"Like a Bergdorf Goodman lunch, a Parisian Champagne sunset...not a dump Denny's," that's Johnny Rivera discussing the soon-to-open Great Maple.
His new restaurant's soft opening is this Wednesday evening-the Great Maple dinner has elaborate-sounding $14 sandwiches like German-style bratwurst with sauerkraut and smashed potatoes on a pretzel bun.
There are salads (lardon and frisee; Fuyu persimmons), moule-frites, flatbreads with fennel sausage, Moroccan-spiced lamb burgers, truffle fries and more.
You'll find Great Maple on a concrete island at Washington St. and Cleveland Ave. - look for palm trees and lanky signage with Rat Pack-reminiscent gold baubles.
And what's under its A-frame ceiling, and on its patio, looks warmly desert-city retro (Eames-inspired chairs; a cyan blue that time traveled to the restaurant's walls; vintage Marshall amp covers; gold booths inside; banquettes with Redwood benches on a patio that says "1970s Palm Springs").
Rivera's calling his restaurant a "European dinette."
"It's more feminine than a diner."
What comes from Great Maple's kitchen rides the wave of in-season ingredients, baked in-house goods and free-range proteins that status restaurants flaunt. "Libations, seasonal plates, pie" is the restaurant's tagline.
Yes, there'll be morning pancakes (salted caramel; buttermilk; bacon chocolate; pork sausage wrapped in a flapjack). And the breakfast menu is touting unique ways to get your carbs: melted brie pots with cinnamon candied apples and grilled baguettes; maple-bacon doughnuts; English popovers with poached eggs, smoked brisket, asparagus and hollandaise; egg scrambles with oysters and bacon.
So you don't freak out there are waffles...with whipped cream, "farm butter" and maple syrup.
Lunch, which picks up this Thursday, looks like a bridge between the other two menus.
Rivera delivered his first Great Maple to Newport Beach, and says this new incarnation in Hillcrest is "like version 10" of that concept--improved upon, tweaked, expanded from lunch and dinner to include breakfast, and built on the ashes of two historic diners (Brians' American Eatery; Topsy's).
Read Keli Dailey's full story and more on utsandiego.com
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