When our local, stinky, iconic D St. Bar & Grill closed Tracy and I sadly wondered where we would go for beer and trivia now. We hadn’t actually been there in years but it was comforting just knowing it was there. Come to find yet another stinky bar and grill was to take it’s place. I wasn’t excited. I didn’t want more bar food. I wanted to stay home. I wanted to stay away.
Our dedicated blogging group of 13 stormed the newest spot only to find out I wasn’t the only one who wanted to stay home and away. The place was empty. And the only thing more depressing than an empty sports bar is the latest news blasting over all of their many TV sets. This was not the light, fun night of blogging we signed up for.
The remodel away from the stinky D St. Bar & Grill is definitely a step up. No more stuffy booths, but instead, lots of long tables to share with your neighbor. And they have lots of fun toys for kids of all ages.
Home & Away prides itself on having top notch food, a boast I was happy to take to the test. The menu is pretty limited, but still offering all your bar-food staples: wings, burgers, nachos and fish tacos. The old gluttonous me would have started with some calamari, ordered something in a bun with bacon and would never pass up on the brussel sprouts. But the new svelter me saw limited healthy choices on this bar menu. Blowing all my hard work on warm buttery rolls and butterscotch pudding at Herb & Sea– worth it. Blowing it on tater tots and burgers here at this bar- so not worth it. I scoured the menu again and saw something promising. Shrimp Ceviche: marinated shrimp in citrus and chilies. I can have that.
A slightly scary tattooed guy with a hole in his ear the size of my car tire, brought out water and chit-chatted with us amicably. (I am sooo old. “I don’t get these kids today I tell you with car tires in their ears by cracky!”) When I told “Mikey” about the blog he seemed very nervous. He was hell bent on doing a good job. It was very cute to see this tough guy turn into a sweet marshmallow who wanted to do nothing but please us.
You order at the bar at Home & Away which seems kind of strange. We were lucky that no one else was there because had there been a line, it would have been a hot mess. They have tables lined up almost right to the register where you order. Doesn’t seem like an optimal design if you ask me. Which no one ever does.
The beer choices were outstanding.
After a few minutes, Mikey slinked over to our table and pulled me aside. “I am soooo sorry, but uh, well…. we ran out of shrimp. There’s no ceviche tonight. We make it fresh every day and we just can’t make it right for you without the fresh shrimp.” I swear I saw a tear drip down his cheek. Before I could answer he said, “You know, my first baby is due in a few months.” Oh sure, stab me in the heart right before I burn you at the stake in my review! What I wanted to say was. “What in all the hell is going on here? I’m blogging about your food, which I need to eat! The only thing I can eat off this fried menu of caloric hell is ceviche! And now you’re telling me there is none? No ceviche? No food for me?!” But after looking at this new dad-to-be’s woeful face I heard myself say, “That’s ok Mikey. It happens. Hey, The Lanai sold out of food like 14 times before we could eat there. No sweat.” Who just said that? Who was this kind, understanding soul who just brushed off the small fact that she couldn’t even eat at her own blog tonight? When I explained there was nothing else I wanted to order, he wouldn’t take that as an answer. And soon, along with everyone else’s food came mounds of tater tots and french fries, on the house. Totally unnecessary but very nice.
Cami ordered pork tostadas. She said it was good, not great, and ended up leaving most of it over.
Most people ordered the 3 Ensenada Tacos for $10. A good price but the tacos are small. Actually, just the tortillas are small, they pack them nice and full. Everyone said they were delicious. “These are excellent fish tacos, and I know my fish tacos.” declared Mary. There’s no opposing Mary, she really does know.
Kelly’s Porky Sandwich looked mighty good to me, did I mention I was starving? But Kelly said it was just “ok”. “The problem”, explained wife, Joyce, “is that it’s just too messy. After your first bite you need to put it down and eat it with a knife and fork. I don’t like sandwiches served on brioche. ” I get what she’s saying. Brioche makes for a very soft roll, not optimum for a sandwich that is saucy. But if I’m being honest, I would have demolished that whole damn soft, delectable, porky sandwich without a complaint in the world if I wasn’t being so damn good!
