By Frank Sabatini Jr.
The Brew Project rolls out a new brunch menu
It isn’t everyday hubby and I arrive somewhere for weekend brunch with a bottle of champagne waiting for us on ice.
Such was the case on a recent Sunday when my sister-in-law and her wife suggested we join them to check out The Brew Project’s new weekend brunch menu. Both are club members of Brew Project’s bar program, and the ownership had invited them to patronize the brunch and review it online in exchange for a free bottle of Wycliff Brut champagne. Without any arm twisting, we were in.
A gay ole brunch it was as we crafted mimosas at the table and passed around a kicky old fashioned that hubby ordered. The sweetish cocktail is made with bacon-infused bourbon and maple syrup. Since we hadn’t ordered our food yet, the curly slice of bacon garnishing the drink cruelly taunted our empty stomachs.
Bacon in one form or another appears profusely across the brunch menu. You’ll find it in a number of other cocktails, including “breakfast shots,” plus various burritos, egg dishes, burgers, smothered French fries, and waffles. If you suspect this persistent culinary trend is here to stay, you’re probably right.
Even the re-fried beans included with my chilaquiles verde hid little bits of bacon throughout — and I’m guessing their unctuous drippings ended up in there too, given the beans’ terrific flavor and divine creaminess.
Set in a converted Craftsman house, The Brew Project is a multi-level shrine to San Diego’s ever-growing number of breweries. The rotating beer selection is dispensed from 20-plus taps that will quench your palate with new, local discoveries.
It’s also a hangout for Seattle Seahawks fans, per one of the owner’s Washington State roots. Fortunately, for this non-sports fan the place has never felt to me like a hardcore jock bar. It is first and foremost a neighborhood gathering spot flaunting cool aesthetics and a prime Hillcrest location.
A sign out front states: “Please seat yourself.” (A sign in the restroom says the same.) We sat on the front patio, which features some of the comfiest nap-inducing banquettes in town, should you be lucky enough to seize one.
Whimsical humor extends to the names of a few menu items as well. “Pepp in your step” and “Lindsey Lohan” are titles for bloody marys, while “morning would” describes a stimulating breakfast of scrambled eggs, candied bacon, cheddar cheese and chipotle aioli on toasted brioche.
The girls ordered the “project Benedict” and chicken and waffles. Hubs opted for the piggy scramble, and I reveled in the snappy tomatillo sauce infusing crisp tortilla chips on my chilaqauiles plate, which came with the fat-laced beans and tender, perfectly seasoned golden potatoes.
My fork roamed the table. The braised pulled pork tucked into the project Benedict was tasty and juicy. And the Hollandaise sauce draping the eggs offered a bright lemon flavor, although the promise of ale in the recipe wasn’t detectable.
The battered chicken tenders set between airy Belgian waffles on that plate seemed scant to me, although my sister-in-law felt it was enough. We both loved the spices lurking in the batter — garlic, paprika, maybe curry, and “a whole bunch of other things,” according to our cheerful waitress.
Hubby’s piggy scramble contained an oink fest of chopped bacon, breakfast sausage, and house-made carnitas mingling with eggs and mozzarella. In terms of calories and protein, it rivals everything else on the menu, including the hangover burrito and the Dicky’s grilled cheese, both of which also contain bacon, sausage and cheese, but minus the carnitas.
What we ate was hearty and well-executed, not the slapdash morning fare that trendier joints overload with potatoes and herbal garnishes. Best of all, we didn’t encounter a line. Granted, we had a reservation. But customers who didn’t breezed right in and wasted no time ordering from Brew Project’s invigorating beer and cocktail list. It appeared booze was flowing more than coffee.
— Frank Sabatini Jr. is the author of “Secret San Diego” (ECW Press), and began his local writing career more than two decades ago as a staffer for the former San Diego Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.