Saturday, March 3, 2007

A link in the chain

My friend Danny was complaining that as a whole my blog doesn't seem to devote itself enough to San Diego. My problem is that I like to post about stuff that normally people wouldn't go out of their way to eat, but the problem with that is, I don't do that myself all that often. I usually just eat a simple bowl of pho, some chick fil a, or some take out Chinese. And I'd rather not write about it because I think Asian food itself is done incredibly well by Kirk from mmm-yoso. So I tend to find myself talking about Los Angeles , because everytime I go back to LA I purposely plan restaurant trips and try to go to interesting restaurants (like this weekend! Minibar anyone?).

But I've taken his pleas to heart and tried a few new places or re-visted old places with a rather diverse menu. First up is one of the newer San Diego hotspots The Linkery.

In the past few years the California population in general has been on a huge trip of organic/healthy food and micro-breweries (I know an odd combination, but I assume micro-breweries are more refined beer? More refined beer = healthier? Sorry I wasn't that great in Math). And the Linkery does a good job on providing local ingredients in their dishes that they believe is of significantly higher quality, as well as an ever changing selection of micro brews on tap from local breweries (as well as wine from all over the country). The Linkery actually has a blog that one of the owners Jay types up, he keeps everyone up to date on the changing weekly menus and drinks. Read it after the jump. Jay actually came around and gave us samples of this DELICIOUS DELICIOUS Bavarian beer Hopf Weisser Bock.

Beware, this post may get long, we had a party of 5 that had multiple appetizers, drinks, entrees, and desserts so if you have something to do in the next 30 minutes I suggest you come back at another time =).

The Linkery is located in Normal Heights, which is I guess slightly close to Hillcrest and they specialize in making sausages (see where the name comes from). They have two separate seating areas, a room that is illuminated in red and close to the bar and then where we sat. We sat in an overly dark part of the restaurant with extremely dim lights hanging over the room with a candle as our only guiding light. If I was single and I was on a blind date I would not take her here and have her at the Linkery unless I know EXACTLY what she looks like, cause we all know how a dark area is quite tricky =P. My eyes actually hurt from trying to read the menu by candle light, I felt like I should have been writing out my entry with a quill and ink. Because of this horrible lighting, the pictures required flash, and since they have very shiny plates there is a bit of glare (I've warned you!) Because of the necessity of a good flash, these pictures are of significantly higher quality than my normal camera phone pictures. (Courtesy of Matt's SD 800IS Canon).

The Menu itself is fun, because of their ever changing menu they get a little clipboard and clip printed out pages and you just flip through it. Every single ingredient on the menu for the dishes has a little parentheses next to it telling you where the ingredient is purchased from. I was hoping to be scanning along and see Ketchup (Albertsons).

They have a "special" where you add $5 to your entrée and you get a pick from one of their hand made sausages which isn't too bad, but 5$ for a sausage is a little expensive.

So I ordered the Ocean Trout with a side of Wisconsin Bratwurst. Matt had the Braised Pork chops with a side of Wisconsin Bratwurst, and we shared a pork Spring Roll (more on this rip off later), Kevin had the Picnic plate with Wisconsin Bratwurst and Chicken Chili Verde Sausage. Allison had the Picnic Plate as well with Wisconsin Bratwurst and Linguissa with a side order of Sautéed Green Peas. Jessica had the Picnic Plate as well with the Spicy Mexican Chicken Sausage and Wisconsin Bratwurst with a side of Cactus meat!.

The first thing to arrive was the Pork Spring-roll that we ordered. ($7.50). I understand that its not cheap to put the type of pork they did into the spring roll, but they only gave us ONE AND A HALF SPRINGROLLS! What happened to the other half?! How horrible is that, they are so cheap that they actually cut one of them in half and saved it for whomever else was going to order it next!

The Spring Rolls themselves were pretty good, they pork had a nice smoky flavor, but is it worth $7.50? Not by a long shot.

Then the other appetizers, the Green Peas and the Catcus arrived. The Green Peas were sautéed with what we suspect to be bacon drippings. It had an almost meaty quality to it. It was delicious! I love bacon drippings! You can put bacon drippings on any dish and I'll love it! The peas had a nice snap to them and were very tasty.

The Cactus was interesting, I have had cactus once in my life, but never in this form. They pan fried a whole cactus leaf and drizzled it with a slightly sweet yet sour sauce. The leaf itself is almost fruity but still retaining the standard taste of most green vegetables. The leaf is also thick like a fruit, unlike normally plants that are rather thin and small. This wasn't bad, due to its unique taste if anyone's curious they should give it a shot.

The Picnic plate is a combination of two sausages, some grain bread, salad with a light vinaigrette, two types of cheeses, and corresponding sauces with what you ordered.

The Chicken Verde Sausage wasn't too bad, it was a basic chicken sausage with a lil bit of a "spice" to it, but it tastes significantly better when you dip it into the chili verde sauce that's provided. The Spicy Chicken is surprisingly spicy , I liked this one the most by far. It may be the only sausage that left a good impression on me, It was spicy but not that salty, but JUST salty enough so I didn't need to dip it into the sauce. The Linguissa was probably one of the worst sausages I've ever had. Maybe it was burnt? Maybe the pig that it's made from decided to play a mean mean trick and ingested a large amount of poison that would make his meat taste HORRIBLE.

