Monday, April 28, 2014

Salt and Cleaver - San Diego (Hillcrest)

Leave it to Cleaver

You never sausage a place!

Welllllllll, actually the d├ęcor wasn’t what drew us in or kept us there. It looked like we walked in the morning after a mini-rave had popped up in a shoebox-sized, open-faced, brick-walled cube and left its sinners in the sunlight, forming a horseshoe of heathens circled around its crude, wooden planked bar acting as the centerpiece, a plasma TV above and a few half-booths squeezed against the walls on either side.

(picture courtesy of Salt and Cleaver)

We decided to take up residence in the tiny corral of outside seating at a distressed metal table and began deciphering their giant chalkboard of microbrews. But I had my sights set on mimosas, ever since the siren song of Sunday brunch had led me here. Salt and Clever (S&C) was all about homemade sausage, and the combinations they were coming up with were enough to make me want to rave too.

Sunday Brunch Menu

Damn it! We missed the $12 bottomless mimosas by 30 mins (arrived at 3pm), but they had already run out…maybe it was because you were allowed to order two, five or 10 at a time! Now that’s my kind of bottomless!

S&C mimosa mixes:
blood orange
passion fruit

*Note to self – arrive at 11:30am sharp next Sunday*

Favorite Links

Duck.Duck.Pig: housemade duck & bacon sausage, crispy duck confit, baconaze, orange marmalade $11
You down with DDP? Duck.Duck.Pig. lived up to the hype. This was on that same elevated hierarchy of Maine lobster or caviar – luxury was the only word that came to mind. But beyond its decadence, I don’t know if I’d ever tasted a sausage whose advertised flavor actually matched the inside stuffing so spot-on. This sausage really tasted like duck! And like bacon! “The schnozberries taste like schnozberries!!”

And my amazement didn’t end there. I’d come to accept that with sausage came grizzle, fat and weird little hard pieces….but S&C had NONE of that!! It was all meat, all day, front to back, top to bottom. Every bite was delectable (and that was very important when dealing with queasy stomachs on a Sunday morn).

The piece de resistance = pieces of crispy duck confit scattered on top. Orange marmalade’s sour and sweet medley played amongst frisee’s refreshing crunch in a bun that fit like a glove (yet another impressive feat) laced with baconaze = bacon mayo.

Ribeye: housemade ribeye sausage, Brussels sprouts, goat cheese, S&C sauce $11
If I closed my eyes, my brain rode the same memory patterns experienced when eating steak – but it was sausage!! S&C was blowing my mind by truly capturing every flavor advertised in their links. This gave new meaning to the word, “tube steak” and the finely diced, raw, Brussels sprouts acted as a less bitter take on sauerkraut. Goat cheese brought the tang, while three, deep-fried, Brussels sprout leaves were placed atop like crunchy, lucky clovers.

Unfortunately the S&C sauce, described as “fancy ketchup” by our server, didn’t add anything, and I was happy to have the horseradish mustard as one of the several condiments on the table.

Warning: Eat the DDP last or else everything will taste bland after its brightness.

Cucumbers chips – fresh cut cucumber slices, lime, spices, side of tzatziki sauce $4

These were the ultimate palate cleanser in between mouthfuls of meat.

Seconds at S&C:
I was already planning my next trip back, and my next order, which would include the housemade fried chicken sausage (sweet and spicy bacon, hot sauce, housemade buttermilk waffles $12), the Machaca burrito (pulled pork, caramelized onions, pico de gallo, sweet peppers, scrambled eggs $10), chorizo loaded fries (S&C fries, housemade chorizo, salsa fresca, guacamole, sour cream $7) and fresh green tomatoes (green heirlooms, lemon juice, bacon relish, roasted panko $6).

Plus they had an entire section dedicated to Brussels sprouts on their regular menu (Mon-Sat) and S&C offered a late night menu (10pm-12am), which included the California Sausage (housemade carne asada marinated sausage, fries, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo $10).

They also had craft drinks like the Abe Froman (tequila, Pimm’s, Cynar, lemon, simple syrup, Peychauds Bitters, muddled cucumber, rocks), build-your-own Bloody Marys, loads of microbrews and clearly, S&C were so generous with the champagne that they partied 'til it ran out.

S&C Sausage Factory
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, their menu’s mascot was a pig with a bowler hat, bowtie and handlebar moustache that exclaimed, “I am a gentleman!” I suggest they start making up T-shirts, pronto. I’ll be there to pick mine up next Sunday when I get there at 11:30am sharp. Feel free to come join me…I’ll be the one with 20 mimosas in front of me.

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