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Friday, August 13, 2010

FOODIE FRIDAYS: Beer and Burgers at Encinitas Ale House

1044 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 
(760) 943-7180
THE VIBE:  Attractive young people at the bar sipping beer, lots of locals, friendly bartenders

A new restaurant opened in Encinitas recently in a tiny spot that's been getting some good local buzz.  No, not another Italian restaurant, thank God.  A Beer house!  Boasting of  "locally world famous" burgers!!  OK, let's go!

I used to drink a lot of beer in my poor days of youth.  That means a lot of Meiserbrau, Keystone, and when I would splurge, yes, Michelob.  But you won't find any of those beers here.  The list is longer than Lindsay Lohan's arrest record but luckily you can order a 4 beer sampler - I let the waitress decide for me what to get after telling her a few beers I do like that aren't sold in 12 packs for $6.99.

The beers are around $7 to $10 for a pint so go easy or you'll get Petco Park beer remorse when the bill comes. Time to eat.

Lots of good stuff on the menu, from crab cakes to fish and chips to burgers - lots of burgers!  I decided to go with the Colorado Lamb burger and my wife got the cheeseburger.

The lamb burger ($14) arrived so hot that I thought they loaded a stick of plutonium in it.  Seriously so hot that the bun was steaming and it was too hot to even pick up!  Alas, the fries were just warm, which is a pet peeve of mine, and they were fairly skimpy with the quantity of fries.  Hey, it's one thing to give me cold fries but at least give me a lot of them!  Anyway, a bite into the lamb burger and it was good, though underseasoned and a bit underwhelming. Ground lamb with goat cheese and yogurt dill sauce, I guess I should have read the description better.  Seriously, go try the pre-packaged lamb burgers sold at Henry's and you'll see why I was a bit disappointed in the overall flavor.  Henry's lamb burger goes POW in your mouth, this one was a bit bland.

Next up, the cheeseburger ($9).  Like the lamb, super hot and huge with again luke warm fries, but at least this time they filled the plate with them.  Way better than the lamb burger, way way better, though it too needed some salt and pepper to kick it up.  Thick and juicy, you know a good burger when you taste it and this one fit the bill once seasoned.

So here's the verdict.  Beer is A+.  You want to kick back and have a cold one, no better place in Encinitas.  The cheeseburger gets a B+ (would have gotten an A if it were seasoned properly), the lamb burger a B- (not enough flavors, just a giant hunk of ground lamb with goat cheese), the fries a C because they were not hot, overall score a B.  Recommended?  Sure, why not?  Just go basic burger and split it, and do the trick where you ask for no salt on the fries so they cook them fresh (and you discreetly salt them once they arrive).  That's my plan for next time, anyway!

Wally's got your back!  Visit Local Wally's Guide to San Diego for more local tips!

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