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The Coast News

Lick the Plate highs and lows of 2016

David Boylan

Chicken Parm Sub from Manhattan Giant Pizza
My go-to chicken parm sub from late Manhattan Giant Pizza was one of my biggest losses of the year. Photo Brooks Venters

It was another fun year of Licking the Plate in North County with another crop of stellar new restaurant and culinary discoveries, profiles of local businesses dining habits, and just random free flowing foodie thoughts. It was not all good news though; there were some losses yet overall, I’d say the positive developments far outweighed the negative. With that let’s start with the good stuff.

Campfire opened in Carlsbad and quickly established itself as not only one of the go-to restaurants in North County but San Diego as a whole. Executive chef Andrew Bachelier who cut his chops at Blanca, Addison and Cucina Enoteca, is tending the fires at Campfire and is killing it.

Fresh off my column from last week, and 2 years in the making, Moto Deli and chef Andy Halvorsen are the shining new stars in Leucadia. While we all mourned the loss of Sub Palace, Moto Deli is making their departure much easier to take. I will keep you posted on chef Andy’s planned house-cured corned beef sandwich coming soon.

Rosati’s Chicago themed bar and grill in Encinitas brought us a slice of the windy city and their Italian Beef is a respectable substitute for the real deal. This place went completely bonkers when the Cubs won the World Series.

I was introduced to Kombucha through the chef duo of Michael Zonfrilli and Steven Strupp whose chef crafted Bambucha Kombucha launched locally. Consider me fully on this healthy and delicious new beverage category poised to go mainstream. Since their column a couple months ago they have expanded their distribution and are poised for a breakout 2017. I’ll have an update on their progress later this year.

Birdseye Kitchen is another new local favorite with their beauty of a location and design combined with their Asian comfort food. My favorite besides their fab Spring Rolls is the Curry Noodles or Khao-poon ga-lee gai that consisted of coconut curry broth, chicken, rice vermicelli noodles, onions, mint, bean sprouts, organic potatoes, carrots, cabbage and cilantro. The combination of flavors and textures and mild heat is a fine new winter soup option.

Land & Water in Carlsbad was one of the hotspots that slipped through the Lick the Plate cracks for one reason or another. In the two years since they opened, the raves from foodie friends in the know continued to pour in so it was about time to experience it for myself. After the amazing experience I had there I’m a bit embarrassed it took this long.

While not new to the scene, Prep Kitchen in Del Mar, Leucadia Pizzeria, Leucadia Farmers Market, El Torito Market in Leucadia, the Vista Flying Pig, Chandler’s at the rebranded Hilton Cape Rey, Mission Avenue Bar & Grill, the new menu at Solterra all provided experiences I would still recommend. And of course there was the mystery of the Chinese/Italian menu at Chinatown in Leucadia. I’d always chuckled to myself when I passed Chinatown – Chinese and Italian cuisine and wonder who is ordering Italian food from a Chinese restaurant and how did this combination happen? Then I remembered that I was in funky Leucadia, and well, its just part of the funk still left. It was a fun column to write and easily searchable should you wish to unravel the mystery.

Some of the fun local businesses I had the pleasure to work with on a LTP column takeover were Surfy Surfy, Corner Frame Shop, Utopia Style Lounge and the 101 Artists Colony. Those are always a great way to expose some of my favorite North County businesses to the Coast News audience.

Running a successful, profitable restaurant is a tricky proposition these days, especially in the hyper competitive North County market and failure is just part of the game. It’s always a bummer though when old favorites like Manhattan Giant and Kealani’s are forced to close not for lack of business but as a result of situations beyond their control. Namely property owners cashing in on prime location and developers that give little thought to keeping establishments around that are part of the fabric of a community. That’s nothing new though, change happens, and it’s not always for the better.

And while the loss of writer and gourmand Jim Harrison may have been buried in a year of big name celebrity deaths, his death had a profound impact on me as his writing and lust for life and food have inspired me for years. If you have not yet discovered his large body of works, I would highly suggest it. Start with The Raw and the Cooked, a compilation of his columns for Esquire and other publications over the years.

And bon appétit to a fabulous 2017 filled with good eating and health!

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