This column appears on pages 8 and 9 of the July 2012 print issue, which you can download or view here.
A Brassy Business Move — WineSellar and Brasserie adds craft beer to the mix with addition of The Casual Side
As a member of San Diego’s restaurateur community, Gary Parker is anything but green. Red and white are the colors he’s most associated with as the oenophile behind Mira Mesa’s venerable WineSellar and Brasserie.
Originally established as a wine storage, retail facility and restaurant back in 1988, Parker’s baby has matured like an exquisite bottle from Chateau Latour into a fine dining spot, despite being tucked away in an inauspicious two-story business suite. It has enjoyed a healthy foodie following and carries cred as one of the longest continuously operating gourmet spots in San Diego.
Great flavor and quality in an industrial park setting? Sounds like the majority of the county’s craft breweries. With that parallel, it’s fitting that Parker has expanded WineSellar and Brasserie to include a new component, The Casual Side café (9550 Waples Street #115). The space seats 40 and abuts the north end of the first floor wine shop. It features a full bar and wines by the glass, but make no mistake, The Casual Side is focused on craft beer.
The initial bottle list—curated by Shadia Alame, WineSellar’s buyer—is a mixed bag that includes many styles. Germanic lagers from Hofbrau and Weihensetphan share space with English ales from Samuel Smith and Fuller’s; St. Bernardus and Dupont represent Belgium. Local brews are also represented from Mission Brewery and Stone Brewing Company.
The draught list is five-deep, stocked with beers from local breweries that are all within 10 miles. One of those breweries, AleSmith, has two beers on, because their tasting room is a favorite off-hours hang for Wine Sellar’s chef Alfred Fierro.
Dishes prepared at The Casual Side give visitors a taste of the main kitchen that’s won raves for classic dishes like filet mignon with melted leeks and porcini mushroom, and sauced rack of lamb. Fierro and company know their stuff and they’re not dumbing down the downstairs bill of fare one bit. Visitors to The Casual Side can down a pint of Hacker-Pschorr Weisse with house-made duck sausage and braised white beans with spicy mustard and pancetta. The richness of herbed garlic butter coating plump escargots is best cut with a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.
Everyday dishes like bruschetta, flatbreads, paninis, wings, tacos and popcorn are prepared with seasonal ingredients and conceptual twists. The popcorn is gussied-up with truffle salt and truffle oil, while tacos are stuffed with succulent duck confit, house-made salsa and radish salad.
Parker’s foray into craft beer isn’t limited exclusively to The Casual Side; he plans to expand his offerings in the brasserie when he adds more taps later this year. He’s also teamed up with Craft Beer Connect (www.craftbeerconnect.com) to offer patrons suds as part of the Beer of the Month Club.
The Casual Side is open from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, though Parker says that if someone wants a beer, they’re welcome to stop in.
Click below for recipes
12 small red bliss potatoes
2 stalks leeks, thoroughly washed and sliced into 1/16-inch thick rounds
1 pint heavy cream
3 tsp unsalted butter
1 tsp truffle oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp butter
4 large eggs
2 heads frisee lettuce (extra yellow), yellow parts only
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
Place the potatoes in a large pot over high heat filled halfway with water. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the potatoes when they are fork tender, after 8 to 10 minutes of cooking. Strain the potatoes and set them aside. Once the potatoes have cooled, cut them into quarters.
Add the leeks, cream, unsalted butter and truffle oil to a saucepot over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Fold in the potatoes and keep warm.
Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper, and cook them over-easy.
To serve, divide the potato mixture into four bowls and top each with a fried egg. Garnish with frisee and chives and serve immediately.
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
3 Tbsp cooking oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
truffle salt to taste
truffle oil to taste
¼ bunch chives, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
finely grated Parmegiano-Reggiano (optional)
Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy bottom pan or popcorn popper. Add the corn kernels. If using a pan, place a lid ontop, leaving it slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. When the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat or turn off the popper. Transfer the popcorn to a bowl and season with truffle salt. Add truffle oil and chives (as well as pepper and cheese, if desired), toss, and serve immediately.
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 duck legs with thighs attached
½ tsp crushed red chili flakes
1 quart rendered duck fat (or olive oil to substitute)
corn oil for frying
16 miniature corn tortillas
Salsa Rioja (recipe follows)
Radish Salad (recipe follows)
1 lime, quartered
Combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns and chile flakes in a large bowl. Place the duck legs in a small baking dish and cover with the salt mixture. Let stand for 2 hours.
Remove the duck legs from the dish, rinse well and pat dry. Place the duck legs back in the dish and cover with the duck fat. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place it on a stovetop burner over low heat for 4 hours. Remove the duck legs from the fat and let cool. Once they are cool enough to be handled, remove the meat from the bone, shred and set aside.
Add a thin layer of corn oil to a skillet. Add the tortillas and fry, 20 to 30 seconds per side. Remove the tortillas from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
To serve, stack two tortillas and arrange the duck meat in a line along the center of the stack. Spoon salsa atop the duck and top each tortilla with the radish salad. Place two tacos on a plate, garnish with a lime wedge and serve immediately.
1 cup dried Anaheim chiles
½ small yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
4 tsp water
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp paprika
salt to taste
Add the chiles, onion, garlic and water to a saucepan over medium low heat. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the pepper, onion powder, paprika and salt and blend until all of the ingredients are completely incorporated. Serve.
6 red radishes, shaved or thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced
1 handful cilantro, chopped
fresh squeezed lime juice to taste
salt and fresh ground pepper to tatste
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl until completely incorporated.
—Recipes courtesy Alfred Fierro