Find friends and fresh fare at Finch’s Bistro & Wine Bar in La Jolla

• BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT:

“Civilized” is how diners frequently describe Finch’s Bistro & Wine Bar on Girard Avenue in La Jolla. “It’s a nice, quiet spot where people can come to have a conversation over wine or dinner,” owner Linda Ravden said.

She explained that until she saw the space she transformed into Finch’s three years ago, she had never considered opening a restaurant. “It reminded me of Parisian bistros and I saw a lot of possibilities,” Ravden said. “It had two separate dining rooms and La Jolla didn’t have a wine bar then, so we made one room into a wine bar that seats 16.”

Next, Ravden focused on creating a bistro for local residents. She wanted it to be a place they could meet and feel they were receiving good value for their money. “Our idea was to offer up-market dining, but for casual dining prices,” she said.

Ravden and her husband were both born in South Africa and are world travelers with an adventurous spirit for food and cooking. Their menu reflects an eclectic mix of international cuisine and personal family recipes. Their South African Bobotie is one dish not often seen on local menus.

“It’s like a Malaysian shepherd’s pie with ground lamb and vegetables topped with béchamel and served with jasmine rice with raisins and a homemade mango chutney,” Ravden said.

“Diners also love our Shrimp Portofino with giant butterfly shrimp in olive oil, served with marinated cherry tomato/avocado salad and crispy Yukon Gold potatoes with lemon garlic sauce,” Ravden said.

Their eclectic menu is a big draw for diners, but the local camaraderie keeps patrons coming back. Finch’s daily events also help create a lively, bistro ambience:

• Monday Wine 101: Finch’s offers a guided wine-tasting tour with bartenders leading guests through three wines and three paired appetizers, 6:30-7:30 p.m. On Mondays, Executive Chef Mario Medina cooks a special, prix-fixe dinner at $30 each.

• Tapas Tuesday night: Sangria, beers and tapas are $5 each.

• Wednesday Women’s Wag: Fun and friendly gossip at lunchtime provides an engaging group of women with a lively topic to discuss over lunch with a free beverage.

• Friday and Saturday nights: Live jazz.

Finch’s Chef Medina, a native of Mexico City, has become a noteworthy presence on the San Diego culinary scene. He’s been featured in Where and Riviera magazines, San Diego Home and Garden’s Chefs Hall of Fame, and has appeared on local television news shows.

He’s showcased his food at events for Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mama’s Kitchen, and the La Jolla Arts and Wine Festival, and was a featured chef in the cookbook “San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from America’s Finest City.”

Finch’s strives to combine great food, solicitous service and a charming ambiance for a fine-dining experience at casual dining prices in three seating areas — the dining room, wine bar and patio.

— Finch’s Bistro & Wine Bar, 7644 Girard Ave., La Jolla

• Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sundays.

• Daily happy hour: 3-6 p.m.

• (858) 456-4056

FinchsLaJolla.com

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