For those of you who have been keeping up with Mikey and I, you probably already know that Mikey and I had a recent adventure in San Diego (Which according to Ron Burgundy means “a whale’s vagina”). We had an awesome time while we were there and figured that between fine cigars and pints of cold brew, we’d hit a restaurant or two. Fortunately, we never had to stop drinking because we found a place in the Gaslamp that brews their own.
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery – G Street, Gaslamp District San Diego
This trip was completely unplanned. Mikey and I didn’t have time to consult our informants to get the lowdown on where to eat and imbibe. But I think we did a pretty decent job with this place, all things considered.
Rock Bottom is housed in the Carriage Works historical building, built in 1890, in the Gaslamp district of San Diego. San Diego is an awesome town, but the Gaslamp and downtown as a whole have experienced a renaissance of sorts over the past few years. There are a ton of places to eat down there and if any of you readers have suggestions for our return trip, let us know in the comments.
The restaurant as a whole is very similar in feel to BJ’s Brewery, which many of you will be familiar with. They have a couple more homebrews than BJ’s, but all the rest of it is the same. Higher end pub faire and a comfortable atmosphere are the hallmarks.
As an appetizer of sorts, Mikey and I decided to try the beer sampler. They had all the standards: Blonde, Pale, Red, Hef, Stout and Porter and they threw in a few bonus beers too including an IPA and their special Cinco de Mayo Lager. The beers were all pretty good, but none really stood out above the rest. They did look impressive on the table though.
The only bad thing about the beer is that because the servings are small (4oz) the beer tends to get warm a little too quickly. The easy fix for this is to drink fast. But if you aren’t into that, I suggest drinking the lighter beers first as the darker brews tend to do better at closer to room temperature.
To eat, Mikey ordered the Chicken Mac & Cheese and I got the Chicken Fried Chicken. I disagree with Mikey’s pick on principle. It is my firm belief that the only meat that should ever go into mac and cheese is bacon. Anything else is sacrilege. Because he broke the laws of nature, Mikey was punished with a merely average mac.
As many of you know, I am a fan of all things chicken fried, which tends to weigh heavily on my vegan-centric mind. That’s why I am so thankful that you guys read this stuff and give me a reason to eat all kinds of unhealthy food on a regular basis. Thanks for that, by the way.
My chicken fried chicken was pretty average too. My biggest complaint was that there just wasn’t enough batter on the chicken. Take note guys, the fried outside is always more important than the inside. At the end of the day, chicken is chicken and beef is beef, but crispy, perfectly spiced, crunchy awesomeness is forever. The potatoes were nicely done and the gravy was rich and savory, but with the chicken falling flat, the dish was a flop overall.
At this point you’re probably thinking that this is not a place that you would want to go. Let me tell you why you’re wrong. I’ve said many times before that good service and good people can turn average food into a great dining experience. I suppose the same can be said for booze, but that’s beside the point.
Our server, Grant, was part waiter, part tour guide, part ninja. Not only did he take good care of us and exhibit a “working” knowledge of the beer, but he also saved me 24 bucks in parking at Horton Plaza by letting us know where to get validated for free. That’s above and beyond in my book. He also gave us directions for parking for the Padres game, which could have been a disaster if we had not been educated.
Grant’s service is a perfect example for how much people matter in the restaurant biz. I could be eating the best steak in the nicest restaurant, but if I’m being ignored there is no way in hell I’m ever going back. Eating out should be an enjoyable experience and it should make you feel good. Grant, EatMeCalifornia salutes you for a job well done. Tell your boss to give you a raise or something. We would do it, but we’re still kinda broke.
I would recommend this place for bigger groups and beer drinkers. The food is pretty basic and a little pricey for what it is, but this is where happy hour deals come in handy. The beer sampler alone is an experience worth checking out.
Also, if you are a baseball fan, you’ve gotta check out Petco Park. It is clean and beautiful and the exact opposite of the Oakland Colosseum that we visited a few weeks back. We got seats at the box office minutes before the game. They were in the 20th row right behind home plate and they were only $55 per ticket. They had cheaper seats, but Mikey and I believe that life is too short for bad seats.
If you do manage to take in a game, make sure you visit one of the Ruby’s diner locations in the park to get the richest chocolate shake you’ve ever had. (When in rome…)
All in all, it was a fantastic night in San Diego. Hopefully Mikey and I will be back for an extended stay in the near future. So make with the suggestions people. We need to know where to eat next.