By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Joining a collective of 30-plus culinary tenants at Liberty Public Market is the upcoming Hold Fast, a fast-casual concept featuring sashimi and hand rolls by Chef Rob Ruiz, who also owns The Land & Water Company in Carlsbad.
Committed to ocean conservation, Ruiz is slated to becoming the first chef/restaurateur in San Diego to be officially certified by the James Beard Foundation for sustainable seafood practices. Hold Fast will use locally sourced seafood, California-grown organic rice, and organic produce area farmers. The venture is due to open in February. 2820 Historic Decatur Road, 619-487-9346, bluebridgehospitality.com.
Mission Hills has seen the much-anticipated arrival of Fort Oak, a restaurant specializing in wood-fired cooking by Trust Restaurant Group, which includes executive chef Brad Wise and general manager Steve Schwob.
The 3,400-square-foot venture opened Jan. 16 to a menu featuring seafood towers, rabbit sausage, aged rib eye, local duck and hearth-grilled branzino.
Anchored in Jonathan Segal’s new mixed-use building, The Fort, customers enter through an old Ford dealership facade and into an inviting bar and four distinct dining areas. The bar opens daily at 3 p.m., followed by dinner service starting at 5 p.m., and brunch is offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. 1011 Fort Stockton Drive, 619-722-3398, fortoaksd.com.
Old Town’s new mezcal-centric Tahona Bar will encroach on an existing storage space behind the bar to create a candle-filled speakeasy named Oculto 477. Co-owner Steven Sadri said it will open in late February or early March, and that design details are still in the works. He added that a door for customers to enter into the intimate confines has yet to be created. 2414 San Diego Ave., 619-255-2090, tahonabar.com.
After fulfilling a five-year lease in University Heights, chef Mike Almos will close Circa Restaurant next month. His last day of service is on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), when customers can savor a prix-fixe meal of three courses that are still in the planning.
Almos is concluding his run with the “California soul food” restaurant because of his involvement with a local culinary project that he can’t publicly discuss yet. In addition, “My wife and I are going to enjoy spending more time together,” he said.
In the lead-up to the Valentine’s Day dinner, Almos plans on holding customer-appreciation events at the restaurant, which he will post on the web site and Facebook once they are scheduled.
Operating the restaurant, he added, “has been lovely and hugely rewarding.” 2121 Adams Ave., 619-269-9152, circasd.com.
San Diego will likely become home to an establishment boasting the largest commercial whiskey collection in the world when reps from Guinness World Records conduct an inventory count at The Whiskey House, located just outside the Gaslamp Quarter.
Exceeding the collection of whiskeys at the Aero Club in Middletown, which offers several hundred labels, The Whiskey House greets customers with 2,800 choices from all over the globe. The tally by Guinness is scheduled to conclude Jan. 15.
Co-owner Alex Minaev and business partner, Ryan King, started out with a mere 200 bottles when they opened the bar/restaurant four years ago. Minaev attributes the growing trend in whiskey drinking to the massive collection, which includes Scotch whiskeys that are more than 40 years old.
Potential contenders for the world record are Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, D.C., and a hotel in Sweden. But unless they quickly beef up their commercial inventories and register them with the organization, The Whiskey House takes the title. 420 Third Ave., 619-546-6289, thewhiskeyhousesd.com.
Bakers Andrea Hazel Bender and Jade Warner have teamed up to open Hazel & Jade, a vegan bakery that launched this month in the address previously occupied by Bardo Lounge. Both women are vegan and worked the pastry industry for eight years before starting their company as wholesalers a year ago. This is their first retail venture.
The daily inventory features fresh croissants made with coconut oil-based butter, plus cakes, muffins, brownies, scones and more. The offerings also include coffee drinks using beans from Steady State roaster in Carlsbad. 3852 Fourth Ave., 619-295-2001, hazelandjade.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.