Sweat Equity Built Brooklyn


DISH: By David Nelson Photography by Martin Mann

Sweat Equity Built Brooklyn

MIKE MCGEATH, the restaurant pro who gave us Fio’s and Trattroria Acqua, spent a recent Sunday playing Mike the Tile Guy. Although he employed a huge crew to build out Brooklyn Girl in Mission Hills, Mike’s pledge to host a fund-raiser on a specific date forced him to pour sweat equity in the town’s newest sizzler by personally slapping down tile. How’d he do? Check his handiwork along with chef Tyler Thrasher’s Brooklyn-inspired menu at 4033 Goldfinch Street, in a stylish new building that offers 50 validated indoor parking spaces for BG guests, definitely a novelty in this neighborhood.  

Explaining the name as “a little homage to the wife” (Victoria McGeath indeed hails from Brooklyn), Mike says the couple took Thrasher back to the borough in late 2011, spending 10 days eating at 30 restaurants (pass the Tums) to explore what many regard as the country’s hottest culinary scene.

“I love all the craft stuff they’re doing in Brooklyn,” says Mike. “We’re going to bring some of it to the restaurant. They’ve got gardens on the rooftops, you can see the vegetables coming down the walls. We’ll serve Breukelen gin, wines from Brooklyn Winery, Mast Brothers Chocolate, P & H Sodas and McClure pickles, which are the best in America.”  

The top import may be manager Mark Weber, who worked at a Michelin one-star restaurant named Dressler, and notes “They’re even raising chickens in Brooklyn backyards. It’s crazy.”


MISSION HILLS ALSO MAKES ITS mark with notable eateries like Trish Watlington’s The Red Door, where new chef Miguel Valdez dives daily for inspiration at Catalina Seafood. The fishmonger purveyed the local corvina and elegant (“delicious,” Valdez enthused endlessly) grouper collar he paired one evening with sweet-potato hash and crisply sautéed beet greens. The chef finished sautéed giant scallops with herb-rich chimichurri sauce and silken cauliflower puree, but is unafraid of butter, to which he ascribes “the flavor of love,” and lavishes on golden pork schnitzel studded with capers. Much of the produce served at this cozy corner bistro — the banquette-for-two is one of the town’s top tables — is grown in the restaurant’s Mount Helix garden, like the greens in an enchantingly beautiful salad with a memorable grapefruit vinaigrette.  Valdez likes show-stopping sweets, and pipes a magnolia-sized rosette of whipped cream atop a deep bowl of silky Belgian chocolate pot de crème. Down the hatch…     

TELL IT TO THE MARINES, or to Jack Me-cham, who served in the corps before trans–
ferring to restaurant duty at San Diego’s home-grown Donovan’s chain. An 11-year veteran of the deluxe steak and seafood houses, Meacham is the man to talk to when you want the lowdown on the caviars that adorn select dishes at Donovan’s Prime Seafood in the Gaslamp Quarter, where he may be the only maitre d’ worth the name in the restaurant-crammed district. A polished anachronism at a time in which the very concept of formality is slipping into oblivion, Meacham provides and supervises the polished, highly professional service that once was traditional but has virtually vanished… 


IN EAST VILLAGE, a line drive from Petco Park, Lucky’s Lunch Counter tucks a four-leaf clover into its logo but aims to please those who kvetch about the quality of kreplach (dumplings) at local delis. Lucky’s stacks hot pastrami and corned-beef sandwiches like those constructed at famous Jewish delis back east. The mish mosh soup — chicken, vegetables, a giant matzo ball and kreplach — satisfies, but is it entirely comfy sharing the menu with “Tyrone’s Midwest crispy pork tenderloin sandwich” (which frankly sounds sensational)… 


CHEFS RARELY SHARE SECRETS (and those who claim to do so are not always forthcoming), but Katherine Humphus of BO-beau Kitchen + Bar gladly shares products made in her kitchen, like an assortment of giardiniera-style pickled vegetables that go rather nicely with a simple sandwich, and thyme-seasoned honey blended with walnuts and orange that begs to nestle alongside cheese. In other days, top restaurants often packaged specialties; these can be bought at BO-beau…


TWO BOLD BAD BOYS heating up local kitchens: Scott Thomas Dolbee of Kitchen 1540 in the plush L’Auberge Del Mar, and Chad White of Gabardine, Brian Malarkey’s good-looking, charmingly relaxed new joint in Point Loma. Like so many nouvelle vague local chefs, both eagerly create plates with flavors that shoot off like fireworks. Unlike many, they do it with degrees of intelligence and good judgment (intuition may help) that produce spectacular results. Dolbee, who grew up in Encinitas but only surfed once (he intends to hit the waves again, he says), revels in creations like foie-gras pastrami, which costs $25 as an appetizer and offers a unique experience of buttery liver, warm spices, the sweetness of molasses and candied kumquat and the frank meatiness of fatty, savory, Tyrol-style bacon. White, who maintains part ownership in Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park, challenges Gabardine guests with live Point Loma sea urchin (he packs sea urchin into vanilla gelato too, along with “saffron bubbles”). His yellowtail crudo is a small plate of huge savors, and his shots at on-target, Portuguese dishes (the surrounding Roseville neighborhood once focused San Diego’s Portuguese community) always hit the bull’s-eye.

Categories: Food & Drink