• ON THE MENU:
The Public House is literally a "house" to gather for burgers and brews, but what sets this Village of La Jolla restaurant apart is its shear number of ales from around the world.
Previously home to The Burgundy Grill and Wine Bar, the two-story, red house on the corner of Kline Street and Bishops Lane was first built in 1904 and has been designated as a historical landmark. Proprietors of The Public House are hoping to set their own mark in town since opening in February 2011.
"We have beers from all over the world — basically something for everyone," said general manager Paul Dignam, who also helps run The Public House's older sibling, Encinitas Ale House, which opened almost two years prior to The Public House. "We try to sell things that are good and hard to find in the area." Both are owned by Tommaso Maggiore, who has an eclectic taste in beers, reflected in his restaurants' offerings in both food and drinks.
The Public House's daily, updated beverage list includes 43 Belgian ales on tap, 180 bottle choices from around the globe, selections from local breweries, limited-release microbrews, and a handful of wines.
Not only does The Public House specialize in Belgian ales, it serves them in authentic glassware made specifically by each Belgian brewery. Dignam says it's a big deal in Belgium to serve each beer in its own, branded and specialty-shaped glass. Not too many places in San Diego follow that practice, but The Public House follows the tradition to bring authenticity to the experience.
For those undecided on the restaurant's overwhelming amount of beer choices, it offers a taster's flight with any four ales on tap.
The food menu is also impressive with its rotating selection of meats available for its half-pound burgers. The restaurant gets its beef several times a week from "farm to fork" sustainably-farmed Brandt Beef. Other burger meats, which vary each week, have included bison, lamb, duck, venison, rabbit, and ostrich. Vegetarian-patty substitutions are available.
Its signature dish is a 10-ounce, grass-fed Kobe Wagyu Burger with the meat from Australia's Greg Norman Farms. The hefty burger is served with Gruyere cheese, crumbly gorgonzola, crispy onion straws, tomato and baby greens. The Kobe Wagyu Burger is also available as three, 3-ounce sliders.
Other burger choices include cleverly named burgers: 33.0384-degree N, 117.293-degree W Cheeseburger (longitude and latitude for The Public House location), and "La Jolla Cave" Bootlegger Burger served with hot-whiskey BBQ sauce, crispy onion straws, bacon, and pepper-jack cheese.
The menu is rounded out by gourmet salads, appetizers, sandwiches, tacos, and beer-battered fish-and-chips made from a Belgian ale on tap.
The Public House has transformed the property's living room and porch into indoor dining areas, which are adorned with reflective metal signs showcasing the brands of Belgian ales. What was once the garage is now storage for the beers on tap and hundreds of Belgian glassware. The former driveway and yard is a bar and popular spot for many who prefer the patio and extended bar along the fence, bordering on the sidewalk.
"We keep updating our wide variety of choices to make things interesting for our customers; they seem to like it," Dignam said.
■ The Public House, 830 Kline St., La Jolla
■ Phone: (858) 551-9210
■ Website: the-publichouse.com
■ The Vibe: Casual, lively, comfortable
■ Signature Dish: Grass-Fed Kobe Wagyu Burger
■ Open Since: February 2011
■ Reservations: Yes, for more than 6 guests
■ Patio Seating: Yes
■ Take Out: Yes
■ Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday
■ Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; Closed Monday
• ON THE MENU RECIPE: Each week, you'll find a recipe from the featured "On the Menu" restaurant online at lajollalight.com. This week: The Public House's Kobe Wagyu Burger
1/2 pound Kobe Wagyu beef patty
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1 slice gruyere cheese
1/2 cup arugula
1 tomato, sliced
1 medium onion
1 local fresh brioche bun
Season Kobe beef patty with salt and pepper and then place on hot grill for four minutes. Slice onion thinly and then deep fry in light coat batter (onions can be grilled or caramelized if preferred).
Flip burger and top with slice of gruyere, cooking for further 4 minutes (med-rare). Remove from grill and top burger with grumbled gorgonzola cheese, grilled tomato slices, arugula, and finally crispy onion straws. Place burger on fresh burger bun and serve
Recipe courtesy of The Public House