As I always say, when you pass a Ferrari dealer on the way to the restaurant, you know you’re headed in the right direction. La Jolla’s newest culinary gem comes in the form of La Jolla Brewing Co, only opening its doors at the end of this January. This is currently the only place in the neighborhood serving in-house brews and they are earning their keep. With some stiff competition next door and a less-than-loveable parking situation, I was a bit leery pulling up. Happily, I brushed it off the second I walked in the door.
The space is beautiful; dimly lit and well-spaced with big copper brew kettles and light accents hugging the walls. You enter the main eating area through the front door, but I recommend seating in the rear, where a second bar and more intimate space is tucked away.
First things first, the beer is good and the price is right. 4 bucks gets you a glass, 5.75 gets you a pint. Big and small growlers are also available if you’re feeling adventurous. The only way to go, however, is the flight of all 5 beer recipes for only $10.
They range from the lightest golden ale to the happiest stout. I particularly enjoyed the Glider Port Pale and the Bird Rock Brown, comparable to Newcastle but dare I say smoother and more flavorful. Beyond the in-house beers, LJBC taps over a dozen local favorites like Stone, Alesmith, Green Flash and Ballast Point.
The menu is extensive and has something for everyone. It breaks down into shares (appetizers for 2 or more, probably more), mac bowls, salads, flatbreads, sandos and entrees. I noticed, however, that the menu repeated main ingredients in different preparations, somewhat limiting the options, but there was plenty to choose from.
We started with the duck egg roll; definitely sharable. They came 6 halves to a plate served with house-made peanut and sweet chili sauces and soy. The rolls are perfectly crunchy, stuffed with duck confit, cream cheese and beer-braised onion, of course. I did not enjoy the duck fat dripping out the ends, but the flavor was undeniably decadent and creamy. Also, something must be said for these sauces; they perfectly paired with the rolls and really brought the flavors to the next level.
Mac and cheese done right can be the best thing in the world. This is one of those instances. A perfect blend of American, cheddar and pepper jack smothers noodles and lump crab meat with a perfectly light and crispy crab cake riding on top. Everyone raves over lobster mac but this crab put any to the test and I’d come back for just this plate.
The Hangar Steak Sando left just a bit to be desired. The sandwich was dressed in onions, mushrooms and gorgonzola and came with house made chips that were deliciously light, airy and seasoned. The flavor and cook of the steak was absolutely on point, but for a beer place that produces such big appetizers, I wanted more of it.
Our entree, the ocean stew, of mussels, white fish and shrimp with crostinis was absolutely delicious. The broth is seasoned with saffron and fills your nose and your palette with all the best sensations. All the seafood was prepared just right and as hoped with being so close to the ocean, they nailed this dish.
In a tough crowd, La Jolla Brewing stands out and I see this place sticking around for a while. Next time you catch yourself in La Jolla, grab a glass of beer and a mac and cheese and see how it makes you feel. Special thanks to Robbin for coordinating and all the staff at LJBC for an enjoyable evening.
La Jolla Brewing Co.
7536 Fay Avenue
La Jolla, Ca 92037