with no modifications permitted at the first location. Versions include mushroom-Swiss; Western-style barbecue; and a chorizo patty with jalapenos and aioli. In addition, french fries and onion rings are available, and Zanavich allows for the additions or omissions of condiments and garnishments.
Lastly, trendy cocktails aren’t in the offing, but standard mixed drinks are.
For the next couple of weeks, daily hours of operation are 5 to 10 p.m., although starting on Sept. 28, the eatery will open at noon on weekends. 2632 University Ave.
Acclaimed chocolatier Will Gustwiller is celebrating the 15th anniversary of his South Park business, Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro. In addition to a series of events on tap through the end of the year, Gustwiller has introduced a special lavender-salted chocolate-toffee bar commemorating the anniversary. Using 38% fair trade cocoa, it also features white chocolate and cocoa nibs. The bar is available at the store and online for $9.
Among the events planned, Eclipse will hold multi-course “supperclub” dinners on Oct. 11 and 12, each featuring “15 small bites.” The menu draws upon signature dishes the bistro has presented over the past 15 years. They include bacon-wrapped dates with cocoa balsamic glaze; golden beet carpaccio with candied cocoa nibs; and chicken-fried steak with garlic and vanilla-bean sausage gravy.
The cost is $75 per person (tax, tip and beverages not included). Reservations are required. 2145 Fern St., 619-578-2984, eclipsechocolate.com.
“Whiskey around the world” is the theme for a guided tasting from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Sept. 27, at Vom Fass in the HUB Hillcrest Market. The event features four selected tastings of whiskey produced in the U.S., Ireland, Scotland and either Belgium or Austria. Attendees will then get to choose a fifth whiskey from the store’s inventory.
Each pour measures 1 1/2 ounces. Hillcrest Vom Fass co-owner, Jay Cavalieri, will explain the origins and production processes of the spirits. The cost is $40 per person, which includes appetizers made in-house. Reservations are required. 1050 University Ave., 619-534-5034, hillcrest.vomfassusa.com.
Now is the time to sample all those restaurants on your bucket list as San Diego Restaurant Week gets underway, from Sept. 22-29. The expansive biannual event features more than 180 restaurants participating countywide. All of them will offer either two-course lunches or three-course dinners at bargain prices ranging from $10 to $50.
Among the Uptown establishments taking part are Bo-beau Kitchen + Cache; Et Voila French Bistro; Great Maple; Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant; Cafe Coyote; Farmer’s Bottega; Harley Gray Kitchen & Bar; Mister A’s, and more. For further details, visit: sandiegorestaurantweek.com.
For the first time since opening nearly three years ago, Madison in University Heights has rolled out a brand-new cocktail menu that puts to use obscure ingredients such as avocado pit orgeat for the rum-based “Any Port in a Storm”; passion fruit “sparkle dust” for a Peruvian pisco; and pea flowers for the gin-spiked “Queen of Crowns.” Other highlights include a vegan milk punch, and an umami cocktail with Japanese whiskey. 4622 Park Blvd., 619-269-6566, madisononpark.com.
Despite rumors that Sirens Bar & Restaurant in Hillcrest has closed for good, owner Frankie Terzoli recently stated via text message to San Diego Uptown News: “We are 100%…we are reopening.” Murmurings have also surfaced that new owners will take over, which is yet to be confirmed.
The seafood-centric restaurant announced Aug. 6 on Facebook that it was temporarily closing for a “refreshing remodel” even though it had already undergone design changes when Terzoli took over the space from Pardon My French. The notice further states the restaurant is estimated to reopen in September even though its phone number remains out of service.
As of press time, Terzoli has not responded to our inquiries regarding details about the remodel or when business will resume. Stay tuned for further details. 3797 Park Blvd., sirenssd.com.
— Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.