Let’s see, we have an owner who was raised in Del Mar as a surfer/snowboarder then gained some solid restaurant experience with a family who thought enough of his talents to back his venture, check. A head brewer with equal parts culinary and brewing experience recruited to head up the brewing operations, check. A San Diego-raised rising star chef who cut his culinary chops at some of San Diego’s best restaurants as executive chef, check. Add an amazing indoor/outdoor setting on a lagoon in Del Mar with simple yet stylish design, bonus check. And while nothing is ever guaranteed in the restaurant business, that checklist and the execution I experienced provide a solid foundation for success.
That team would be founder Charles Koll, Head Brewer Moe Katomski and Executive Chef Gunnar Plantar. The location is pretty freaking cool in an area that is full of cool locations. It feels like light industrial manufacturing from the front, albeit a Del Mar one so it’s not going to be that gritty. Yet once you walk in and see the open, panoramic views of the lagoon, the Del Mar fairgrounds and the freeway in the distance, it’s like nothing else in the area.
An attractive crowd fills the space with many with dogs in tow, as they are encouraged to do, hanging out at a variety of seating options. The sun was setting as we walked in, which provided maximum venue impact. And honestly, as good as the photo is attached to this column, it does not do justice to the location and the view.
Let’s start with Charles Koll. The 7,000-square-foot brewery and restaurant has several family members and friends involved. The sleek yet inviting warehouse space was designed by his sister-in-law, and his dad and other family members and friends were among its backers and builders. After some time teaching snowboarding in Colorado, Koll did a stint in San Francisco where he worked in the kitchen at neighborhood tavern The Monk’s Kettle before returning home to San Diego.
He spent time in the kitchen at Mille Fleurs and later at Prepkitchen Del Mar, part of local restaurant group Whisknladle Hospitality’s portfolio. Through this work experience, he found himself engaging with experienced professionals and gaining a deeper understanding of restaurant operations, turning his attention from creativity in the kitchen turning out dishes to creativity in business.
He also dabbled in home brewing and the idea of opening his own brewery and restaurant in his adopted hometown was top of mind. As luck would have it, he drove by the now home of Viewpoint Brewing Co., then the studio of potter John Laver, and saw a for rent sign and that’s when the dream started to take shape.
Putting a seasonal restaurant spin on gastro pub fare at ViewPoint is Executive Chef Gunnar Plantars whose menu is meant to pair with its house beer, made by Koll and head brewer Moe Katomski including the malty Red Rye IPA and the French farmhouse-style Smash Saison.
As it turns out, Gunnar attended the culinary program at the Art Institute San Diego campus where one of his instructors was Chef Michael Zonfrilli, now the proprietor of Bambucha Kombucha. Gunnar recalled him as tough but fair and quick to recognize and nurture talent, which he appreciated. That education plus stints at Mille Fleurs, The University Club and The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe prepared Chef Plantar perfectly to put his mark on a place like ViewPoint.
We sampled several dishes starting with his Chefs Crudo, which is now on my list of favorites. It has a fresh local catch with mango ribbon, oro-blanco, grapefruit, avocado, and leche de tigre and it’s fabulous. A light, refreshing way to start a meal. The charred broccoli was another healthy starter then we moved on to the more indulgent side of the menu.
Mary’s Chicken Schnitzel was calling my name and well, it did not disappoint. Super crunchy on the outside with a thin chicken cutlet, pea tendril salad and buerr beer and yeah this was really good. The Naan Mi was another inventive and tasty treat with curry fried chicken, quick pickle, spicy aioli tucked in a homemade naan. This dish I will be back for.
As I mentioned they have the beer thing covered as well with Head Brewer Mo Katomski. A Bakersfield, California native, Katomski played college soccer in Los Angeles where he discovered culinary arts and home brewing. San Diego was next, working his way toward a degree at MiraCosta College and furthering his culinary knowledge at Q’ero in Encinitas and as a personal chef.
Vista’s Bear Roots Brewing Company was next, where his desire to take brewing to another level grew. That’s where the good timing thing happened as Charles Koll was looking for someone to head up his brewing operations and here we are. He is known for his IPAs, Belgians and Dark Ales and works closely with the kitchen on creating beers that pair nicely with the menu.
Check out ViewPoint Brewing Co. at 2201 San Dieguito Drive in Del Mar. Call (858) 356-9346 or visit www.viewpointbrewing.com.
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Coast News Lick the Plate columnist David Boylan is celebrating 10 years and 500 columns with the Coast News in 2019! His feature covers the ever expanding North County culinary scene that includes restaurants, culinary personalities, trends, observations, tributes and his popular takeover column where area businesses, bands or teams contribute to the column. Lick the Plate has also been a popular radio show for the past eight years in San Diego on 100.7 KFMB, and on stations in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the column and radio show, David runs Tatonka Digital & Analog, a boutique marketing agency headquartered in Oceanside, California. Reach him with show suggestions at email@example.com or www.lick-the-plate.com