The long-awaited emergence of the Liberty Public Market, one of San Diego's most ambitious food-centric projects to date, in finally in sight. As of this writing, Blue Bridge Hospitality, the local restaurant group orchestrating the epic food hall, plans to soft launch the market next week. In addition to the more than 20 artisan vendors, whose individual food stalls will roll out in stages, the market features a full-service restaurant, Mess Hall, that will be helmed by executive chef Tim Kolanko, who oversees all of Blue Bridge Hospitality's kitchens including Stake Chophouse and Leroy's Kitchen + Lounge.
Backed by chef de cuisine Colin Murray (Brooklyn Girl), sommelier Tami Wong (Juniper & Ivy) and Blue Bridge beverage director Greg Majors, Kolanko, who spent over ten years at locally-revered temple of farm-to-table cooking A.R. Valentien, has created a nimble, ever-changing menu that will highlight ingredients — from seafood to cheese, meat and produce — sourced straight from the market's vendors. Founder David Spatafore tells Eater that other market-restaurant models, including Seattle's Melrose Market and its in-house eatery Sitka & Spruce, were the inspiration for Mess Hall's relationship with Liberty Public Market.
The 38-seat dining room, which cozies up to an open kitchen, shares a space within the market with Bottlecraft's beer tasting bar, a stand-alone cocktail bar and 50 open seats at a mix of four-tops and communal tables. During the day, the Mess Hall lunch menu will be available to those 50 seats, which are also accessible to market snackers and shoppers, while evening service will be reserved to the Mess Hall dining area, open Wednesday through Saturday night, plus Sunday for brunch and a prix-fixe, family-style Sunday supper. On Mondays and Tuesday, Mess Hall will be used for special events, from cheese classes to visits from guest chef.