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If it seems chef Brian Malarkey is everywhere these days, that’s because he pretty much is. After the runaway success of he and partner James Brennan’s first restaurant, downtown’s Searsucker, the duo moved north to Del Mar Highlands less than a year later to open Burlap behind the culinary thematic of “Asian cowboy.”

Shortly after that glam dragon and paper lantern appointed eatery, Malarkey announced not one, not two, but three new projects slated for 2012, all located in different communities of San Diego County. When he told me about the spot in La Jolla, I thought it quite logical.

When he mentioned Point Loma, I figured just about everybody’s getting in on the action out there, so it only makes sense for him to do so, too. Then he said “La Mesa” and my eyebrow raised.

As it turns out, the latter location will be the first to debut when Gingham (who knew cowpokes were so into fashion and fabrics?) opens in the spot formerly occupied by Gio Wine Bar in downtown La Mesa on Monday, January 9. Described as an “Urban Cowboy Diner,” the spot is envisioned to fill a role for the somewhat sleepy community (I’ve lived there, so I’m allowed to say it) as a lively hub.

The location is certainly prime for that utility and the installation of a huge bar offering craft beer and hand-crafted cocktails from Snake Oil Cocktail Co. should certainly help to increase the liveliness on La Mesa Boulevard.

The food should be a bit of an upgrade as well, at least from an imagination standpoint. Chef de Cuisine Ryan Studebaker, who’s coming over from Del Mar’s Prepkitchen, will be presenting a meaty menu based on various styles of barbecue—straight-up, sandwich-style, smoked and more. The bill of fare will be divided into categories such as “not from a can,” “baked,” “oil boil,” “low and slow,” “smoked” and “charbroil.”

Offerings will include dishes such as Julian Hard Cider-infused pork shoulder with fried kale; venison osso bucco made with stout beer, chipotles and chocolate; and a brisket made with “Mama’s Dry Rub.” Lunch service will also be offered, featuring salads, sandwiches, dogs and sausages.

So what’s with all the cowboy stuff? Most don’t know Malarkey beyond his 2007 appearance on season three of Top Chef, but he actually grew up on a horse ranch. So, there’s legitimacy behind the common theme permeating his restaurant regime.

One thing that’s out of character about Gingham, however, is the fact that everything’s under $20, making this the most affordable of the chef’s venues. Gingham is located at 8384 La Mesa Boulevard.

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