For a quick drive to a festive and scenic part of California, I recommend San Diego. There are many quality places to stay while visiting. This time I wanted to go for something a little out of the ordinary… chic and unique. I found it and more when I walked into The Keating Hotel. The Keating is a premiere luxury boutique hotel featuring the fun Brick + Mortar restaurant. The hotel’s location is perfect in the midst of the Gaslamp Quarter as you can walk to the Convention Center or the newly opened Pussycat Doll club which is right around the corner. The hotel is surrounded by restaurants of all kinds as well as bars and clubs to visit.
This intimate hotel is the world’s first to be exclusively designed by Italian auto design house Pininfarina, the mastery behind Ferrari and Maserati. The clean lines and ergonomic design is inviting.
Walking into the Keating, I found its minimalistic red entry hall charming. They serve mom’s made homemade cookies and chilled water filled with berries to guests. What a nice way to begin!
My suite reminded me of a SoHo loft with brick walls, vaulted ceilings and large windows. The crowd bustling outside has a stimulating effect. The furniture was cool and the tub is designed like the back of a Ferrari with a mirror the length of the tub. Some rooms have showers with mirrors above them. Each suite has the finest amenities including a LaVazza coffee machine where guests can make their own espresso or cappuccino. The king sized bed was between two pullout closets presenting an extremely stylish and pleasant atmosphere. The suite had a shower that was reminiscent of a fashionable car wash with its details and openness and it also featured a separate bathroom for privacy. Once I surveyed the room, I was torn between a nap and taking to the streets. I chose a tour of the hotel.
The hotel was built in 1890. It has been many things throughout the years including a bank. The most recent renovation is something to be seen; experiencing it is a treat. The dark red and gray colors are featured with fine line precision next to old world ambiance.
Miniature vintage Ferrari’s are placed on each floor.
During our tour I ran into the founder and creator of The Pussycat Dolls, Robin Antin. The recently opened Pussycat Doll club in the Gaslight District is in the same building as the Keating Hotel, just around the corner. I asked Robin about the new club which is the only sister club of the Pussycat Doll club in Las Vegas.
“I like San Diego, and love the Gaslight District with the history and having the Pussycat Dolls there. The Gaslight district inspired burlesque at that historic time, such as Vegas inspired by the 1950’s. Going back to the day is intriguing to me. It is about female empowerment. Here in San Diego, I was looking for fresh, natural beach type girls. I like pulling in girls of that type for the PCD, it creates a vibe that any woman can do it and anyone can relate to it in San Diego. I am very happy to be put into The Keating Hotel. I love the style and feeling. It almost feels like Europe, somewhere like the south of France. The Keating feels very international. I am blown away and it is one of my favorite destinations, I want to be there!”
As we continued the hotel tour, we entered a room that has a sauna and Jacuzzi in it. Each suite and room has its own character and sophistication. The intimate spa room is perfect for facials and massages. I had a lovely experience and enjoyed a deep tissue massage without the typical watching of the clock that happens at many hotels. The treatment was about service and quality. A small room features work out equipment. The Keating provides passes to gyms for those who are looking for classes and a full throttle workout.
An extension of the hotel’s Pininfarina-inspired décor, Brick + Mortar is a two-story restaurant around the corner. Upstairs is the glass detailed wine cellar and an adjoining room for private dinners and business events. It is a perfect setting overlooking the restaurant. The continuation of open brick compliments the restaurant’s orange Carnelian gemstone bar. The feeling is open and the bar is friendly.
The weather was so great that we decided to sit out on the patio, which was perfect. In addition to the fantastic weather, we found the service to be impeccable. The staff obviously enjoys being there and taking care of the guests with a giant smile on their faces.
Brick + Mortar created a menu with a wide variety of appetizers providing the opportunity to share plates. We chose the Lump Crab Cake with Imperial Sauce and Citrus Salad for an appetizer. The Crab Cake was filled with crab; lumps of it, not filler. With appetizers ranging from Tuna Tartar to Charcuterie to Mussels to Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Lardoons and Balsamic Honey, the menu is creative as well as tasty. We also tried their specialty drinks. I recommend their Margarita with infused tequila. It has a nice little kick to it!
Their list of pizzas is artistic and delicious. Selections include Mushroom with Crème Fraiche and Mozzarella; Mashed Potatoes with Bacon and Sour Cream; Short Ribs with Tomato Sauce, Blue Cheese and Arugula; Ham and Pineapple with Smoked Jalapeños and Mozzarella. I could eat their pizza for days! It was wonderfully flavorful with a fantastic crust.
Their dinner menu has everything you could want. Be it Fish and Chips, Sea Bass, Vegetable Risotto or Shepherd Pie made with Lamb, Brick + Mortar takes care of every type of palette. I had the chicken and waffles. The chicken had great flavor and the batter was light. I prefer my crust to be crispier, but the waffles melted in your mouth. The Sea Bass En Papillot with Sautéed Market Vegetables was cooked flawlessly and tasted lovely.
Brick + Mortar takes pride in their fresh, seasonal, quality products. The food is vibrant and flavorful and they feature daily culinary specials. If you want to host a party with a large bar area and creative, tasty food, Brick + Mortar is your place. Happy Hour is Monday –Friday from 9 am -7 pm. Yes, 9 am ladies and gentlemen, so grab a seat.
Brick + Mortar restaurant
Chef Aaron Lamont
Corporate Executive Chef Laurent Saussy
GM Tom Dudick