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Aug 20, 2011 10:15 AM

Blanca--Last Night Tonight

So sad. Word is spreading--only times available on Open Table as of 10 : 15 AM are 8:15 and later.

Hopefully, the reincarnation in San Diego will happen soon.

Thank you to Chef Gavin for a stellar, if all too brief, ride.

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  1. The UT implies he will be back in sort order with a new place.

    1. I was able to get in for the last service. I'll post a review next week or so. Kinda backed up on my review quotient at the moment

      1. Apparently the owners of Blanca decided not to reopen Blanca. Hopefully Gavin will stay in SD. Kitchen 1540 needs a new chef, Gavin needs a new job....

        4 Replies
        1. re: honkman

          That is a bit of a bummer. I was looking foward to them doing something in Mission Hills, which was kind of hinted at. I know he is doing a lot of pop up events at El Take It Easy.

          El Take It Easy
          3926 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

          1. re: mjill

            The next one is next Wednesday (10/26) again at El Take it Easy

          2. re: honkman

            Gavin and Kitchen 1540 would be wonderful..
            Wishing him all the best!

            1. re: Beach Chick

              Had a very..... interesting... experience at Kitchen 1540 last night.

              Suffice to say I don't think it's a good match as long as the Chef doesn't get control of the restaurant....

          3. “We are in a strip mall that was hard to find, with a Rubio’s and a California Pizza Kitchen.”

            “I live in North Park and love that feeling of community. We want to be part of a community.”

            Maybe he is moving to North Park?

            “The days of the $80 entrée are over. Blanca was an outrageously expensive restaurant and we want to be more approachable” (with a new concept that’s) “more organic, more rustic, not so sterile.”

            I wonder if he will do comfort food with a "gastropub" feel?

            Possibly a bunch of "craft beers"?

            Or a gourmet burger place?

            14 Replies
            1. re: stevewag23

              I just read your quotes Chef Gavin, and what he said really got me worked up. Blanca was hard to find? It is right on Coast Highway at the front of the mall. That shouldn't be too hard to find. Ohh there was a Rubio's in the mall. Umm the last time I drove down University there were plenty of fast food places for me to choose from. He wants to feel part of a community. SB DM and Encinitas are all great communities, maybe you should of integrated yourself into them instead of thinking that you can only succeed in North Park where the "cool" people live.

              1. re: littlestevie

                If you con't live in the north county or beach areas, Blance could be difficult to find. The first time I went I drove by it twice before I finally figured out where it was. Yes, it's at the front of the mall, and right on PCH, but their signage and front door faced south and was not easily visible, especially at night, or when traffic was heavy enough that you actually had to pay more attention to that than looking for a specific location

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  But is that really any different than places along Adams Ave. or 30th Street? Some of the restaurants and ones that are darlings of this board don't have the greatest signage. I don't live south of the 8 so I don't know the area super well, but I don't use that as an excuse not to go to a restaurant "I can't find it"

                  30th Street Cafe
                  San Diego, San Diego, CA 92104

                  1. re: littlestevie

                    Blanca isn't the first restaurant I've driven by more than once trying to find it :-D and it probably won't be the last. But I didn't interpret Gavin's comment to mean people were saying "I can't find it" as an excuse not to go, only that it wasn't the easiest place to find.

                    Adams Ave. I don't mind so much, nor even El Cajon Blvd. It's University that I'm not fond of because the street is narrow and I have to dodge the busses and pay attention to the people that are turning left because there are not dedicated left-hand turn lanes....and I've driven that street thousands of times!! I've missed stuff there too <lol>

                2. re: littlestevie

                  I wouldn't read too much into those quotes -- I think it's more like, they were serving food that was (IMO) at the top of San Diego's cuisine, and they weren't killing it, and rather than be like the last chef and say San Diegans are a bunch of jackasses who just want fish tacos, look at our business and say, what could we do differently to reach a big enough audience to make this kind of food sustainable in San Diego. Gavin was doing something really special, and I think we all want to think there's an audience for it in San Diego. Whatever he needs to tweak to make it work, I'm in favor of.

                3. re: stevewag23

                  I don't think you should take those quotes out of context. When they were planning to open part two, they said a lot of things about the old restaurant to start the media campaign a certain way.

                  The reality is that Blanca was actually very cheap for what was offered. Where else are you going to get a truffled cheese lamb burger with a side of fingerling potatoes for $12? The new place was supposed to feature more items like what was found on the bar menu for these sorts of reasonable prices.

