Since turning 21, I have been on the hunt for good happy hour venues. I get out of work relatively late, so I needed a local place (in La Jolla, preferably) to fill my need.
Karl Strauss Brewing Company is a San Diego-based microbrewery and restaurant chain. One of their locations is conveniently located approximately 2 miles from the Neurosciences Institute, and it inconveniently takes approximately 50 minutes to get there during rush hour traffic. And an additional 15 to find parking. The only thing that kept me going was the promise of the special July food/beer pairing: a Tower 10 IPA and Chipotle Pomegranate Wings. When I got there, I decided I also wanted to try the Taster Six to start my Karl Strauss experience.
Again, I can say very little about beer beyond my preference and the different notes of flavor I noticed. That said, I liked the Red Trolley Ale. I met a lovely gentleman, a Karl Strauss regular named Barry, who told me that this beer happens to be his favorite mixer, usually combined with the Amber Lager. We also talked about his freeganism (he doesn’t buy food in restaurants, just beer), his life course, and the need for the modern teenager/young adult to blog, tweet, update Facebook, take pictures, and otherwise document and reimagine their lives. “In my day, we would have fun and forget about it.”
The main event, however, was indeed the July special. No amount of banter with the happy hour crowd could have blinded me to the strength of the wings and the jicama salad.
The chipotle-pomegranate mango sauce on the wings mingled well with the flavors of the IPA, just as the menu promised. The three flavors also matched so well together that I cannot wait to make something involving the smoky spice of chipotle and the tropical sweet of pomegranate and mango. The IPA-brine process that the wings endured before cooking tenderized the meat beautifully, resulting in extremely flavorful, fall-of-the-bone meat.
Even though the wings themselves were great, the condiment and the side salad elevated the meal. The wings were served on top of a squeeze of spicy mustard. Strong and sinus-clearing, the mustard succeeded at piercing what could have become overpowering sweetness in the wing sauce. The side salad was a chili-lime jicama crudo that served as an appreciated palate cleanser between wings.
Jicama is a fantabulous root vegetable that can be served in cold Asian slaws, fried and dipped in aioli (my first experience with it; the brother and I made this five years ago – we’re cool), eaten plain with some lime juice and salt, or however sounds good to you. It is kind of like a cross between an apple and a potato. I love it.
In conclusion, happy hour win.