Spring is in the air, which means brunch season is here! There's truly nothing better than an ease into a weekend day with a heaping plate of comforting breakfast/lunch fare served with hot coffee and (optional) cocktails. Sitting on a deck in beautiful sunny weather with great food is darn near perfection in my book, and the Gaslamp District of San Diego is one of the best spots to be in our fair hamlet.
I checked out barleymash when they opened a few years ago, and was invariably impressed with the food and vibe. The energy of the place at peak hours is undeniable, with pumping loud music, TVs on full blast, bartenders spinning drinks, and raucous, happy laughter and conversation from the patrons. It's simply the place to be.
Brunch is served on weekends 10-2, getting down to business with all of those East Coast games that start early, but late enough to roll in after a late night before. I mean, what better way to catch up on the previous night's events than over a plate of comfort food -- and as always, barleymash delivers big on flavor, presentation, and portion size.
The centerpiece to their brunch menu is the Barleyhash plates. The hash is a sort of breakfast version of the popular Iron Fries served at dinner. Mounds of chopped potatoes lightly fried until tender, then topped with various ingredients (think short ribs, bacon, cheese) and finished off with two fried eggs. The All-In is the most decadent, with three meats -- pork belly confit, stout-braised short ribs, and honey-porter pulled pork -- then doused in pepper jack beer-cheese sauce, with two proud eggs on top, just to keep your blood pumping. This hearty dish is great for reviving the spirits after a late night, and after merely sharing this dish, I was full until dinnertime!
I like a bit of sweet with brunch, even though I tend to prefer a savory breakfast. But this is brunch, so a little treat is expected! Hard Cider Bread Pudding French Toast? Now that's a mouthful of a title that's a delicious mouthful, literally! There are so many tempting things on the brunch menu, which I plan to try out next time, but a new twist on such a classic as French toast is always a contender! The toast itself is treat enough -- delicious sweet bread with cinnamon and fresh cooked apple pieces. However, add in the sweet agave cream cheese, and it was staggering.
I said that cocktails were an optional brunch item, right? At barleymash, the optional is just out of politeness. With a build-your-own Bloody Mary and mimosa bars, the cocktail options are impossible to resist. Piles of bacon and other cured meats, vegetables, hot sauce, lemons, anything that you want is available to make the Bloody Mary of your dreams! Mimosas are a brunch tradition, and although not as intense as a Bloody Mary, the mimosa bar offers fruits and various juices to customize your sparkler. If you're not into building your own drink, the Java the Hutt is a great choice for those who like a little boozy coffee. It's cold brew coffee, Ballast Point Fugu Horchata Vodka, white chocolate, cream, and sugar. Kind of a little hair of the dog, eh? Some coffee and vodka will always set your straight, and who doesn't think that horchata vodka is the best idea ever?