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Even having the weirdest restroom in S.D. (a sprawling space that obliterated the traditional loo gender privacy that exists for a reason) couldn't save Suite & Tender.

Being located on the second floor of downtown's Sé San Diego hotel was the closest the restaurant got to getting off the ground. Their high-end meats and seafoods and contemporary luxury concept came along at the wrong time for cash-strapped victims of the economy, and subsequent attempts at more affordable fare failed to bring diners into the often barren, mausoleum-like dining room.

Affordability will be something the restaurant that's taking Suite & Tender's place will focus on. The new spot, which opens on September 23, is called Saltbox, and everything at the new "gastro-lounge" will be $25 or less. Like just about every eatery that's opened in the past half decade, the menu will be ingredient driven, and those edibles will be procured largely from local purveyors.

The chef at the helm of the new venture is Simon Dolinky, who worked at L.A.'s Hotel Palomar before sousing under executive chef Christian Graves at Hotel Solamar's Jsix. Sample dishes from his yet-to-be-announced bill of fare include lobster corn dogs with ginger remoulade, beef-cheek tacos with snap pea kim chee, and crispy fried asparagus with a poached egg dressed with paprika vinaigrette.

Dishes are designed as "social plates" that strive to be easily digestible, from both a literal and conceptual standpoint. Will they be enough to turn this spot around? As illustrated by Suite & Tender's shortcomings, regularly filling a space that holds 175 guests can be quite the challenge.

Saltbox will be located on 1047 Fifth Avenue.


Saltbox Executive Chef Simon Dolinky

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