Jul 212014
 

A few weeks ago, I visited Common Theory Public House for their grand opening – I had a really great time there, but I did not get to experience the full menu since they had a limited special menu for the grand opening weekend. S and I went back for another visit recently with some of our friends to check out their other offerings!

I’ve already shared photos of the restaurant in my first post, so I skipped those and went straight for the food this time. 

Daily Special: Ahi & Scallop Poke [$13]

Daily Special: Ahi & Scallop Poke [$13]

The Ahi & Scallop Poke on the daily specials board attracted my friend’s attention immediately. She was pretty surprised when this dish came out, though – it was more of an appetizer than an entrée. She said that although it tasted pretty good – she especially liked the scallops – it wasn’t worth $13, and definitely wasn’t filling enough for her as a meal.

Pork Belly Katsu, served with a candied jalapeño and hoisin molasses sauce [$9.5]

Pork Belly Katsu, with candied jalapeño and hoisin molasses sauces [$9.5]

One of our friends has tried this before and decided to order it again.

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Jun 162014
 

Common Theory Public House is a newly-opened gastropub on Convoy St – I’ve been following news of its opening on Eater San Diego, and this past weekend was their grand opening. There would be a lot of specials, so I went to check it out with S and a couple of friends.

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The restaurant is located in the same plaza as Yes! Pingo and the also newly-opened Blush Desserts (which I’ve yet to check out). I can’t remember for the life of me what used to be here… maybe a Korean restaurant?

Anyway, the restaurant is pretty big – there is a bar with 30 taps, and two large open seating areas with private booths and communal tables.

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They had some interesting decor… haha. The bird cages were adorable!

Here’s the cask that was tapped for the grand opening, Ballast Point’s Reef Rye Brown Ale with rum oak chips:

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There was a “Keep the Pint” special for the cask, so S and our friends each got one. I had a Lambic Framboise instead (a raspberry low-percentage beer, yes I am a lightweight).

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Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwich: shredded veggie slaw, cotija cheese, cilantro aioli, brioche bun; side of fries [$9]

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Nov 052013
 

I’ve posted before about Neighborhood, one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. A couple of weeks ago, we went with a couple of friends to the Alton Brown live show (which was absolutely awesome, and you should get tickets immediately to the show if he is coming to your city!), and after the show ended, we decided to grab dinner at Neighborhood, since it was already almost 9:30PM, and we figured the four of us could get seats pretty quickly. Turns out the restaurant was still pretty crowded, but luckily we were able to snag a big table that’s half indoors and half outdoors. Haha.

Anyway, onto the food… Sorry the pictures turned out so dark. The restaurant isn’t exactly well-lit, plus we were sitting half outside…

Pale Ale Battered Onion Rings [$5]

Pale Ale Battered Onion Rings [$5]

Idaho Potato Fries [$4]

Idaho Potato Fries [$4]

We started out with a couple of appetizers – the classics, fries and onion rings. The onion rings were really delicious – the rings were cut really thick from what seemed to be a regular-sized onion, which was quite sweet. The batter was crunchy and balanced out the sweetness of the onion. It was served with mustard seed mayo, but I felt like it didn’t even need any sauce. The fries were thin-cut and not super crunchy, but still really good. (S likes his fries almost soggy, so he really enjoyed these, haha.) The accompanying sauces were garlic herb mayo, which was very garlicky, and I added a sun-dried tomato aioli, which I preferred.

The Local Animal [$9]

The Local Animal [$9]

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Sep 192013
 

A while back, S and I tried out Slater’s 50/50, a super popular Southern California burger chain. We had a really enjoyable experience there but haven’t returned too often, mostly because it’s a bit far from where we live, and there’s usually a pretty long wait for a table (and they don’t take reservations). Recently, one of our friends wanted to try it out, so we decided to go on a weeknight, when there was less of a wait.

Slater’s is famous for its half-beef, half-bacon patty. My first impression of the patty was that it was too salty, but during several other visits, it was actually quite nicely balanced and very juicy. I also like that you can customize your own burger, choosing from a wide variety of toppings and sauces! Sometimes I do get overwhelmed with options, though, and would rather just go with one of the restaurant’s own creations.

Anyway, we first started out with some appetizers since we had five people. When it’s just S and me, we don’t usually get apps unless we’re super hungry…

Slater's Vampire Dip [$4]

Slater’s Vampire Dip [$8.95]

The Vampire Dip is a roasted garlic, cheese, and artichoke dip – named so for the ample amount of garlic it contains, I assume? It was served in a bread bowl and with pita chips. A lot of people on Yelp raved about this dip, but I thought it was just okay. The consistency was too thick for my liking, and the flavor was good but not super impressive. Haha. I did like the bread bowl, though.

Slater's Fries & Fried Bacon Mac n Cheese Balls

Slater’s Fries & Fried Bacon Mac n Cheese Balls [$6.45]

We also tried out the fries and fried mac n cheese balls in a combo. The fries were pretty standard, served with not-so-standard but oh-so-good bacon ketchup. I thought the bacon made the ketchup so much tastier. The mac n cheese balls were my pick, and they were served with Tapatio ranch. I thought they were flavorful enough without the ranch, though.

