The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list has long been a bible to those concerned with the progressive excommunication of certain species from the face—and underbelly—of the Earth. Carry the pocket guide, available for free on the organization's website (montereybayaquarium.org), and you'll prevent a nasty episode whereby someone like me scowls at you as you slip a piece of endangered marlin in your mouth.
Last week, Whole Foods, in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute, announced a new color-coded rating system for all wild-caught seafood. Green means “best choice,” yellow is a “good alternative” and red equates to slaughtering a seal. Some say it's a propaganda program designed to make nice with Guyana, Bolivia, Ghana, Lithuania and Sao Tome and Principe, all of which sport those colors on their respective flags. Others recognize it as a step towards sustainability and a way to diminish overfishing. The higher-ups at Whole Foods promise to eliminate all red-list seafood from their stores by Earth Day 2013.
Matt Gordon, executive chef and owner of North Park's Urban Solace, has never been much for Restaurant Week, taking place through Friday, Sept. 24. In its stead, he's embarked on Seafood Week, previewing seafood dishes, like lobster pot pie, that may make the cut for his soon-to-open Solace and the Moonlight Lounge in Encinitas. The guy enjoyed a stint as a fisherman in Alaska; he's legit. And so are the $1.50 oysters. urbansolace.net
Ritual tavern (4095 30th St. in North Park) opens early this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 25 and 26, handpumping locally brewed AleSmith Evil Dead Red from noon to close at $5 a pint. Add a little jerk-grilled Mary's Free-Range Chicken or sustainably raised Niman Ranch Skirt Steak, rice and beans for $6 and you've got yourself a meal.
Temecula's Winchester Cheese (32605 Holland Road, winchester cheese.com) is the new black. The folks that run it source their milk from a local dairy and employee age-old cheese-making techniques, creating thousands of wheels of gouda (actually pronounced how-dah, but we Americans bastardized it) each week. They quality-test each batch (not a bad gig) and hand-package each chunk. For you, free tours and tastings seven days a week.
And, since we were on the topic of fish (though, in this case, not necessarily sustainable), Harney Sushi (301 Mission Ave. in Oceanside) is celebrating two years with $2 specials through Sunday, Sept. 26. Think California han droll, half-order spicy tuna roll or smoked tofu with house-made kimchee, two-piece chocolate gyoza and a small hot sake. Ten bucks for all of that and a walk to Red Cup Yogurt (301 Mission Ave., Suite 301) to cap off the evening. What more do you want?
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Searsucker. 611 Fifth Ave., Downtown, seersucker.com. The new Gaslamp restaurant from Top Chef Brian Malarkey is doing a lot of things right with its “New American Classic” cuisine, but the menu is excessive in its foodie inside jokes, and many of the items seem to have one ingredient too many.
O'Bistro. 4934 Voltaire St., Ocean Beach, obistrocafe.com. O'Bistro doesn't try to be more than what it is: a chill neighborhood spot in a chill 'hood serving up solid, tasty fare on a cozy, expansive out door patio. Yes, there's indoor seating, but the patio's where it's at. Chiba Japanese Cuisine. 10435 San Diego Mission Road, Mission Valley. This sushi restaurant in a nondescript Mission Valley strip mall is a local favorite, serving creative takes on traditional fare. Standouts includes the “baked volcano,” Las Vegas roll and Mission roll.