Monday, November 23, 2015

Modern Bar Fare at West Coast Tavern in North Park

I wondered why the name of this place was lit up on a theatre sign. Little did I know it was because the restaurant used to be the box office of the Observatory North Park theater that it is attached to! I was told that the West Coast Tavern is hopping during happy hour. A mix of DJs come in and spin too during the week, so this place gets packed! In North Park, street parking can be challenging but luckily there is a parking structure just around the corner for $5 bucks for the night.

The front entrance automatically leads you past the busy bar area, with the dining spaces further back.  We sat at an elevated table on bar stool-height seats. These tables surrounded the perimeter of the room. There was this cool leather booth that can seat a party of six right in the middle. It was noisy because music was playing in the background and crowds were chatting, but that was what I expected of a "tavern". Reservations are welcome!

It was pretty dim in the room, but our eyes quickly adjusted.  This pretty chandelier was a focal point of the room. This building has been here since 1921 and the architectural beauty was kept intact for some parts of the tavern.

Since we were in a tavern and all, we started with drinks. I had the "The Dude" - Ketel One with kahlua and creme!  I love white russians and this one was really good!

My hot date (hahaha, my husband will laugh out loud when he knows I called him that!) had "The Jackalope" - white rum, pineapple juice, apricot juice, lemon, orange bitters, and simple syrup. These warmed us up for the feast we were about to taste!

We ordered the following appetizers. I love anything that's wrapped in bacon, so we tried the bacon-wrapped nut-stuffed dates.  The walnuts mixed with the creamy goat cheese dipping sauce paired with the sweet date and salty bacon was a flavor and texture home run!  My daughter gobbled up the rest of this when we brought leftovers home.  I made a note that this dish was simple enough to make for our next potluck dinner.

Then it was bone marrow time.  My husband likes this and orders it whenever we see it on a menu. This was bone marrow with avocado aioli and tuna tartare mixed in.  So yummy, I think its the best we've had in SD so far!

We also tasted the prosciutto and burrata, arugula topped flat bread.  This was what you expected it to taste like, good but unremarkable.  

Then the mussels arrived. Crispy slices of baguette topped this dish, ready to sop up that broth at the bottom of the bowl.  I was warned that this was spicy, but I was not prepared! The heat crept in after one or two mussels. I rate this a 4 out of 5 on the spice level. I needed the bread to halt the sensation happening on my tongue!

Next, our entrees came. I had one of the new items on the menu, the Stuffed Pork Loin, filled with tender pork belly, pistachio and cherries, served atop garlic mash with a cherry reduction. A crisp apple arugula salad complemented the entree. This was a sophisticated dish. This pattern of nut-fruit-meat sweet/savory mixture (see previous date dish) impressed me again!
Photo courtesy of West Coast Tavern
Pork would normally not be my top choice of entrees, but this ended up being my favorite dish of the night.  All the goodness of home comfort food was in every bite.  

On the suggestion of our waitress, my husband enjoyed a portobello mushroom burger. A nice hearty portobello slice on top of the beef patty with garlic aioli, goat cheese and arugula (sure must love arugula here) inside the was very good as well. 

To finish off, we couldn't leave without tasting the flourless chocolate cake, made with peanut butter frosting, chocolate sauce and, butterfinger crumbs, yes...BUTTERFINGER crumbs on top. This my daughter Allison would love because she's a fan of you guessed it, BUTTERFINGERs! The texture of the cake was like a huge chocolate truffle, smooth and creamy. 

What's cool about West Coast Tavern is that each day there are different specials, drinks paired with special dishes.  On Thursdays though, this is the special! Right on!

Paris, the manager that night, was sweet enough to let us check out the adjoining theater when we finished our meal. It was beautiful!

The show that night was the "Down the SocioPath Tour 2015 with Youth Code and Skinny Puppy". Interesting mix of people that would seem like BFs with Marilyn Manson. I saw a lot of black leather, metal spikes, black makeup, ripped black clothes, and hair that was teased like it was the 80s all over again. Paris did mention they try to get a good mix of artists. Although we didn't stay for the music, the line of people going through security was long! These groups sure had a solid fan base! Check out upcoming events at the Observatory theater here

For sure it was an unforgettable night, and mainly because of the gourmet food! Kudos to Chef Abe! Knowing he grew up in Imperial Beach, I felt the South San Diego ties in his food, like an old friend serving up his best dishes for visitors.  Try West Coast Tavern soon for the special ambiance, drinks, food and shows!

Disclosure: I was invited for a complimentary tasting in exchange for this blog post.  All opinions are my own.

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