                  1. re: karaethon

                    I'm with littlestevie on this one. The quotes are offered without any context, just a list of what looks like excuses. Sorry not buying that people can't find it or sharing a strip mall with fast food is a problem. The days of $80 entrees are over? What does that have to do with Blanca where there was nothing remotely close to an $80 entree? Wants to move to NP to be closer to where he lives; I get that, but I bet it's secondary to the idea that it will be easier to tap into the herd that rarely ventures beyond NP. No reason why his concept for the new restaurant couldn't work N coastal.

                    1. re: Island

                      I see where you are coming from, although "sharing a strip mall with fast food" can't help.

                      Hell, even being in a "strip mall" doesn't really help.

                      1. re: stevewag23

                        As littlestevie mentioned the streets of NP have their share of fast food joints. And less glamorous businesses. Actually the same can be said for downtown La Jolla which has it's share of cheesy T shirt and trinket shops. What's a small strip shopping area other than the same community businesses with more convenient parking. It's not like Blanca was between a Walmart and a Costco, but if he's after volume maybe he should consider it. :>)

                        I liked Blanca and I'm bummed they bailed from the area.

                        1. re: Island

                          I don't think that the area was the main reason. If you ask Gavin one of the main reasons was that Blanca still had the reputation of a very expensive because under Hageman the entrees started at $35. But the prices have changed a lot already under Neroni but many people didn't revognized it that Blanca was about as expensive as Cafe Chloe but with more inventive food. Their only way to change this perception was a fresh start/name

                          1. re: honkman

                            Or some decent marketing, which, IMHO they never did. I could be wrong, maybe I was not in their target marketing demo, but I never saw much to promote the changes in the restaurant - except for the loyal people on this board.

                            1. re: honkman

                              I don't think it was the main reason either and I agree with you and foodiechick, but why the BS? There is a lot of mention on this board about "The San Diego Hype Machine". Too much attention given to chefs and restos deemed undeserving of the hype. I don't count Gavin as one of those, but if given the opportunity to speak about it in the press be honest or shut up. I think most of us can read between the lines and came up with the same assumptions you, foodie and Jay mentioned which is my #1: "they weren't killing it" for whatever reason. Own it and move on without the BS excuses. That said I'm still looking forward to what comes next even though it will probably mean I'm driving to NP again!

                              1. re: Island

                                I don't think the process of analyzing what could have been more effective about a business equals excuses or BS. You might not agree with the answers they came to, but certainly I'm sure you want them to engage in the process. I can't see any good reason to discourage it.

                                The alternative, as I mentioned above, is what the previous chef there did, and just say San Diegans are too much hicks to appreciate this food. A sentiment that's easy to see someone arriving at, but one that I think this board would like to counter, if possible.

                  2. Sad to hear that Gavin won't stay in SD but heading back to SF - big loss for SD food community

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: honkman

                      very sad....wasn't he going to open up a restaurant closer to the Downtown area?

                      1. re: honkman


                        that really sucks. Was really hoping he would have something set up in central SD soon.
                        *edit* I don't see anything about him moving on his Facebook or Twitter pages, and he is doing some dinners down here in February. Hmm.

                        1. re: MrKrispy

                          I sent him a message through Twitter after hearing about his move and he confirmed. He will have some last dinners through Simple Supper and then start at a restaurant in SF which is not open yet

                          1. re: honkman

                            Is anyone on the board going to be attending the Simple Supper dinners?

                            1. re: shouzen

                              We were thinking about for some of their previous dinners but they are quite inflexible about the pricing if some don't want (or better can't) have the winepairing and a 5-course dinner for $130 without winepairing (as much as we we really like (and will miss) Gavin's cooking) is rather steep.

                              1. re: shouzen

                                Chef Gavin: It's hard to believe nobody snapped him up locally as either an Exec Chef or Chef /Partner. The word I get is he's going to SF to help open two new restaurants but is not necessarily going to be in the kitchen cooking. This leaves at least a glimmer of hope that he'd be free to return to SD if he was so inclined, which I'm not sure he is.

                                SimpleSupper: I made inquiry as well, thinking with that name maybe the tarriff would be "simple" too. Not so much. While maybe worth it for Gavin's cooking, ($150 p.p.) I'm always a little wary of the quality of the wine being offered at such events. Probably a pass.

                                1. re: mcgrath

                                  I was always hoping he would end up running Kitchen 1540 - it would have been a good match.