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A year ago, I was interviewing chef Jason Maitland about his soon-to-open restaurant, Flavor Del Mar. He was as excited as any toque I’ve met and working nearly nonstop to develop new dishes that would serve as a representation of himself and the new restaurant’s style.

Having made a name for himself among San Diego diners while at the helm of Arterra at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar, his was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year (not too shabby, considering 2010 also marked the arrival of Carl Schroeder’s Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant and Brian Malarkey’s Searsucker).

The doors opened, and foodies flocked. At first, anyway. Many critics loved Maitland’s menu (some way too emphatically, if you ask this local food writer). Despite solid reviews and being entrenched in the center of a community that’s home to some of the most loyal diners in the county, Flavor consistently struggled to fill its dining room. Why? One theory posits it's because the restaurant was segmented into two halves — a bar area near the entrance and a completely separate dining room located across an interior bridge. The bar was much cooler and often had local chefs dining in it, making it attractive for Flavor's core clientele. So much so, in fact, I was hardly surprised when Flavor took over a space next door and built Sip at Flavor Del Mar, a lounge complete with craft cocktails, niche wine, and house-cured nibbles.

No definitive reason has been given for the latest turn of events at Flavor, but Maitland has been let go. Taking over the back of the house will be executive chef Brian Redzikowski, a CIA standout who’s put in time at the three-star Michelin Joel Robuchon at the Mansion in Las Vegas as well as NYC’s acclaimed Le Cirque, Alain Ducasse and Le Bernardin. A former competitor on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, it’ll be interesting to see if he has the gastronomic fortitude to win over Del Mar and the SD dining public at large.

Flavor Del Mar is located at 1555 Camino del Mar.

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