The Coast News Group
Lick the Plate

A farmer in the kitchen at Bistro West

There is a restaurant revival making its way through San Diego County, riding on the crest of more premium wine lists and the call for “Farm to Table” produce, arriving at your plate with same day freshness.

That statement takes on new meaning at Bistro West, the comfortable, yet dynamic dining favorite in Carlsbad, part of the West Village, with its West Inn & Suites and West Steak and Seafood.

Several years ago, West farm, a 3-acre produce-growing piece of paradise, was added to the West family, just a few miles from the restaurant. Executive Chef Jeff Campagna has over 30 years in the restaurant business and is known for his creativity and innovation with new plates, customized from French, Asian, Italian and Californian influences.  He has recently joined Bistro West.

“Having your own farm is a dream come true for a chef,” said Campagna.  “To be able to work directly at a farm, influence the harvest and create dishes made from scratch is a rare opportunity. Early in the morning, we pick from six varieties of lettuce, baby carrots, beets, kale, brussel sprouts, asparagus, peppers, zucchini and zucchini flowers.

“We are planting trees, and we’re picking avocado, plum, fig, lemon lime, orange and pear,” he said.

The menu at Bistro West is a wonderland of creativity and the choices are just about limitless.  You need to see it and taste it to believe it.  Campagna is as close to an artist in his menu creations as I have experienced.

In reviewing the Bistro West wine list, one thing that struck me was the household names on it that most wine lovers know and buy for their dinners and parties.  And most names were under $50 a bottle.  Every Monday, with no exceptions, all bottles of wine are half price.

As I have revealed in past columns, 2012 was a heaven-sent year for California wines and I was happy to see that most West Coast wines on the list were indeed 2012 harvested.

My favorite for flavor and price was the 2012 La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast.  This is from the Jackson Family of wines that seek only the best vineyards for their brands.  Inhale red cherry, spice and coffee aromas that set up the palate for delicious fruit flavors.

Bistro West is celebrating the holidays with a generous gift for guests who purchase a $100 gift card now through Dec. 31. Receive a $20 bonus card, with each  $100 gift card purchase. This no-expiration gift card is redeemable at both Bistro West and West Steak and Seafood.  Call for details on this promotion or a table reservation at (760) 930-8008.


National restaurant & wine sales up

As an article in the last Wine Spectator proclaimed: “fine dining and wine go hand in hand, and both restaurant sales and premium wines are turning the corner and heading back up the second half of 2014.”

The magazine points to numbers from the National Restaurant Association which is projecting sales for 2014 to be 16 percent higher than it was in 2010.  This is proof that it’s not so much bigger numbers of diners and wine consumers, but that those that eat out are spending more for the experience.

Corporate business is doing much better for the restaurants that cater to such diners. “They are taking the brakes off and spending on unfamiliar wine names, and even seem more excited to spend money,” the magazine pointed out.  See for more.


Wine Bytes

Bijou French Bistro in La Jolla presents a three to five course prix fixe menus for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, served from 5:30 to 10 p.m.  Christmas Eve is $85. The New Year’s Eve event is $105.  For reservations, call (858) 750-3695.

Marina Kitchen in San Diego has delicious tastes for the season Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 with festive buffet favorites.  Available 5 to 9 p.m., it includes Brandt Beef Prime Rib and Roasted Dijouri Chicken, fresh fish and greens.  Price is $48; $12.99 for children.  For reservations, call (619) 312-1212.

Enjoy the holidays at Vineyard Rose Restaurant, South Coast Winery in Temecula. Starts Dec. 24 at 5:30 p.m. and ends Dec. 25 at 9 p.m.  Choice of entrée $40 to $45. Call (951) 491-8077.

Plumpjack Winery is tasted at Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido Dec. 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. $15.  Call to reserve at (760) 745-1200.

North County Wine Company presents a very special wine tasting, Dec. 19 and Dec. 20, titled “the Tobin Twenty.”  The Tobin brothers promise a memorable night of wine tasting.  Call (760) 653-9032.


Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.  He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web.  View and link up with his columns at  Reach him at [email protected], and follow him on Facebook.