Pop Goes the Meal

Chef Dan Moody, the mastermind behind Relate pop up restaurant, at work behind the scenes.

Pop up restaurants are here today and gone tomorrow. That’s because these eateries are designed for a limited run that allows chefs to flex their creative muscles and push the culinary envelope.

Did you see last week’s ‘restaurant wars’ episode of Top Chef All Stars?  The cheftestants were challenged to create a pop-up restaurant and the guest judge was none other than Ludo Lefebvre. He’s the trendsetting chef behind LA’s famous Ludo Bites pop-up restaurants.

Now, San Diego is getting it’s first-ever pop up with Relate opening for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays February 3-26 at Bistro St. Germain’s in Encinitas. When the popular breakfast/lunch spot closes each afternoon, Chef Dan Moody will take the reins and the restaurant will undergo a complete transformation – with new art on the walls, different table settings and music to set the mood – becoming a fine dining experience for dinner service.

Moody earned his pop-up stripes serving as sous chef for Lefebvre at Ludo Bites so he’s no stranger to the challenge.  I caught up with the chef and asked him why he chose to launch this pop up in San Diego.

He said “My parents moved to San Diego my senior year of high school, and I graduated from Torrey Pines High School. While I didn’t grow up in San Diego, I’ve considered it home since my family moved 13 years ago. I felt more at home in San Diego than I ever did in the LA area, even though that is where I spent the majority of my childhood years. I love San Diego, it’s a great city with great people. Of course, the most important people to me are in San Diego: my immediate family. With a great support network in one of the country’s finest cities…why not San Diego?”

He went on to say “I think San Diego is due for something like this in the dining scene. Many of the comments from the online reservations are not comments about food preferences or dining needs, but words of encouragement and thanks for doing this in San Diego. Comments like that just help to confirm my suspicions that the San Diego market is ready for a pop-up concept.”

Think you are ready to check it out for yourself?

Moody is developing a menu for Relate that will weave contemporary French with down-home American cuisine in dishes like roasted baby beet salad with yam and Rainier cherry puree, shaved baby fennel, citrus, cinnamon and lavender; butter poached lobster, leeks, tarragon lobster oil, onion froth, beet chip and fennel jam; and spiced beef with spinach-avocado puree, crispy truffle spaetzle and Guinness gastrique.

Diners who pop in can enjoy a prix fixe menu that changes from day to day and is priced around $50 per person. Wine and craft beer pairings will be available as well.

Since Relate will only be open for 3 weeks, if you want to sample this culinary trend, you need to hustle and make reservations as they are sure to fill up quickly.  To secure your seats at the table, visit www.relaterestaurant.com or call 858-367-3709.

For more San Diego dining dish, follow Kate on Twitter @katebuska.

This entry was posted in Culinary, Insider Tips, San Diego Events and tagged , , by Kate. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kate

I own, and use, a library card, a record player, a sewing machine and a meat smoker.  Ride my bicycle every day and will, sometimes, wear my roller skates in the house. Have a wealth of useless knowledge – for which you will be thankful when we’re teamed up in Trivial Pursuit.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego day?

Hike through the spring wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Watch the July 4th fireworks over San Diego Bay. Eat Julian Apple Pie a la mode and check out the autumn leaves. Ice skate and enjoy the twinkling holiday decorations at the Hotel del Coronado. All in the same day.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to be able to stop and restart time like that Twilight Zone episode back in the 80’s, “A Little Peace And Quiet,” but, you know, without the a-bomb at the end. Basically, I just want to avoid waiting in lines.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Brunch, without a doubt. Also, cocktails by the pool, outdoor movies in Balboa Park, scouring the swap meet for vintage finds, hanging out on the patio at the Casbah between sets, lawn games and backyard barbecues.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Give me uni plucked from the sea by local divers, a warm, crusty loaf from Bread & Cie, luscious Carlsbad strawberries, sweet local lobster in season and creamy Fallbrook avocados. And, most definitely, a grass-fed beef burger with Winchester gouda and a cold San Diego craft brew.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…

Honestly, I buy my records at the thrift store and depend on my husband to download new music. Lately he's been stacking the deck pretty heavy with 90's indie rock, bluegrass covers and drone metal.  Go figure.

For more San Diego dining dish, follow Kate on Twitter @katebuska.

5 thoughts on “Pop Goes the Meal

  1. was good, but also disappointed. mainly, the dishes were not hot enough! they seemed to sit in the window too long, thus it being a luke-warm plate. my friend and I also asked to have Chef Moody sign our menus, which the server had him do. however, it would have been more appropriate for Chef moody to come to us directly and return our signed menus and thank us for making a long journey to enjoy his pop-up undertaking. disappointing. also, there should be NO children (toddlers, for example)at such an affair! we paid good money for the experience, not to be harrassed by misbehaving children and clueless parents!!!

  2. great way to test put a new & fickle market, try out new ideas & palettes and make it fun and exciting for regulars….yeah for creative foodplay!

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