I was informed that The Wedge salad was tasty but could have used more “stuff” on it. I don’t know, it looked like it had plenty of yummy stuff on it to a very hungry me. But everyone’s a critic!
Little Brandon ordered the Hot Wings with Korean BBQ sauce. Little Man has been here before. This ain’t his first rodeo.
Mikey insisted that I order something to take the place of the lost ceviche so I asked for the Smoked Chicken Sandwich which I would pack up for BP to eat at home. He brought me out a delicious looking sandwich with The Imperfect Salad (another healthy option I could have gone for.) I looked at the sandwich then looked at the salad. BP didn’t really need a chicken sandwich, he already ate dinner at home tonight. I saw mouth watering cheese dripping off the smoked chicken, hitting the fatty, crisp bacon on it’s way down. Or…I could just have the ugly dry salad with vegetables. I lifted up the sandwich brought it close to my lips then yelled at Hubby, “GET THIS THING OUT OF MY FACE!” Hubby quickly snatched it away and put it in a to-go box before I could change my mind. If he were a good husband, he would have done this before I ever saw it. Now I’m mad and it’s his fault. So I was stuck with the salad, which in fact, was really good. Not cheesy- bacony good, but good enough.
After our group ate and had a few beers, we were becoming good friends with not-so-scary in fact, very sweet, marshmellowy Mikey. He brought us all out a shot of Regal Gold Rush. This is bourbon mixed with honey, lemon and grapefruit peel. I thought I didn’t like bourbon but this drink was delicious. “To a kind review!” offered a hopeful Mikey. “No way” I corrected. “To your new baby!” and we all cheered to that!
Then just when you think you’re done and going home….you find yourself drinking more whiskey in an upstairs gay cowboy bar. Yep. That happened.
This upstairs spirits bar is awesome. And by awesome I mean so freaking cool I could just squeal!
Faux cow hide seats. Love.
Actual cowboy attire residing in shelves as our own model, Julie, shows you with these here boots.
A bad-ass lit up sign. LOVE.
The menu offers all kinds of upscale cowboy whiskey
And an homage to The Greats. I don’t even know who they all are…John Wayne I get…but they all look like Greats.
The only thing this bar is missing is the right bartender. And guess who showed up? Matt!
When I tried some of this:
My face looked like this:
That’s because, like I thought before but now know for sure, whiskey is a yucky adult drink. REAL grown-ups drink whiskey, not me!
But when Matt made us a fancy whiskey drink that he loaded up with cinnamon and then lit on fire, it was great! Now here’s a whiskey this cowgirl can saddle up to!
Who knew that we would have one of our most fun night’s blogging ever at Home & Away? Although I didn’t eat much of the food, everyone was impressed and agreed that it was much better than standard bar food fare. A larger menu would be nice though. Even though he already had dinner, when I brought that Smokey Chicken Sandwich home to BP he inhaled it saying it was one of the best sandwiches he has ever had.
I’ve said many times before, it’s not being perfect that get’s a good review. It’s how things are handled when it’s not. Running out of ceviche wasn’t ideal, but the mishap couldn’t have been handled in a more gracious manner. Mikey took care of our group like a pro. We were practically family by the time we left. “Little Mikey” will be calling me “Auntie Kori”.
And the très-cool upstairs was the icing on our cake… or maybe the whiskey in our barrel? Either way, we love love love The Aloha Cowboy bar and can’t wait to go back! Ask Matt for the whiskey-fire-cinnamon-drink-thing. It was fantastic.
WE HAVE OFFICIALLY FINISHED BLOGGING THE 101 IN ENCINITAS! Whoo hoo! We did it! If you hear of any new places coming, please let me know! We will continue to blog anything new landing on/nearish, the 101 in our home town. But until then a major decision has been made.
SOLONA BEACH, HERE WE COME!
Next stop, it’s breakfast this Sunday, February 2nd at 9am at
261 N Hwy 101 Solana Beach
Please join us!