Searsucker


(San Diego, CA) — It is our final day in San Diego. We have a full itinerary, starting with a late breakfast, then exploring the city on foot, perhaps grabbing a snack somewhere, then retiring back to our hotel for dinner at Jsix. As they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” Unfortunately for our plans (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), our breakfast begins at a restaurant called Searsucker...

He Fed:

We find the restaurant, doors thrown wide. Inside, a smiling hostess stands ready at the podium while high ceilings resound with alt-pop remixes. To the right is an elliptical bar, an employee putting away the bottles from last night’s inventory. To the left is a dining room and a glimpse into the open air kitchen. Lighting fixtures are whimsical faux-gaslamps and artwork runs the gamut from bright splashes of paint to Rorschach-like ink smears. We claim our reservations and are led straight back to a small table.

Our waiter, Tyrone, looks tired but is full of energy and charm. He enthuses about this favorite dishes, then almost casually mentions the “bottomless mimosas”. What is this?!? I scan the menu frantically. Sure enough, bottomless mimosa is $15. These people don’t know what they’ve gotten themselves into! Juliet and I both order the drink, along with a Sticky Bun to share while we acquaint ourselves with the other breakfast offerings.

The Sticky Bun arrives in its own little griddle, with seared cream cheese mallow on top. We launch into it, admiring the fresh-baked, pecan-laden pastry and the oozy icing on top. Our first round of mimosas help wash it down. (Refills on the mimosas are frequent and poured from a magical pitcher.)

For my main breakfast, I cannot resist the Full “Monty” Cristo Waffles. They are four small waffles, stuffed (or mixed into the batter) with aged cheddar and ham, topped with a buttery dollop of strawberry-maple crème fraîche. They are rich, fluffy, and sweet...unutterably great. Indeed, we spend little time talking, instead focusing on the great food and drink. (Juliet’s Chicken Fried Chicken is incredible too, from the little bite I managed to steal.)

We pay up, then head out for the rest of our day but with one alteration: Searsucker is so good, one peek at their evening menu is enough to make us change our plans.

Flash forward to later that night...

It’s been a long day of debauchery, including a meandering walk up to Little Italy and stops at a military dive bar and Karl Strauss Brewery (where the manager, another Michigan expat, bought us a round of beers). Even a short nap back at the hotel doesn’t restore us to full health, but we’re still excited about dinner at Searsucker.

The restaurant glows at night, though the music track (looped, I’m sure) is the same. Our waiter is more staid and less personable, but efficient. We are given Cheddar Puffers to start; a basket of fresh-baked cheese croissant buns, crispy on the outside and oh so soft inside...and incredibly addictive. I usually avoid pre-dinner bread because it fills me up before I can get to the good stuff. No hope tonight; I mow down until all that bread is gone.

We both order glasses of tart sparkling pinot noir rosé from Weingut Barth, which pairs nicely with the blackberry-strewn Brie (served in the same type griddle as our Sticky Bun from earlier in the day). I’m also enamored of the Bone Marrow sprinkled with sea salt and onion jam. It is the best iteration of this dish I’ve had, where the marrow tastes like more than just buttery fat to spread on thin slices of crusty bread.

As if my appetite for meat wasn’t quenched already, like a magnet I’m drawn to the Tongue & Cheek. It’s hunks of beef tongue and beef cheek, side by side, slow-roasted and fork tender. Agave, fresco cheese, and bits of cactus help liven up the earthy plate. It’s basically the best beef roast you’ve ever had. I enjoy the playful garnishes—not to mention the punny name—but I know I’ll be back in Michigan soon, wishing for this dish every other Sunday.

Juliet also orders sides of jalapeno-chorizo corn (amazingly spicy sweet) and cauliflower with manchego (cheesy, slightly greasy, but great with meat). She also offers me a bite of her superb filet, cooked to perfection and fantastic quality.

Searsucker is the penultimate capper for our series of adventures in San Diego. Sadly, it is time to pay our bills, pack our bags, and head back to the midwest.
She Fed:

Since I’m in San Diego a fews before Jeremy, I ask a few locals for dining recommendations. It’s unanimous—we’ve got to try Searsucker, a place we stumbled upon on the internet a few weeks back and though it looked interesting, we didn’t make reservations. The locals are raving about the chef and the innovative menu so I text Jeremy and he slots it in for breakfast.

It’s a short walk from our hotel and the sun feels incredible. This must be why southern Californians are so cheerful. I feel a lopsided grin creeping onto my face and I haven’t even had a cup of coffee yet!

Clearly, others have the same great idea because the patio is full and it’s only 10 o’clock. Searsucker is huge and bright with tall ceilings, modern art, and alternative rock playing softly on the sound system. This might be the hippest place I’ve ever had brunch.

It’s confirmed when I see the drink list, which includes the commemorative MCA Beastie bloody, a cocktail described as “6 chili infusion, house made bloody, cucumber.” As both a Beasties fan and a foodie, I can attest it’s not often you find a reference to the late Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys on a brunch menu. “Well, I’m cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce” is a line from “So Watc’ha Want”, the second single released off the album Check Your Head. (I am full of useless info.)

I’m debating whether to order the bloody Mary and thinking what a tragedy MCA’s untimely death was (way too deep for a Sunday morning pre-caffeine if you ask me) when I spy the “bottomless mimosa” for fifteen bucks on the menu. Sold!

Our waiter is Tyrone and he’s a top-notch server. Prompt and attentive without being cloying or overbearing. As with every weekend, Jeremy got up much earlier than I did and he’s famished. He puts in an order for a sticky bun to share along with two bottomless mimosas. I also order a latte hoping I can catch up to him this morning.

The sticky bun is coated with a slightly burnt marshmallow-like topping. Tyrone says it’s just cream that’s been broiled, but it’s super sweet . The pastry is very good, but I not a big sweet eater in the morning and leave most of it for Jeremy.

On Tyrone’s recommendation, I order the “chicken fried chicken”. Turns out the chicken is stuffed with cooked bacon before it’s fried and served with sausage gravy, a biscuit and two fried eggs. It’s a decadent, but ridiculously tasty dish that soaks up last night’s excesses.

We depart Searsucker satiated and intent on spending the day walking all over downtown San Diego. We keep finding ourselves talking about how fabulous brunch was and how great the dinner menu looked (Tyrone gave us one to peruse during brunch). Finally, we break down and make late night reservations at Searsucker for dinner.

In the moonlight, Searsucker is even hipper with low lighting and the music turned up just slightly. Our waiter Jason is solid, but not as personable as Tyrone. We start with a glass of sparkling rose, but switch to sparkling water after and he’s clearly disappointed.

Jeremy opts to start with bone marrow and onion jam, while I go for the brie with blackberries and currants. Both are served with toasted bread sticks. I try the marrow only to confirm that while I like the taste, I’m not a fan of the texture. The brie is ooey-gooey from the oven and the fresh berries give it a sweet-tart kick. It’s messy to eat with the bread sticks, but delicious.

After five days of fish and chicken, I decide to have the filet with lobster butter. Served on a bed of caramelized leeks, the filet is pure heaven...heaven topped with a pat of lobster butter. We’ve also ordered sides of the jalapeno chorizo corn and cauliflower with manchego to share. Both veggie sides are divine. We eat way more than we should, but it’s all so good.

We’re waaaaay too full for dessert or coffee and it’s time to pack up and head home to the cold tomorrow. Searsucker made our last day in San Diego a mouthwatering one.

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