When farm to table restaurants come to town, Pacific Beach that is, Garden Eats gets excited. There’s no greater joy than kicking back to order off of a menu where the chef has taken great care to source ingredients locally and sustainably. That’s exactly what chef John Medall has created with his new seasonal Happy Hour menu at The Patio on Lamont Street. While some smile at the half off full glasses of wine, draft beers and their signature “cool” cocktails, my eyes lit up when I saw gluten free! When my friend Alex heard The Patio was my fave place for breakfast and that I was a big fan of culinary inspired cocktails, he invited me to catch up at their new happy hour!
Contemporary + Beach + Lush Garden Design
I’m all about the scenery when I’m out- I loathe dive bars and drool over smart, eclectic, modern design. I love walking along the Egyptian Papyrus on the way inside. The Patio evokes a natural sort of Feng Shui vibe- looks like a lush garden bungalow from the outside- and is a laid back, yet vibrant, contemporary oasis on the inside. Oh, and they’re dog friendly too! If you head down to catch up with a friend, the long social table Alex chose for us bar side was awesome. We were able to chat and fill the entire length with dish after dish, all while interacting with people at the bar.
Alex and I only ordered two drinks- Mr. Chow and The White Lady. It wasn’t that we didn’t drink more than two drinks, but rather than ordering on our own, Gary, The Patio’s barman paired cool cocktails with our small and big bites. This was an awesome experience for me- sometimes I feel like I’ve tried everything, so to have someone carefully pair cocktail flavor profiles with my meal- I was happily surprised.
Gary sent out the Brown Derby with our Venissimo Cheese board (yes, that’s right, I said Venissimo!). The crisp bourbon and grapefruit blended together with honey was a perfect pairing with the salty and smoky Beemster, Vlaskaas, an amazing Dutch cheese.
I love golden beets and goat cheese, so chef Medall sent us the Roasted Beet Bruschetta. Gary saw it arrive and handed over a taste of the Last Rights- rye with green chartreuse, Luxardo maraschino liqueur and lime juice. Sweet, salty, tangy and acrid. I took a sip for every tiny bite of bruschetta. I don’t think I can go back without sitting in front of Gary now!
One of my favorite featured dishes of the night was the Braised Spanish Octopus. It was served across smoked pork belly and gigante beans. Pretty sure the pine nut butter is what had me craving it the next morning.
If you plan to stop into the Patio just for happy hour imbibing, at least go slightly hungry so you can try one of the fish specials. Alex and I split the buttery Alaskan Halibut with charred tomato over Panzanella salad. For those of you who love wine with seafood- nothing better pairs with this than the Greek “bone dry” white wine, “Santorini”- The Patio describes it, “a clean finish longer than the deck of a Greek oil tanker.” Yep, that’s about right!
Just when I thought I was full, the music started out in the courtyard and creme brulee with fresh berries arrived. And then there was fire- what’s happy hour without fire! I looked across the bar at Gary lighting a copper mug on fire, transferring a flaming cocktail between two mugs and then pouring a creamy looking drink into a dessert glass. To my surprise, and delight, the drink landed on my table with a smile from Gary behind the bar. Gary says the drink is yet to be named, but if you sit down in front of him at the bar and request the “dessert drink you made for Christine from Garden Eats with the fire” I bet it will jog his memory!
I woke up the next day craving the octopus- it was that amazing. I then proceeded to tell my boyfriend, my mother, my girlfriend who is a caterer, my business partner, a local food writer for Serious Eats, a client whose entire family is gluten free, two tourists at the beach and my two craft cocktail loving girlfriends in North County about my happy hour the night before. When I love something, I tell everyone I know! If you haven’t been, go- Spring is perfect to celebrate new beginnings with friends- especially at happy hour. I’d even go alone to make new friends- everyone at the bar was so outgoing! Chef Medall, Gary and the other bartenders are really inspired to create with the new season’s fresh ingredients, so you really will experience their best.