Center of It All
The Gaslamp Quarter may bring to mind crowds of people, loud bars, drunken escapades and a plethora of mediocre, over-priced restaurants to many. Plenty of San Diegans opt to stay away from what once was a seedy, abandoned downtown just a decade and a half ago, but on a busy corner in the center of it all, is a balance of the scales. Barley Mash has established itself as a staple lunch & happy hour spot for the daytime crowds and one of the places to be seen for the night time crowds.
This isn’t just a giant sports bar with some fancy marble thrown about. Chef Kevin Templeton has created a menu that will satisfy your need for soakage and memorable food. Barley Mash doles out a big dose of mouth-watering experiences with a lively environment of friendly wait staff.
A few weeks ago, I saw Chef Kevin at The battle of the Chef Bands event for Center of Community Solutions and he told me to stop in sometime. At lunch hour, there were plenty of people in Barley Mash and out on the patio soaking in the people watching and the California winter sun. Indoors, the giant roll away windows were open and all the big screens were on. I tried to get a seat in front of the soccer matches but no such luck. My bartender/waitress, Lana, was friendly, attentive and helpful with suggestions. Once I got the wifi code, lunch was off to a great start.
pocket depth: ⇓⇓
address: 600 5th Ave, SD, CA 92101
phone: (619) 255-7373
vibe: upscale sports bar
known for: bourbon, craft beer, big food
ambiance: loud and lively
Big Food. Big Flavors.
Food here is BIG! Shareable indeed but what caught my eye were the “barleymacs” — a whole selection of SIX different mac and cheese dishes. Today I had The Mash, ale braised pulled pork, bourbon bbq sauce, sliced jalepenos and (drumroll please) crispy tobacco onions. The gooey, savory sweet, textured mound of deliciousness spoke to my inner Southern girl. – Since my PR firm is just upstairs, I may have to make time to try all the macs 😉 – Next on the list… Duck Duck Goat mac. This was my first choice but the duck wasn’t ready for the day.
“There’s a lot going on,” said Chef Kevin of The Mash Barley Mac.
Barley Mash has an incredible menu that is all worthy of attention but on this day, Barley Mash’s Mac & Cheese dishes were calling to me. I spent a few minutes with chefkevin, took a peek inside his streamlined kitchen and spoke to him briefly about his stint in Austin. We will certainly be continuing this convo again in the future.
I get it… Mac & Cheese iterations are nothing new but somehow I am still enamored with them when on a menu. The evolution from a rather boring 60’s one pot dish to the creative culmination of a whole, flavor-bursting meal inspires me. This concept of mac and cheese re-defines my memories as a child and allows me to refine that meal to suit not only my children but my husband and me.
True… the idea of mac and cheese being a quick family, go-to, meal for busy parents is lost
on this renewed meaning. No longer is mac and cheese as easy as boiling water, adding a packet of orange powder and a splash of milk to pasta. This “one pot meal” requires forethought, planning, timing… just like any other meal made with love.
What favorite childhood meals have you redefined for your family?