Tracy Borkum, leader of Urban Kitchen Group (CUCINA urbana, CUCINA enoteca, Artifact) and chef partner Tim Kolanko, helped fill a gap in San Diego’s Jewish-inspired culinary options while drawing on her ancestral roots and opened up Doors to Gold Finch, a contemporary deli and full service restaurant, on September 21st at 3040 Science Park Road in Torrey Pines.
Gold Finch’s debut coincides with a recent post-pandemic resurgence in Jewish delis and restaurants across the country. An article published by The New York Times reported that in the 1930s there were “an estimated 3,000 such delicatessens in New York City.
Today, according to the New York Historical Society, there are only a few dozen.” Now, Gold Finch joins a new lineup of restaurants that translate Jewish culinary traditions through a modern lens, like Mile End Delicatessen in Brooklyn, NYC, Call Your Mother in Washington DC and even the vegan-friendly Ben & Esther’s in Portland, Oregon.
“This has been a long-awaited passion project and I’m excited to share our take on what a modern deli in a great city can be. There aren’t many Jewish delicacies in San Diego, you can count them on one hand,” says Borkum. “Historically, Jewish delis were the cornerstone of the neighborhood and they represented a sense of identity for people, a sense of home. With Stieglitz, I wanted to give that culture, that tradition, a little more meaning and share some of my favorite childhood memories with food.”
Rooted in immigrant Jewish culture and cuisine, Gold Finch focuses on re-contextualizing staples of Ashkenazi and Sephardic cuisine. Employing the same level of rigor and slow-food ethos as Urban Kitchen Group’s other Tracy brands, the culinary program is led by chef partner Tim Kolanko, along with chefs Jeff Armstrong and Frankie Becerra.
An extensive menu offers a glossary of Jewish terms and descriptors to help diners make their choices, and the standout dishes range from variations on traditional baked goods to a wide variety of sandwiches — all with healthy, seasonal, and in some cases Mexican ingredients as a nod to Baja’s regional influences.
Splittable towers invite you to build your own spreads, with homemade bagels and bialys decorated with salmon, cured meats, or smoked fish, and a quick-serve deli counter offers more than a dozen a la carte nosh dishes, including trout rillete , pickled herring, smoked white fish, chicken liver pâté and pastrami.
Below are some notable highlights and team favorites from the menu:
rise + shine
A collection of dishes with a focus on eggs alongside updated Jewish favorites like shashuka with poached egg, tomatillo, spinach, and za’atar served with homemade nine-grain toast, a stuffed giant latke with fried egg, mushrooms, broccoli, horseradish, and Labneh or a shredded challah french toast with blueberry, blackberry, lemon cream and maple syrup.
Selection of homemade baked goods including Bialys (red onion/poppy seed, brie/bacon, fig/goat cheese), Knish (mushroom/goat cheese, pastrami beets, spinach/feta/tomato) and rosewater cardamom baklava.
It’s a tradition
Borkum’s grandmother’s popular recipe for Matzo Kugelsoup joins other staples like roasted artichoke with berbere spice and sumac aioli, chicken schnitzel with artichoke, tomato, arugula and lemon-caper vinaigrette, in addition to a seasonal mushroom noodle kugel .
Nine stacked-tall creations include pastrami, BBQ pastrami or hand-carved corned beef on rye, but also Italian-inspired sandwiches like mortadella/coppa/prosciutto cotto muffeletta with provolone, giardiniera relish, basil and house aioli on focaccia or roast pork with broccoli and smoked provolone on ciabatta.
Short + sweet
As a nod to her boy’s specialty, Tracy encourages the banana donuts with cinnamon sugar, halwa ice cream, and toffee coffee syrup, the arborio rice pudding with mango, passion fruit, pistachio, and candied lemon, or the ricotta blintz with apple, blueberry, and crème fraîche.
Serving retro soda fountain favorites like chocolate phosphate and seasonal pumpkin egg custard, along with a selection of wine and beer, dark horse coffee, Paru teas and smoothies.
Taking a page from Tracy’s hometown and London’s Jewish epicentres, Golders Green and Finchley, after which the restaurant is named, Gold Finch opened as the culinary anchor of Muse, a new LEED and WELL-certified life sciences Class A campus in Torrey Pines /La Jolla – specifically home to San Diego’s largest Jewish community.
The 1,800 square foot space with full-service indoor and outdoor seating was artfully designed by Borkum to reflect a lighter, more modern deli vibe. Traditional Jewish delis of yore were decidedly masculine places, often named after Frankles, Bens, Levis – and, lest we forget, their sons and brothers. Tracy reflected on what being a woman meant to own a modern day Jewish deli and how this might develop the stereotype of a traditional deli environment.
She designed the space with the intention of creating “lightness” by incorporating a neutral palette of white stone, natural white oak, organic wallpaper and light fixtures and furniture in soft gray tones. A hybrid marketplace offers Jewish cookbooks, specialties, and decorative items, offering guests a little shopping therapy while dining on-site.
Tracy Borkum is widely regarded as one of Southern California’s most respected restaurateurs. Having formed Urban Kitchen Group (UKG) in 1995, their collective is credited with helping to pave the way for the emerging advancement in the hospitality industry in Pave San Diego and Orange County. , CUCINA enoteca and full-service industry leader Urban Kitchen Catering.
Within the last 12 months, the UKG collective has doubled in size with major projects across San Diego, including the Urban Kitchen food pavilion and marketplace at The Rady Shell in Jacobs Park, ARTIFACT and CRAFT Café at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, a recently acquired catering facility and a coffee shop, and an upcoming restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Partner chef Tim Kolanko is a force in San Diego’s slow food movement. Tim has over 30 years of experience working with industry innovators like legendary James Beard Award recipient Stuart Brioza and James Beard nominee Charles Dale before making a name for himself in San Diego on notable concepts like AR Valentien im The Lodge at Torrey Pines (“Top Ten Farm to Table Restaurants in the US” by Epicurious and “America’s Top Restaurant” by Zagat), Coronado’s Stake Chophouse + Bar and San Diego’s premiere Public Market of Liberty. In addition to his partnership at Gold Finch, Tim is Executive Chef of Tracy’s Urban Kitchen Group.
See you there!
Gold Finch is located at 3040 Science Park Road and is currently open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm all day for breakfast and lunch. A weekend brunch will be introduced soon. Gold Finch also offers full service catering and delivery.
For more information, please visit here or call 858.866.9965. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook.
See you there, San Diego!