A strange thing happened over the last year or so......it seems that the Missus has been sucked into the Craft Beer movement....well, maybe not San Diego craft beer per se, She loves Belgian style Ales, Dubbels, and such. She's even gotten into sours after enjoying what I call the "gateway sour", Monk's Cafe. Strange, after all these years I have a beer buddy....and it's my wife!
During one evening at work, one of Her coworkers highly recommended Brabant in South Park. I contacted my buddy Candice, who also gave her seal of approval, so it was off to South Park and Brabant, housed in what used to be Vagabond.
For some reason, I've taken to the warm tones of the place.
There are 15-16 brews on tap and an absolutely huge bottle list. I quickly took to....well, I really consider him quite a bit more than "barman", perhaps "tenancière de bar", heck, let's just call him Adam, who is gregarious and enthusiastic about....well, just about everything! He is a gregarious embassador of Brabant, who happens to really know his beer.
The beer list is a literal binder, with tasting notes for various bottles all written in house, no plagiarism here I'm told. There's a pairing list for the various dishes, all wonderfully set-up for us, folks who are just starting to enjoy Duvel's, Rochefort's, et al....just in case you were wondering what to pair with Rabbit Saddle....I just know you were.
While sitting and enjoying our first beer, I got word from Candice that she'd be joining us, how nice....better to enjoy a variety of dishes.
We went ahead and ordered a couple of dishes while waiting for Candice. First up were the Mussels with Duck and Frites. The mussels were of the smaller type, which I tend to prefer because of the more intense flavor. In this case the mussels were over done and tough, sad because the white wine, cream sauce was balanced enough not to over power the mussels. The duck "rillette" was much too salty, though we loved the crisp duck skin, something that I love and is easy to make as a by product of rendering duck fat.
It was the other "part" of the dish that got me hooked, as I really took to the frites here.
We all have different preferences, this one pushed the right buttons for me. The outside fairly, but not overly crisp, the interior fluffy, there's a richness, that goes to the brink of being greasy, but never crosses that line.
The Missus really enjoyed the Bratwurst(which, like everything else is made in house) with Stoemp. She enjoys a rustic style sausage and being that there are perhaps a hundred or so variations of Bratwurst, the coarse, toothsome cut of the meat reminded me of the Franconian/Bavarian style Brat I had many years ago. The seasoning was spot on, the Missus loved the greens and caramelized onions, I the mashed potato (stoemp).
Things didn't fare so well with the "Pork Pudding", which was basically a pork aspic (gelee). This really lacked a nice texture, it was like eating pork jello on bread, which for us was a much too sweet brioche. We'd have preferred something more rustic and substantial like a rillette, more savory that sweet.
Candice went full speed ahead and ordered the Briased Rabbit. In my experience, rabbit can be a mixed bag, it can be really, really gamey and dry, or well balanced in flavor, keeping the flavor of the pasture, with a toothsome texture. I'm actually all for barding this type of meat.
What really saved the rabbit for us was the stuffing which was moist and fairly rich. I'm not the biggest fan of offal, but on our trip to Malta this past year we had a seared rabbit liver salad which was delicious. I could taste that wonderful, grassy flavor in the stuffing.
We had a wonderful time as great company elevates the meal. The Missus added Bacchus to Her "beers that I enjoy" list. Adam was a fantastic host and I was craving those frites a couple of days later.
So I returned. Adam remembered me and exactly what I drank...scarey. When I asked him for a recommendation, he told me to try the Klokke Roeland, nothing to mess with at 11%. I loved it, to me I could make out orange-clove-molasses-honey, but it wasn't too sweet. Man, this was good, but no more than one.....
All I really wanted were frites, but man does not live on spuds along so I got the Pulled Rabbit Sandwich.
I have to say, the Levain (wild yeast) bread really didn't thrill me and the Mr Cottontail was on the tough side. I did enjoy the acid of the tomatoes, and of course the frites......always the frites....
I enjoyed the place so much that when my Birthday came around....a very low keyed day, my good friends and I enjoyed a rich, but nice meal at Brabant..... Mr Q even had a cocktail with Absinthe!
We got to the bottle list.....
The food is on the "rich" side, but those frites call to me. I enjoy the folks here, they make me feel comfortable. South Park is a wonderful walking neighborhood, you can sit back and watch folks walking or driving by.
So there you go.......at heart, I'm still a "Pau Hana time Bud Light bucket ice kinda guy". But I've learned to spread my wings a bit. And Brabant is where that happens.
Brabant Bar & Cafe
2310 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
Mon-Thurs 3pm - 10pm
Friday 3pm - Midnight
Saturday 10am - Midnight
Sunday 10am - 9pm