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Friday, April 29, 2005 | Hotels, and the restaurants in them, are on my mind this week.

Jack Fisher, whose departure from Region in Hillcrest a few months ago made quite a stir, resurfaced a month ago at Nine-Ten, in La Jolla’s Grande Colonial Hotel. Coincidentally, this is where he and chef Michael Stepner worked before they opened Region. Fisher’s terrific desserts and homemade cheeses are a good match for Chef Jason Knob’s seasonal menu. Nine-Ten, 910 Prospect St., in La Jolla. For more information, call (858) 964-5400 or visit

Baseball season is in full swing at Petco Park where eating (along with parking) on game days can be a challenge. Two new hotels near the park offer bars and restaurants for pre- or post-game noshing: Jsix in the Hotel Solamar at Sixth Avenue and J Street and Soleil @ K in the Marriott, a block away at Sixth and K Street. A pal and I recently checked out both places and ended up at the bar of Jsix.

Soleil @ K has a different, yet pretty and inviting dining room – the tables are long and seating is face-to-face across the table. Lemons in foot-high, three-tiered serving dishes define the seating along the tables. The menu features wood-fired pizzas, rotisserie chicken, seared ahi tuna sandwich and honey-cured chicken wings, with most items in the $6 to $14 range. We didn’t feel the same way about the bar. It was the cold-looking chrome bar stools, the seating area’s chairs with deep seats and slanted backs and the leather cubes with acrylic tops for tables that put us off.

The bar at Jsix caught our attention with comfy chairs and a place to put your feet as you perch to drink and eat. The entire front corner seating area has high windows and a long low banquette, small round tables and lots of leather cubes … this time for seating. All can be moved around for a cozy party of two or larger groups. Jsix has a pricier and larger menu than Soleil @ K and features everything from grilled Moroccan skewers ($3.75 each) and grilled Korean beef ribs ($12.50) to grilled lemon-garlic baby chicken ($17) and an 18-ounce, bone-in grilled rib eye steak ($35). An order of coconut fried calamari comes with four large pieces, each cut into three attached strips and perfectly cooked – neither chewy nor greasy ($10.50), while the white corn and roasted poblano soup needs a little extra “oomph” and better color than its pale green-gray ($6.50). The king trumpet and shitake mushroom tart with a small salad has a rustic presentation in its twice-baked deep shell. The mushrooms are delicious, simply sautéed in their juices with nothing to bind them but their fresh flavor and a light topping of melted cheese. Jsix, 616 J St., in downtown. For more information, call (619) 531-8744 or visit

Mark your calendars for the 12th Annual Sweet Onion and BBQ Festivals at Iowa Meats and its sister Siesel’s. Iowa’s event is May 15 at 6041 Mission Gorge Road in Mission Gorge. To learn more, call (619) 281-5766 or visit

Marcie Rothman loves good food – no matter where it’s cooked – at home, a hole in the wall or a white tablecloth restaurant. Known as The $5 Chef on radio, television and in her two cookbooks, Marcie travels far and near with an eye on what’s current in food. You can find her at

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