Eva Knott 10:44 a.m., May 18
In some cities, diners are just as interested in who designed a new restaurant as who designed its menu. While San Diegans definitely appreciate good design and flock to nicely put-together and aesthetically appealing eateries, few get hung up about the interior/exterior masterminds behind them. Yet, many a local foodie are familiar with the name Philippe Beltran.
Beltran is known for outfitting cozy French and Mediterranean spots including Kensington’s Bleu Boheme, South Park’s Vagabond, and OB hot-spot Bo Beau with his eclectic, globetrotting Frenchman style. In each of these spaces, he has instilled similar motifs, but done so in distinctly different ways. San Diego now sports another spot that’s quintessentially Beltran—100 Wines Hillcrest (1027 University Avenue).
As he did with Bo Beau, the last Cohn Restaurant Group project he worked on, he has brought in numerous items shipped over from Europe. This time, he was going for an Old World Viennese feel. Elements that realize that vision include a 1920s chalkboard and a marble counter-top, as well as metal bands taken from old wine barrels. Beltran bent the latter to his will, making them into stylish hanging light fixtures that fit nicely with the new wine and small bites venue’s reclaimed rusticity.
The bar area is a coming together of antique miscellany that’s bordered on the right by a wall of wine bottle-filled cubbies. A small dining area is filled out by an L-shaped formation of small tables featuring split seating—hunker down on the chairs from the space’s former occupant, Buonissimo 2, or settle into a banquet upholstered with faded grain sack material. That fabric choice ties together a room that, with its stone and weathered words, is charmingly and comfortably Old World.
An 18-seat front patio provides an al fresco wining and dining option, as does a back patio that, for this part of town, is quite spacious and well put together with an industrial combination of wood, dark metals, and cement that’s warmed, both literally and figuratively, by a fireplace, and punched up with interesting light fixtures. Other indoor seating includes a row of tables in the hallway leading to the back patio as well as a large table abutting the south wall. There’s also a more intimate space that seats eight. The former Buonissimo office, Beltran’s remodeled it, giving it farmhouse charm thanks mostly exposed wooden beams.
As with other spots he’s designed, you can find Beltran’s personal touches everywhere. His soccer jersey number, his wife’s favorite number, the title of a Peruvian love song, even the names of the constructors who built 100 Wines and a thank you message to them all (you can see this if you’re sitting at the bar and look directly up at the ceiling) have been scattered throughout the space.
This is the second 100 Wines location. The first opened earlier this year in Maui. This one’s a little easier to get to, and its soft open period begins tonight (Friday, August 17).