By Karen Billing
Since opening in July, Del Mar Highlands’ Searsucker has taken big efforts to introduce itself to the community as a brighter, simpler, less-cluttered, quieter, more family-friendly eatery than its predecessor Burlap.
Both Searsucker and the former Burlap are members of the Enlightened Hospitality Group, headed up by James Brennan and Chef Brian Malarkey. The first Searsucker opened downtown in 2010 and has been brought to Scottsdale, Ariz. and Austin, Texas — and now Carmel Valley. The group also runs Herringbone in La Jolla, and is set to open its second location in Los Angeles’ Mondrian Hotel on New Years Eve.
Manager Nick Baker said the new Searsucker caters more toward the surrounding neighborhood.
“Burlap became more and more of a bar scene. The restaurant still has a lively bar scene but as Carmel Valley has lots of families, we wanted it to be a place people feel comfortable coming with kids. We feel this is better for the community,” Baker said.
The restaurant now features a kids’ menu and offers children the opportunity to feed the fish in the koi pond on the outside patio, one of the few holdovers from Burlap.
With Burlap, a long communal bar table was centrally located and perhaps too effectively blended the bar into the restaurant — Baker said people let the management know it was often too loud to enjoy a meal. The long tables have now moved to the separate bar area and if there is live music or deejays they stay in the bar as well, keeping the dining room as a place where people can eat and visit in a quieter, although still lively environment.
The 6,000-square-foot restaurant offers several different experiences, Baker said, with the main dining room, a quieter private dining room, the bar area and the outdoor patio. The surfaces of the bar remain pre-set with utensils, to further promote that return to a focus on food.
Outside they also added the much-requested booth spaces (they never had booths in Burlap) and an expanded fire pit area with ample places for people to sit and eat around it.
Where Burlap tended to be darker, Searsucker has brightened the place up. The windows in the front have been opened up and a skylight was added to the bar area, filling the restaurant with natural light.
The wall to the kitchen remains open with windows as with all of Malarkey’s restaurants. The star of Searsucker kitchen’s show is Chef de Cuisine Andrew “Dizzle” Phillips. Phillips started as a line cook at the first Searsucker in downtown San Diego and has worked his way up the ranks.
While Searsucker’s menu is similar to the downtown location’s, Phillips has put his own spin on a few items. There’s plenty of salad options, “sandos” for lunch, bottomless mimosas at brunch, and dinner entrees from “the ocean, ranch and farm.” The restaurant also serves up Suja Juice, a popular line of organic, cold-pressed juices developed in San Diego by Brennan, Eric Ethans and Nika Water’s Jeffrey Church.
Searsucker is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner Sunday through Wednesday from 5-10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday until 11 p.m. Small bites are open from 11 p.m. to close. Sunday’s brunch is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit searsucker.com/del-mar or call (858) 369-5700.