815 J Street, East Village
The back patio of Southpaw Social Club, in the East Village, is the Park at the Park at Petco, so the place is probably hopping during the 81 games played there during baseball season.
The other days of the year, it has more of a neighborhood bar feel, and that’s fine with me. I like to hear myself eat.
Like practically every bar these days, Southpaw strives to have a big beer selection, including plenty of local favorites. To be fair, I always feel like I have to warn my waiter.
“I want to support the local beer scene, but do you have any good beer that doesn’t taste like a hoppy hairball is lodged in my throat?”
The waiter suggests the Coronado Orange Wit, which is smooth and light, but with a fruit-forward flavor that, to me, is unusual for wheat beers. Nice.
My nephew prefers those hairball brews (he also likes loud, heavy rock) so he’s in love with the Dogfish Head 90-Minute Imperial IPA. With nine-percent alcohol content, he’s enjoying his buzz.
The homemade pretzel sticks are a good starter, especially with the house-made smoked cheddar cheese sauce. I prefer as much salt as possible on my pretzels (and there's not as much as I’d like here at Southpaw), but the fried jalapeños on the side are a highlight.
The strawberry and candied walnut salad deftly combines a citrusy bleu cheese vinaigrette with greens, including cabbage and basil, and candied orange zest. Just enough dressing to add flavor without drenching it.
The meatloaf sandwich with bacon jam comes highly recommended by the waiter. Especially because of the bacon jam oozing over it and dripping down the sides. Fine with me. Bacon is, at heart, a food of excess.
I tend not to trust meatloaf that is too neatly sliced because I fear it’s been processed.
Although the meatloaf does look like it’s been premade and prepackaged like the fake gyros at low-rent Greek restaurants, it doesn’t taste that way. It’s meaty and moist throughout. The bacon jam, while having a great mouth feel, has a flavor more like caramelized onion than bacon.
My nephew doesn’t eat meat and ordered “The Wild Shroom,” a flatbread with roasted wild mushrooms, prosciutto, mozzarella and reggiano cheeses, peaches and roasted garlic. He asks for it without the prosciutto.
Guess what? It comes back WITH the prosciutto. The waiter is apologetic, and brings him fries with onion and jalapeños instead. They are tasty and I eat most of them, despite having finished most of the salad, pretzels, and meat loaf sandwich.
Would I go back? Probably, for the meat loaf and the pretzel sticks. I don’t know how busy it gets during baseball season, but I liked the vibe when it just had a few people and an acoustic guitar trio in the background.