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Inside workings of the fried bacon mac n cheese ball. It was actually really delicious – the exterior was super crispy, and the mac n cheese inside was smooth and creamy. Not too much bacon flavor, but that might be because my palate was already saturated with the bacon ketchup from the fries.

Onto our burgers. S and I both chose to customize our burgers. You can see the design sheet and my choices here:

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Aug 142013
 

Karl Strauss is one of San Diego’s (many) local breweries, and quite a popular one with many of my friends. According to S, Karl Strauss beer is popular among visitors because it tends to be less hoppy or bitter than others, such as Stone or Ballast Point, which some people aren’t so used to. Haha. Well, I’m no expert about beer – I just like anything that tastes good, and Karl Strauss’ famous Red Trolley Ale fits that description IMO – but I definitely trust the judgment of S and my beer-loving friends.

Of course, I care more about the food. I’ve only posted about my dining experience at Karl Strauss Brewery Restaurant just once, as part of a “San Diego visit” compilation post. Since then, it has quickly become one of my favorite places for American food, and we often take our visitor friends there to enjoy good food and drinks – only during dinner time, though. But a couple of weeks ago, S and his lab had a going-away brunch for a couple of his labmates, and I tagged along since I had never had the brunch at KS before.

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I believe the only location with brunch is the Sorrento Mesa one, which is somewhat difficult to find as it is actually in the middle of a tech park. Thankfully, there are ample directions on their webpage to guide you to the restaurant.

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KS Sunday brunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet, and you get a choice of bottomless mimosa, champagne, beer, beer flight, or soft drink/tea. I chose the mimosa, but most people chose beers.

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Mimosa

I took a few photos walking around the buffet, but it was a bit crowded so it wasn’t easy to get good photos.

Meat carving station

Meat carving station

Made-to-order pasta station

Made-to-order pasta station

Syrups

Syrups

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Nov 272012
 

S and I had a great time at Islands before, and I was recently invited to visit again and check out some of their holiday offerings. We had just been talking about going for Monday Night Football, so we took the opportunity to try the new items and catch a football game.

We started out with some drinks. Islands is offering new spiked coffee drinks, and from my experience with their cocktails, they can be quite strong.

Spiked coffee drinks

I decided to try the Irish coffee, and S went with the Islands Golden Ale, which is his “tried-and-true.”

Islands Golden Ale and Irish Coffee

The Irish coffee was, as I expected, pretty strong, but I also liked it a lot – probably because the sugar and cream helped tone down the taste of the alcohol. S liked it so much that he decided to try one of the coffee drinks, too.

Cocomo coffee

He went with the Cocomo coffee, which is creamier than the Irish coffee. I actually liked this drink even more than the Irish coffee – probably because it’s more chocolate-y. You can also order the coffee drinks decaf, if you don’t want to mix caffeine and alcohol.

Cheddar fries

Not a holiday special, but I love cheese fries, so we wanted to try out Islands’ version. It was pretty good – crispy fries, gooey, melted cheese, scallions, ranch sauce… what more could you ask for?

For our main entrees, we both went with burgers. One of the restaurant’s new items is the turkey patty, made with a mix of ground turkey, applesauce, seasonings, bell pepper, celery, and scallions. I was pretty intrigued by this description – normally I find turkey burgers to be dry and pretty bland compared to juicy, meaty beef burgers. Would all the mix-ins make a difference?

Mavericks turkey burger

I chose the Mavericks burger with the turkey patty. First thing I did was take a small bite of the patty itself and was pleasantly surprised by how flavorful it was! The applesauce and veggies made the burger less dense and “meaty”, but the patty was juicy and very well-seasoned. This must be the only turkey burger I have ever liked.

Mavericks turkey burger with side salad

FYI, also on the Mavericks burger: BBQ sauce, Islands Reds (crispy fried red onions), American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles. I opted for no mayo and a whole wheat bun. You also have a choice of endless fries, onion rings, steamed veggies, sweet potato fries, and small garden or Caesar salad. I chose garden salad with sesame dressing.

Hula burger with onion rings

S chose the Hula burger (beef patty), which has sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and also Islands Reds. He really enjoyed this, too. For his side, he chose onion rings, which weren’t great – the breading wasn’t properly seasoned and was overall very bland. I wish we had tried the sweet potato fries instead.

After our very satisfying meal, our waitress brought over the restaurant’s “Secret” menu item, Pipeline Porter floats.

Pipeline Porter floats

You’ve probably had a root beer float before – vanilla ice cream on root beer. Well, this is vanilla ice cream on top of Pipeline Porter beer (from Kona Brewing Co). The beer is brewed from Kona coffee and boasts a roasty aroma and earthiness, which theoretically pairs perfectly with the sweet vanilla ice cream. Unfortunately neither of us really enjoyed it – I think the bitterness of the porter didn’t really work as well with the ice cream as one would have thought. In the end, we scooped out the ice cream and then drank the beer separately. Haha.

