Ahh, Downtown. You have terrible parking, are very crowded, but have so many hip restaurants that I want to try! Damn you and your devilish Downtown ways.
Analog Bar. It’s right across the street from Croce’s on 5th Avenue. I have been here once before for brunch; it was only mildly impressive and the service left something to be desired. When I got an email from someone from the restaurant to come in and try out the new menu, I had mixed feelings about it. Would it be good? Is it worth it to go Downtown on a Saturday evening?
Yes, and yes.
I was able to bring three cohorts with me on this visit and invited Jake, Stacey and Frank to come along for the ride.
We had a round of appetizers first.
[bbq pork “bahn mi” street tacos – pickled veggies, spicy mayo, micro cilantro]
Jake ordered this one. We had so many little appetizers that I only took a bite but then he made me eat the rest of another one! These little tacos had a wonderful flavor – it was *almost* like teriyaki but not quite. Similar flavors though and the pork was very tender.
[brie & blue grilled cheese / triple cream brie infused with blue cheese and mozzarella]
I ordered this one because if it has a bunch of cheese in it, I must put it into my mouth. Honest.
Especially if it’s brie! Oh brie. I love you so, so much.
This sandwich. Oh man.
So simple and so wonderful. The gooey brie mixed with a little sharp blue was simply outstanding.
Perfectly grilled. Perfectly gooey ooey. Saltiness and creaminess and cheesiness all in one lovely package.
[tomato pesto bisque (comes with the grilled cheese above)]
The grilled cheese was also excellent dipped into this light little tomato pesto bisque. Much lighter and creamier than tomato soup, in my opinion.
I really just liked eating the grilled cheese by itself though. I think I could have eaten about three more of those sandwiches and been totally, blissfully happy.
I really love cheese. Can you tell?
[loaded skins – candied black pepper bacon, caramelized onion, sharp cheddar cheese, serrano salasa]
Frank ordered up these loaded baked potato skins which look totally fancy to me – is it because of the nicely chopped chives? I don’t know. They look like there were assembled to be just so.
I liked it, but it was so match for that grilled brie sandwich, in my little head. Now if these were like, twice baked potatoes then we’d be talking – twice baked potatoes are kick ass. These are maybe two notches below.
[hearts of palm salad – fresh strawberries, hearts of palm, baby greens, crumbled goat cheese with a sweet basil vinaigrette]
Stacey got this hearts of palm salad. I think in a previous life she was a bunny.
She really likes lettuce is what I’m trying to say here. I don’t think bunnies like cheese though, so it’s good that she came back to be human.
I had a little sampling of this and it was very good. I love strawberries in salad. They make me happy for some reason. They make salad less boring, too.
And there’s goat cheese on it! That right there makes it a winner in my book.
[analog organic chai mule – tru organic vanilla vodka, organic jasmine liqueur, chai syrup, lime, angostura, and ginger beer]
I was the only one to get a super fancy Speciality Drink Cocktail Thing(tm).
All I have to really say about this is that it just tasted like a sweet drink and did not taste alcoholic in the least bit. Dangerously delicious.
I will also say that the ginger beer gives it a tiny spicy kick to balance out the rest of the sweetness from the syrup and liqueur. Tasty.
[short rib sliders – spicy tomato jam, brioche bun, shoestring fries tossed in parsley & garlic oil]
This is Jake’s dinner. He went simple and gobbled up the Short Rib Sliders. He’s a ketchup lover and once had some organic tomato jame like stuff at another restaurant and he had hated it, so he’s been weary of “tomato jams” ever since. Luckily he really liked this one though. In the end he thought he would have preferred to get the short ribs alone without the fuss of the bread, but oh well.
I also ate some of his fries. They were crunchy and yummy.
[grilled chicken breast – with quinoa pilaf, mascarpone creamed corn with leeks & pancetta and kale chips]
Frank got the grilled chicken breast. I thought about getting this simply because the creamed corn sounded so good. But then I thought, “Oh my god, it’s just chicken breast, order something else.” I had a bite of his chicken and the creamed corn and I doubted my own dinner. It was really good. The chicken breast was very moist and juicy and full of flavor. The mascarpone creamed corn was creamy and dreamy.
[grilled sterling silver hanger steak – with chimichurri and warm fingerling potato salad]
Stacey got the grilled steak and I have to say, her dinner was the one I liked best of all. The steak was cooked perfectly and juicy and the chimichurri sauce added a wonderful flavor to the steak. Totally divine.
Even her fingerling potato salad was excellent, though I might just think that because it had cheese in it. Please imagine the amount of snickers at the table as the boys discussed the word “fingerling”. Yeah. That happened.
[maple-mustard glazed pork tenderloin with herbed polenta, braised greens and a black mission fig port sauce]
Me? I got this pork tenderloin thing. It had a nice char on the outside and the port sauce is what really made this dish a shining star. I had a few little “dry” spots in my meat, which honestly is a hard thing to overcome when you’re cooking pork. I did enjoy the dish, but I did gaze fondly at Stacey’s dish the whole time.
The herbed polenta was also excellent – wonderfully creamy with a good hint of the herbs it held within in.
There’s no time for pouting on my part though because we’ve still got DESSERT to cover!
[apple-date crisp – asian spiced fennel pollen streusel with ginger-vanilla bean ice cream]
HOW CUTE IS THIS DISH?!
Yes, it totally warranted the all-caps. I mean, it’s a mini dutch oven! How can you not immediately love it?!
The apple-date crisp inside of it was also very charming with it’s asian fennel spice streusel thing going on. It was like the dessert had a savory element to it, giving a hidden layer of flavor to the dish. It was good… but not my favorite…
[nutella dippers – toasted brioche / nutella / orange marmalade / vanilla bean creme anglaise]
Ohhh, nutella. On grilled bread! With creamy vanilla sauce!
Grilled bread was perfectly crisp making the nutella soft and warm.
It makes me wonder why I’ve never just made a nutella sandwich before. I’ve had toast with nutella, but not a full on sandwich.
I think I need to remedy that as soon as possible.
Still not my favorite…
[butterscotch pudding – with chocolate brownie bottom, salted caramel and cocoa nibs]
Oh butterscotch pudding. Where have you been all of my life?
Salted caramel is the first thing to greet you – salty and sweet, it wraps around your tongue, tingling your tastebuds. You dip back into the jar for more and encounter the sweet, buttery, smooth butterscotch and sigh happily as your inner child runs free and giggles with joy. You get to the bottom and encounter the brownie, your smile still on your face as you dig out the brownie with the last bits of butterscotch pudding…
Oh yeah. That was my favorite. Mmmm.
Go. Come eat here. You deserve to be nice yourself.
Disclaimer: Our meal was complimentary and provided to us by the restaurant. I was not paid for my review and all opinions are my own.
801 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101