Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Yet more musical chefs:: Delicias
You've read already about Amy DiBiase taking over the kitchen at The Shores. (That's so great, I think she'll work beautifully with manager/sommelier Lisa Redwine in a Woman-Run team. High time that more women were in power positions in restaurants. ) And you've probably read Brandon's post about Jason Maitland's replacement by Brian Redzikowski at Flavors Del Mar.
Now here's something of a shocker -- or eye-opener, anyway. Chef Paul McCabe (whom many consider one of the best in SD), after 7 years at Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar, is moving to Delicias in Rancho Santa Fe in mid-November, even as Delicias itself undergoes major changes.
Delicias was known for its beautiful edible garden (even back when growing on-site was a rarety, before the recent rise of the rabid locavore). Originally, Wolfgang Puck was involved in it in some way, possibly as an investor, and even recently, the restaurant's latest chef, Michael Knowles, was hired after stints at two of Puck's Las Vegas outposts. .
But the customer base had evidently dropped considerably over the last ten years. Maybe the food had lost a certain spark. (So I've heard from former regulars, who used to travel all the way from the East Bay to shop at Chino Farms first thing Saturday morning and then lunch at Delicias) Maybe the place had lost its Puckish eclat. Let's face it, the more famous, celeb-catching Milles Fleurs gobbles up most of the diners who'll travel to this rather remote location for what the trade calls "fine food." (And there probably aren't enough locals living in RSF to keep any fine restaurant alive all by themselves.) The restaurant won Wine Spectator's Best Award of Excellence for 2011 with its huge inventory of bottlings, but apparently its food needed work to equal its bevs.
So it's presto change-o time. Manager Alex Campbell wants to change the menu to make it more "approachable... more upscale casual." (Does that mean lower prices?) No more tablecloths, and a greater emphasis on modern American cuisine. The restaurant will shut down in January for physical renovations, and then the owners hope to open four more branches of Delicias.
As for McCabe, he was creatively ready to open his own restaurant, but logistically that's incredibly difficult, with the need to find investors, get licenses, etc. Here, McCabe can just step right into a more intimate venue than the huge 1540. (At least until the owners start building the four branches.)
More like this:
- Delicias' New Menu: Second Course — July 26, 2012
- The Last Piece of the Del Mar’s Puzzle Is in Place — Jan. 6, 2012
- The Missing Point in Del Mar's Chef Triangle — Nov. 1, 2011
- boo-hoos - losing our best again, plus Chef Cel — April 6, 2011
- Better Seating Now at Origano, etc. etc. — March 16, 2011