Blue Bridge Hospitality’s David Spatafore changes S.D.’s culinary scene with Liberty Public Market.
“I think the social aspect is attracting people to Liberty Public Market,” says David Spatafore, the food hall’s founder and project principal. “You’re not bound to one seat, one table or one reservation. It’s fluid—you walk around. Everybody gets something that they are looking for. It fits all molds, not just one thing.” Since opening last March, the market has seen great success thanks to its 30 vendors, like Wicked Maine Lobster and Crafted Baked Goods, but Spatafore—who’s spent the better part of the year evaluating what’s working well and what could work better—is looking to evolve LMP into the best it can be. This December, the S.D. native made the tough decision to close Liberty Public Market’s fine dining restaurant, Mess Hall, in order to open the space to additional vendors. “Inspired by the format of the Pine Street Market in Portland and confirmed by the various bars within La Boqueria in Barcelona, I recognized that we could still take a more elevated approach to our restaurant’s culinary program while integrating the format of the surrounding market and increasing common areas,” says Spatafore. “The more casual approach to in-market dining is simply a better fit with the way Liberty Public Market is used by our guests.” Thus, the space that was once Mess Hall now houses three distinct eateries: Mess Hall Bar, a fast-casual rebirth of the former eatery, offering its greatest hits like the cauliflower steak, and fish and chips; Grape Smuggler Bar, which relocated its outpost within the market and will offer an extensive wine list alongside a tapas menu; and Pi Bar, which serves up two-foot-long Roman-style pizzas. “Making [these] changes is a fun position to be in,” says Spatafore. “Before the market opened, I felt like we were selling a dream that no one could see, touch or feel. Now, we have people coming to us who want to be a part of this. We have to find space for them and find the right mix of [vendors] and people.” Liberty Public Market, 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, 619.487.9346
A TASTE OF TIME
The Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s beloved restaurant, Addison, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in September with a sumptuous 11-course tasting menu featuring a decade’s worth of guest favorites. Chef William Bradley, one of San Diego’s top culinary innovators, took diners back to 2011 with a delectable serving of caramelized sablefish paired with grilled scallions, toasted kale and dashi. Rich salmon rillettes hidden beneath a glistening layer of Osetra caviar provided a taste of 2016, while the coddled egg with corn, black truffle and bacon evoked 2010’s top flavors. Attention to detail, imaginative cuisine and noteworthy guest experiences continue to put the Addison team at the top of its game. Insider tip: Don’t miss its quarterly guest chef series, where renowned culinarians are flown in from across the country to create the ultimate multicourse tasting menu. 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, San Diego, 858.314.1900
This year, North County was graced with a tidal wave of new fine dining eateries, led by the emergence of Ponsaty’s Restaurant & Bar(6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.771.1871), Master French Chef Patrick Ponsaty’s namesake haunt in the heart of Rancho Santa Fe. The locale doles out Basque-influenced renditions of French and Spanish cuisine in an upscale yet approachable fashion. Crudo(5965 Village Way, San Diego, 858.847.2797) also made its much-anticipated debut, in Carmel Valley, with fresh Mediterranean fare from chef Pascal Lorange. The menu offers a sizable selection of shared plates that reflect the holistic ambience best illustrated by the wild edibles blooming in the presentation. In Carlsbad, John Resnick debuted his whimsical concept dubbed Campfire (2725 State St., Carlsbad, 760.637.5121). Design firm Bells & Whistles transformed the space into a camping-inspired getaway complete with live fire cooking—s’mores, anyone?—and a cheeky cocktail menu curated by Executive Chef Andrew Bachelier (CUCINA enoteca, Addison) and Bar Manager Leigh Lacap (Ironside Fish & Oyster, Sycamore Den). Forks up!