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Chef Matt Gordon was once the darling of North Park. A bearded, burly guy whose pork belly and brown liquor serve as dual calling cards, he’s perhaps the manliest guy to ever qualify as a “darling,” but when he opened his restaurant Urban Solace in the heart of hardly-as-grown-up-as-it-is-now North Park in 2007, the community glommed onto it and have yet to go. Their fingers are probably glued by globs of sinful cinnamon roll icing.

That strong support allowed Matt and his wife Young-Mi to open a second restaurant in 2011, Solace and the Moonlight Lounge. While enough like Urban Solace to qualify as a part two, the fare at the Encinitas offshoot is less heavy, decadent southern comfort food and more coastal California with trademark touches of Matt’s base sensibilities, including his strong focus on sustainability. Two different experiences—both very satisfying.

Coastal life must appeal to the Gordons, because they just announced their plans for a third restaurant and its down Interstate 5 in Del Mar’s Flower Hill Promenade. Scheduled to open in summer, the new “American brasserie” will be called Sea & Smoke (2720 Villa de la Valle, Del Mar). It will go into the 7,500 square foot space formerly occupied by Paradise Grill.

Gordon’s kitchen will be serving up three squares a day consisting of unique spins on traditional American dishes. Dishes being teased early include Elysian Farms leg of lamb with chimichurri, baked diver scallops with oil-cured black olive crust, a vegetarian entrée of carrot confit with multi-grain risotto, pickled tangerine and a red wine reduction, and charred octopus with avocado, pepita and guajillo chile salsa. That last one will utilize Sea & Smoke’s wood-fired oven, a fun new piece of equipment for Gordon to add to his repertoire. In keeping with Gordon’s culinary and nutritional ideals, Sea & Smoke’s offerings will be devoid of artificial ingredients.

Designed by Bells & Whistles Design Firm, the space will include a dining room, sunken bar and plenty of patio space for a planned outdoor lounge. The atmosphere will be reminiscent of the ‘50s. The drinks will be culinary inspired, based on classic American tipples and made primarily from small batch American spirits. Gordon and his crew will be keeping interested foodies up-to-date on the restaurant’s progress via a newly established Twitter account--@SeaAndSmoke.

Image: Chef and restaurateur Matt Gordon

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