John Donne 9 p.m., May 27
Notes: Amateur Bartenders, La Jolla Tasting Menus, etc....
With summer fully underway, local restaurants are mixing up their menus and programs to enliven the summer scene as best they can. Here are a few notes on some of the interesting things going down in the coming weeks:
Edit (7/23): I was, regrettably, confused about the issue of free dessert at Burlap. It turns out that there is no such promotion and I apologize for any sweet tooth that was unnecessarily excited!
Burlap, Brian Malarkey's "Asian Cowboy" restaurant in Del Mar, is giving away free desserts during August and September. Guests who spend $50 or more will receive a complimentary dessert from the new menu by Anthony Sinsay, formerly of Harney Sushi. According to Brandon Hernandez in his Feast! entry from a few weeks back, Sinsay has enlightened the previously underwhelming cuisine at Burlap and this opportunity for free sweets might just win over reluctant first-timers to Burlap.
Sidebar, in the Gaslamp, is launching a "Top Guest Bartender" to invigorate its Industry Wednesdays, when hospitality workers can show a paystub or business card to get drink specials and a waived cover charge. Bar guests will have the chance to work the bar for an evening, no prior experience required, and earn tips that they can donate to charity. This kind of thing could easily turn into a hilarious circus, but the good intentions of raising a few bucks for charity put an attractive spin on it. Interested parties should contact the bar beforehand (sidebarsd.com) to sign up as individuals or groups.
The Sky Room at La Valencia Hotel has re-opened and it looks like the restaurant will be embracing economic recovery by focusing on a pricey, yet compelling, tasting menu rather than the a la carte options that have tempted thrifty patrons, even in fine restaurants. Enigmatically presented, the menu seems to promise an exemplary degustation with dishes like raw scallop with watermelon and radish or pork that's been trimmed with corn and blueberries. Pricing for the tasting is $95 per person and an additional wine pairing is available for $55. Reservations are strongly recommended at 858-551-3761.
Finally, URBN Coal Fired Pizza, still fully invested in the craft cocktail movement, is trying to resurrect a cocktail named the "Swizzle" from relative obscurity. Swizzles, typically rum based drinks that feature an oddball mixing technique that's neither stirring nor shaking, date back to Prohibition-era cocktail culture. URBN will be featuring a different kind of Swizzle every week through labor day and setting the price on the novelty cocktails at a reasonable $7.