Simon Dolinky Leaves Blvd 16 to Open SaltBox in San Diego

By
Chef Simon Dolinky Photo: SaltBox

Sorry L.A., but you didn't appreciate the seasonal stewardship of chef Simon Dolinky while you had him and now he's run off to San Diego. Dolinky helmed Blvd 16 at Westwood's Kimpton Palomar with a serious devotion to local product (growing herbs on the Kimpton's roof before the trend swept up the city) on a bright, minimal menu that flaunted natural essence, organic seafood and meats, responsible purveyors, and the chef's own resourceful imagination. After leaving Westwood about a month ago, the hyper-green chef opened a new gastropub last Friday called SaltBox Dining and Drinking at San Diego's Kimpton Palomar (until recently, The Se Hotel), with the help of former Pegu Club mix-master Erin Williams. What is this duo preparing down there?

While the cooking here is noticeably a higher octane comfort experience than what was served at Blvd 16, Dolinky is no less committed to his relationships with farmers and ranchers down south, adhering to his strict locavore principles. This finds his beef cheek tacos aided by a snap pea kim chi and his lobster corn dogs paired with a fresh ginger remoulade, while a dish of crispy asparagus with poached egg and paprika vinaigrette sound like the same strengths that had us falling for the ingredient-obsessed chef in the first place.

Williams, meanwhile has a whole handcrafted cocktail program designed for SaltBox (named, a rep tell us, for The Gaslamp District's old saltbox homes that once stood where the restaurant is) with drinks that include their own full share of fresh ingredients, as in "Off the Beet'n Path," which contains saffron-infused gin with beet brine, ginger, yuzu, elderflower syrup, Angostura bitters, and dainzu hibiscus salt, or a tropical punch with pineapple-infused Flor de Cana rum.

What results is a very green gastropub with two notable visionaries at the wheel. We'll miss having Dolinky so close to home, and hold out hope that San Diego doesn't sleep on this talented chef. Check out his first menu at SaltBox, below.

SaltBox, 1047 5th Ave. San Diego. 619-515-3003.

HOR D'OEUVRES

Flash Fried Shishito Pepper 4/8
Brown Butter and Lemon Popcorn 3/7
Roasted Mixed Nuts 5
House Cured Beef Jerky 5/8
Hand Cut French Fries 6/9
Warm Ham and Cheese Bites 5/9
Yukon Gold Potato Chips 5
add caviar 8
Castelvetrano Olives 4/7
Crazy Pickles 4/7
Brisket Sliders 6/10
Beef Cheek Tacos 11
Short Rib Grilled Cheese 9
Shrimp Ceviche Tacos 9/13
Lobster Corn Dogs 8/14

FARM & GARDEN
Chopped Lobster Cobb 7/14
Artichoke Caesar 5/10
White Corn Soup 7/11
Late Summer Vegetable Tempura 9
Tomato and Burrata 8
Grilled Kale Salad 9
Asparagus Salad 10
Potato Dumpling Gratin 8/15

MEAT & POULTRY
Oxtail Jam 11
Bacon Cappuccino 12
Barbequed Lamb Tamales 11
Slow Cooked Brandt Beef Short Rib 25
Steak Frites 26
Devils Chicken 18/24
Grande Hamburgesa 16

FISH
Bay Scallop Ceviche 8/12
Ahi Tuna Poke 9/13
Pan Seared Scallops 15/22
Spicy Seafood Cioppino 16/22
Whole Fried Bass “make your own taco style” 25

Flatbread of the day $12
Roasted Tomato & Burrata

Chorizo, Fingerling Potato, Blue Cheese