On to my sausage! The Wisconsin Bratwurst tastes like a normal Bratwurst =(

Nothing too special about it, I thought the beer flavor was actually kind of lacking. But the spicy mustard they provided with it made it taste quite nice. So B to the sausage but A to the sauce! And if you look at the picture do you find it rather odd? We have two sausages (one from me and one from Matt), but one seems to be significantly larger than the other! How unfair, but life's unfair, sometimes you just have a bigger sausage than the next person.

My dish was Tasmanian Ocean Trout, served with smoked corn salsa, mashed avocado and quinoa. On first inspection (I wasn't sure cause… there was no light) I thought I had Salmon! But after reading about it online, there are specific types of trout that look and taste like a lighter salmon. They placed the trout on top of some fresh guacamole and quinoa. Eating the trout by itself wasn't anything special, the bottom was a lil overcooked, (aka burnt). What made it good was blending the Trout with everything else.

Strike away the good. It was GREAT!.

The salsa was just a little bit sweet (due to the corn being smoked) and the guac had large chunks of avocados in it and the quinoa tasted like ultra short grain rice. I couldn't get enough of this combination. The salmon was cooked well other than the burnt bottom (sorry I mean trout) and it had a very nice flake to it.

Matt's pork chops were very tasty as well, it was two grilled pork chops over smashed purple potatoes with grilled blue-cheese-stuffed Belgian endive. They are initially braised then grilled, which results in a redness in the middle of the pork chop like its raw.

When we first saw it we said "OH MY GOODNESS MATT GET A NEW PORKCHOP YOU CANT EAT PORK RAW!!!" (we as in me) "BUT EAT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN SO THEY GIVE YOU A WHOLE NEW ORDER SO ITS LIKE YOU HAVE TWO DISHES!" (me again). The pork chop was very tender, it was like I was biting into a medium rare steak (which initially led to my suspicion of the of it being raw. It had a nice applesauce flavor to it as well. I wonder who ever came up with pork and apple sauce? What a combination! Like Foie Gras and wild nuts with Fresh berry jelly! (no one believes me that I've eaten this before because they can't believe there would be such a concoction, but I know those with the finer tastes in life have tried it). With the pork chop came some glazed chopped onions which I didn't have the opportunity to try, but I assumed that he cleaned up the plate like I did so I'm sure it was good haha.

After the meal, we had dessert, an order of Mango Cheesecake and Blue Cheese Cheesecake.

The Mango cheesecake was very underwhelming, there was absolutely nothing special about it.

It had a TINGE of mango flavoring. If the recipe asked for 10 drops of mango flavoring they decided to only but .01. They put some candied mangos on top of the cheesecake, but sorry you can't trick me, I love mangos, I know mango, and this sir IS NOT a mango cheesecake. And not only was it not that special, it was incredibly small. For 6.50$ I expect cheesecake factory style cheesecake (oreo cheesecake drooooolll).

BUT on the other hand the Blue Cheese Cheesecake was extraordinarily unique. They obviously followed the amount of flavoring for this one. If you like blue cheese this is the way to go.

The cheesecake is topped with a light port wine reduction so its not really a dessert (unless you like cheese for your dessert which a few do). I don't like blue cheese, and the very strong blue cheese flavor turned me off, but my other table mates who <3 the BC really enjoyed this cheesecake.

The Chowhound posts that talked about the Linkery were spot on. The dishes that were good were really good but the dishes that weren't were pretty bad. My friends liked it a lot because of the ambience of it all (and the cask beers) but definitely be wary of what you are ordering. My bill came out to be 43$ after tax and tip, for my entrée/cheesecake/sausage/ and split of a spring roll. I really don't think it was worth $43 I'll just have to avoid the $6.50 dessert, the $7.50 appetizer, and the $5 sausage and I would have been golden! But it's a nice place to say you've tried just solely based on the unique restaurant experience (a lil too indy sheik for me tho =P), because of their interesting ingredients and favorable libation list!


Gourmetish said...

I have to say that I agree with you about the lighting and I'm a sausage snob and wasn't impressed with the one time I went there. Then again, it was dreadfully hot and it must have been 100 degrees in there. So I decided not to write a post about it in case my experience was uncommon. Sounds like maybe it wasn't. Hmm. I'm glad your photos turned out, though. Btw, welcome to SD food blogging! (Kady)

Jay Porter said...

Clay and Kady,

I'm bummed that not everything we served you was excellent on each of your visits. We know that our consistency hasn't been where it needs to be if we're going to be a world-class restaurant (our goal), and we're continuing to work hard to get to where a disappointing dish just doesn't happen.

As an example, as of last week we've been joined by Rey Knight, who was the executive chef at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco. He's got a great background in high-volume, world-class artisan cuisine, and he is helping us identify how we can change our processes so we can effectively eliminate mistakes such as those you describe.

I really do appreciate your feedback and your coming in to try our food out. If ever you're in again and anything isn't right, please let us know. Not only can we fix it right away, we also can figure out what went wrong which helps us improve more quickly.

Consistent premium quality is a challenge with small-batch, handmade food, but one that we embrace and intend to conquer. Thanks for your help. And thanks for blogging. I think it helps everyone.


Anonymous said...

the Linkery is actually located in North Park not Normal Heights.

clayfu said...

Kady: thanks for replying and thanks for the welcome! And year =( i wish all the sausages turned out better not just the spicy chicken one.

Jay: thanks for replying! i was delighted by your craft beers and the main course dishes we had.

Like i said, i'd come again but i just have to be more selective. My eyes are too big and they don't always agree with my wallet.

3 of the 5 in our party have already gone back again, they just limited themselves.

But thanks so much for replying, it shows you guys are heavily involved with your community.

Anonymous: Thanks. i'll change it later.