Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Set in Concrete: Rossman Opening New Restaurant
Chef Jeff Rossman is pretty well known around San Diego. He’s helmed his restaurant, Terra (in its first iteration in Hillcrest and now as Terra American Bistro in College East) received accolades for his stunning farm-to-table cookbook, From Terra’s Table and made a name for himself on the sustainability circuit.
One thing that's remained a virtual secret is the fact his family has owned Pam Pam Cafe & Grill inside Mission Valley's Days Hotel (not to be confused with the Days Inn) for 31 years. Another little known fact (until today, anyway) - come February, he’ll be pulling double duty, putting his style and San Diego’s local produce to use for a new eatery being installed in place of Pam Pam, Bunz.
Bunz will be a casual spot serving burgers, dogs, shakes and an array of salads. As one would expect from Rossman, the salads will be comprised of veggies from Suzie’s Organic and a number of the chef’s many other farming compatriots, but the quality sourcing won’t stop there. Burgers and dogs will be made from grain- and grass-fed Meyer Natural Angus beef while buns will come from Bread & Cie and Sadie Rose.
A preliminary scan of the menu turns up a varied burger line-up including Three Li'L Pigs with ham, bacon, pulled pork and beer-thyme mustard (the most expensive at $8.95...not too shabby considering the quality); the Cobb Salad with bacon, bleu cheese and avocado; and an onion- and garlic-piled number that should probably be enjoyed in solitude dubbed All About the Garlic. "Flattop" dogs are of the build-your-own variety and can be had in tandem with "dirty chips" sprinkled with a number of house seasonings including Maui onion, jalapeño heat and mesquite BBQ.
One of the most unique offerings at Bunz will be concretes. To my knowledge, Rossman will be the only one serving up this super dense style of shake made using a combination of standard and soft serve ice creams. And since that doesn’t sound the least bit decadent, guests will be granted the liberty of going Coldstone on them, adding in the mix-ins of their choice.
Feel like mixing in some liquid courage? There'll be a beer float blending ice cream with coffee-esque Stone Smoked Porter. Prefer to avoid the oddity that is a booze-inspired trip back to childhood? There'll be a full list of traditional cocktails as well as local craft beers from the likes of Karl Strauss, Ballast Point and Manzanita.
Bunz will serve breakfast (a hearty, lengthy menu that simultaneously pays homage to and goes beyond Pam Pam Cafe's most popular meal of the day), lunch and dinner. An exact opening date has yet to be determined, but relief for concrete cravings will be attainable at 543 Hotel Circle South.