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Chef Daniel Barron heads new concept in the Gaslamp

By Troy Johnson | Photography by Paul Body

Daniel Barron has landed again. One of my favorite wildcard chefs in San Diego, Barron’s a creative type whose had trouble finding the right home. Think of him like that exciting, hyper gymnast who’s either going to get a perfect ten or break the gym. That is to say, it won’t be boring. The Cohn Group wasn’t the right fit (Barron headed Blue Pointe). Neither was La Valencia. But now he’s heading up the Gaslamp’s new concept, Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen.

Taking over the 7,000 square-foot space on the corner of 6th and Island Streets (formerly home to Wet Willie’s), Blush is a concept that originated in San Jose from restaurateurs Taylor Kim and Russ Fukushima. The namesake and inspiration is the “blush” cocktail—a craft cocktail base topped with a dash of frosted, fruity ice.

Barron’s menu is Asian meets American. On the Asian side they’ll have an 18-seat raw bar and oyster lounge. During happy hour, the oysters will be one single dollar. There will be small plates like Humboldt fog and blue crab-stuffed mushrooms, crispy miso pork belly, Jidori chicken wings and foie gras ramen (!). They’ll also do sammies (a Korean short rib burger, southern fried chicken stack, pork belly BLT, yellowfin sliders). And the mains section is huge with beef & pork (guajillo short rib, char siu pork), poultry & game (chicken claypot, lamb rib chops in bacon-ramen jus), and seafood (char siu Chilean sea bass, whole roasted garlic Dungeness crab).

Like we said, Barron’s ambitious. And so the kitchen will be dry-aging and smoking their own meats in-house, as well as fermenting their own kimchi, miso and yuzukoshu (fermented pepper-citrus paste).

For atmosphere, they turned to San Diego’s Point of Departure Architecture. It’s a light, modern-and-clean place, with roll-up garage doors, glass, metal, white marble and wood. I could sit and talk about it all day, or you could take a look at the first pictures in the known universe in the gallery below.

Blush Ice Bar + East-West Kitchen will be open for lunch and dinner starting July 30.


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