Going into the restaurant business can be difficult for any company, especially a brewery. Sure, almost every brewing company venue maintains public space, but a tasting room is a very different animal from a restaurant. There is far more to take into account and different skill sets are required to please one’s clientele. Add in an aspiring brewery-slash-eatery’s desire to have a completely gluten-free menu to match a portfolio of gluten-reduced beers, and things get even more complicated. But that’s what Miramar-based Duck Foot Brewing aspired to when opening its East Village satellite last year.
According to Duck Foot vice president of retail operations Suzy Pessutti, their foray into eats was a success, particularly during baseball season when an influx of Padres fans made their East Village addition into a pre-game hot spot. Still, Pessutti and company thought they could do better by their clientele and recently went back to the drawing board to refashion Duck Foot’s menu concept into one offering “elevated bar food”. In doing so, the company enlisted the assistance of Flor Franco, a consulting chef afflicted with celiac disease. Together, they developed additional menu items that are creative, tasty and in line with the identity refresh.
“We want to lean on naturally gluten-free ingredients, not offer substandard, gluten-free versions of certain dishes,” says Pessutti. “We offer good food that just happens to be gluten-free and works well when it comes to paring with our beers.”
New starters include a kale and quinoa salad with avocado dressing and Peruvian-style shrimp ceviche with avocado salsa and a spicy, citrus sauce. On the heartier side, there are babyback pork ribs sporting a glaze made from Duck Foot’s Drink This or the Bees Die honey ale. But the new addition that best speaks to the new culinary thematic is a large plate of nachos topped with slow-cooked brisket, cheese and jalapeños, plus a chili based on Pessutti’s homespun recipe made with corn and chickpeas, which makes for interesting and enjoyable flavors and textures.
These items join mainstays such as Brazilian cheese bread balls served with chipotle aioli, various sliders (barbecue pork, buffalo chicken), elote (charred corn on the cob) served with traditional lime mayo and crumbled cotija cheese. Mac and cheese can also be had with different proteins and veggies added on. This customizable dish has become so popular that, during San Diego Beer Week, Duck Foot offered a four-course beer-and-mac pairing with four takes: shrimp scampi, pepperoni pizza, mushroom-kale, and apple-bacon with maple syrup. All decadent and, as it just so happens, gluten-free.
Duck Foot East Village is located at 550 Park Boulevard, Suite #2104, and is open from 2 to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 12 to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 12 to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Additionally, a happy hour offering $2 off food and select 16-ounce beers for $5 is offered until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.