Friday, July 01, 2005 | Pacific Beach, or “PB,” can be a tough place to get to … especially during the summer months when the traffic swells with beachgoers. Once on Mission Boulevard, the area has an interesting collection of shops, restaurants and bars. On the spot that once housed Skip Frye’s surfboard shop, is the new Tower23 Hotel and its restaurant JRDN. This neo-modern glass box complex is the brainchild of PB restaurateur and developer Brett Miller, already known for his popular Gringo’s Cocina y Cantina and Moondoggie’s in PB and La Jolla. Miller and his partners, Vern and Mary Taylor (they own the land) wanted an urban beach resort with an eye towards the smaller boutique hotels of Kimpton and the W. The Taylors are well-known in the community as they generously donated $3.75 million for the new 12,000 square foot Manuel Oncina-designed library on the three-acre site, formerly Farnum Elementary School.
First the JRDN thing: It’s Jordan without the vowels and it’s the name of Miller’s father and son. Then the 23 thing: It is lifeguard Tower 23 on the beach in front of the hotel as well as the birthday of Miller and his son.
Now for the food of JRDN: Executive Chef Victor Jimenez studied in Paris, France, apprenticed under Executive Chef Bernard Guillas when he was at U.S. Grant Grill, then was Executive Chef at a couple of well-known San Diego eateries before joining Gringo’s as Executive Chef in August 2002. His menu is simple and not long. Starters include tartare of ahi, a charcuterie plate, crispy tofu, seafood ravioli with Thai flavors, or a baked Humboldt Fog goat cheese. There is steak from Meyer ranch (hormorne-free), free-range chicken, bread from Con Pane and seafood from sustainable sources. JRDN is the first San Diego restaurant to partner with the Seafood Watch Program, part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that helps raise our awareness of how our seafood is caught and where it is farmed. Prices range from $7 to $13 for appetizers and $16 to $38 for entrees. Tower23 Hotel and JRDN, 4551 Ocean Blvd., next to the Crystal Pier, (858) 270-JRDN (5736). Opens July 10.
Practically a PB landmark is Zanzibar Café, a great place for coffee as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner. It recently had a light face-lift with new wall paint and new registers. A pal who used to live in PB has eaten there for years after her daily gym trek, and the daughter of a friend loves the place, too. The menu is served all day and it’s good with all manner of breakfast eggs, scrambles and omelettes; cereals; sides of rosemary potatoes and turkey sausage; hot and cold sandwiches; pizzas served on focaccia; and salads. I love the poached eggs and friends have a thing for the Cowboy’s eggs with fresh spinach, mushrooms, tomato and cheddar cheese. Also notable: Nothing on the menu is over $9.95 with most items in the $6 to $7.95 range. Open daily. Zanzibar Café, 976 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach, (858) 272-4762.
Pizza Nova in Point Loma recently moved to their new digs … gorgeous, on-the-dock views from the new restaurant in the same location on Harbor Drive. There are some new menu items, but most appealing are the large windows that look out on the boats and yachts (go next door to buy one) docked there. The room is open and there’s a bar with a plasma screen to boot, one you can actually sit at for drinks or a wood-fired pizza. Pizza Nova, 5050 North Harbor Drive, Point Loma, (619) 226-0268.
Clarification: As noted in my May 5th column, Gemelli’s Italian Grill, at Fifth Avenue and Laurel, is the solo venture of Vince Busalacchi of San Diego’s well-known restaurant family.
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 www.5dollarchef.com.