Overall, though, it was a good dinner, and as I’ve already mentioned, I was very impressed with the turkey burger. When the manager came out to chat with us, she said that the patties are made everyday so that the mix-ins stay fresh. I have some friends who don’t eat beef, and I was excited to share with them the news of a good turkey patty. The atmosphere at Islands is great, and the waitstaff is very friendly. I’m sure we’ll be back for football and drinks again!

Disclaimer: As I’ve noted above, I was invited to Islands by a PR company. Our meal was complimentary, but all reviews and opinions are my own.

Islands Restaurant
3351 Nobel Drive, La Jolla, CA

http://www.islandsrestaurants.com/

Hours: Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

Nov 022012
 

I’ve heard so much rave about Slater’s 50/50 that I had to check it out for myself! My first taste of the burgers there was at SD Restaurant Week’s Kick-off Tasting event, where they served quarters of the famous 50/50 burger. By the way, I should explain – the name comes from their half ground beef, half bacon burger patties. Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

S and I actually weren’t super impressed with the burgers from the Tasting Event – we thought it was way too salty. But one of our friends kept telling us to try it, and that it was his favorite burger in San Diego (and perhaps ever), and there was a Yelp check-in deal (10% off from 10pm-close, not sure if the deal is still available). So we decided to head over for a late-night meal.

Normally, I believe there’s quite a wait (we called in once on a Saturday evening, and the wait time was 2 hours!), but there were quite a few tables available when we went on a Thursday after 10pm. It’s a pretty typical sports bar with several TVs, booths, and a pretty large bar. Our waiter told us that they have over 100 beers on tap!

100 beers on tap

(By the way, this is another cell phone camera post… I should really just tie it around my neck or something.)

S tried the Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, and I had a sip. It was very vanilla-y, yet it went surprisingly well with the smoky flavor of the beer.

Breckenridge Vanilla Porter

For the burgers, you could either “create your own” – select the type of patty and fixings – or choose from one of the restaurant’s creations. I went with the monthly special, the “Big Bad BBQ Burger.” It featured a patty composed of ground beef, ground pork belly, and ground pork shoulder.

Big Bad BBQ burger (burger of the month): mix of ground chuck, ground pork belly, and ground pork shoulder seasoned with Pete’s Firehouse Sub, coleslaw, red onions, colby jack cheese, four strips of bacon (I got it on the side), Pete’s Firehouse BBQ sauce, brioche bun ($9.95 for 1/3-pound)

It was really a great burger – the patty was very juicy and had a nice char, the fixings were appropriately portioned, and the bun was a nice, toasted brioche. I asked for the bacon on the side since I actually don’t enjoy bacon on my burgers (blasphemy, I know), and I’m glad I did because the bacon was quite salty. I don’t think we even ate all four strips of the bacon. But anyway, I really enjoyed my burger.

Build-your-own burger: 50/50 patty (mix of ground chuck and ground pork belly), chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, fried egg, brioche bun ($8.95 for 1/3-pound, $1 for egg)

S chose to make his own burger. The toppings he chose were simple, but I thought he did a great job since everything went well with the patty and tasted great together. The chipotle mayo here is really tasty – flavorful, but not overpowering. He really enjoyed his burger creation.

Overall we liked our restaurant experience much better than the tasting at the SDRW event. I found the patty very well-seasoned and flavors balanced. I can definitely understand why my friend claims that this is his favorite burger in San Diego. However, I have seen other reviews that lamented its inconsistency – so hopefully you’ll have the same great experience that I had!

They really do love bacon here.

Slater’s 50/50
2750 Dewey Rd. #193, San Diego, CA
http://slaters5050.com/

Hours: 11am-1am daily

Sep 192012
 

Neighborhood is one of S’s favorite restaurants in San Diego, but we don’t go nearly as often as we would like because 1. it’s difficult to find parking in downtown, and 2. the restaurant often has a really long wait-time. He said that once, he and some friends waited over an hour and a half and could not get a table! I guess that shows just how good and popular it is.

Since moving to SD, I’ve been to Neighborhood twice, and I’ll compile the two visits into one post. For the first visit, we came pretty late (around 10pm), and I did not have my camera, but fortunately my friend M brought his camera (which is also much nicer than mine) and took pictures for me.

The bar offers quite a few beers on tap, and even has draft whiskey and root beer! I really wanted to try the root beer on tap, but too bad they ran out.

Clockwise from top left: Lindemans Framboise, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Allagash Curieux

The food is overall contemporary American – burgers, hot dogs, salads, all with high-quality and creative ingredients.

The Neighborhood burger: caramelized onions,blue gruyere cheese, pepper greens ($10)

The burger is a pretty solid option – the patty was juicy and flavorful, and the bun was nicely toasted. I’m a fan of blue cheese with beef, and I think that the gruyere helped tone down the blue cheese a bit so that the beef flavor still comes through the most.

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