San Diego-based outfit Archisects has transformed a 1920s stucco-box of a building, most recently a nightclub in the city’s University Heights, into a lively, head-turning Mediterranean restaurant. While the facade blends in with the neighbourhood’s Victorian storefronts and Californian bungalows, the interior of the long domed room takes its cues from Japanese and Norwegian mores.
Which is to say: expansive swathes of cedar and Douglas fir that are offset by in-laid geometric wall panels, alcoved banquettes painted an intense blue, a white-stringed web installation created by Archisects, and soft lighting by way of chandeliers and retro fixtures by Schoolhouse Electric and Jonathan Adler.
In the kitchen, the northern Italian executive chef Mario Cassineri refreshes traditional Mediterranean recipes with southern Californian ingredients, sending out crowd-pleasers like a roasted baby beet salad spiked with asparagus, lentils and warm burrata; salmon skewers; and, of all things, a macaroni and cheese, here re-engineered with thinly sliced potato, crab and crispy onion rings.
The best seat in the house is the patio table near the hostess stand which features a sight-line of the bar, the length of the cedar arch and, all the way through the bougainvillea arbor at the back patio, a glimpse of the Southern Californian night sky.