There's no doubt of the influence that Scot Blair has had on the San Diego beer landscape; so far, he's contributed a leading craft beer bar (Hamilton's Tavern), a beer bar with an equally strong cocktail program (Small Bar) and an award-winning small brewery (Monkey Paw). This weekend, he adds a brewery restaurant to the list with Friday evening's soft opening of the new South Park Brewing Co. at 1517 30th Street, which Blair claims will be his last big project for the foreseeable future.
When deciding what kind of food to do in the 4,800-square-foot space that adjoins Hamilton's Tavern, Blair says he contemplated pizza or deli sandwiches but did not want to step on the toes of Buona Forchetta or Grant's Market. Instead, he settled on a seafood-focused casual eatery, which has been missing from the South Park/North Park corridor since Sea Rocket Bistro closed in late 2013.
Overseen by chef Dustin Harner, South Park Brewing Co. is based on a create-your-own seafood plate concept similar to Blue Water Grill or PB Fish Shop. The restaurant's tagline is "Honest Fish. Thoughtfully Crafted Beer." and the majority of the seafood served here will be sourced from local purveyor Catalina Offshore.
A seasonal selection of fish will be available with a variety of flavors, from brown butter-garlic to beer battered and Asian umami (a housemade unagi sauce), and preparations, including tacos, sandwiches and bowls with seasonal veggies.
The all-seafood menu also includes ceviche, oysters, house-smoked fish, salmon or ahi poke prepared to order and renditions of chorizo and birria made with fish; there will also be a market component retailing fresh seafood and their housemade items.
Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for now, the family-friendly South Park Brewing & Fish Co. was designed in collaboration with Pat Wilkening of Redcraft (Thorn St. Brewery, Station Tavern) to include a wide front patio and a 50-seat dining room with nautical accents, including vintage photos of local fishing life. A tasting bar encloses the 5BBL brewhouse, transplanted from Monkey Paw, where Blair and Monkey Paw brewer Cosimo Sorrentino have a dry-hopped saison, a malt-driven pale ale and Simcoe-hopped extra pale ale in the tanks; in the works are an IIPA and the Scripps Pier Stout, a sessionable oyster stout infused with some bivalve shells and Pacific Ocean water. The 13 taps will eventually hold eight to nine house brews and guest beers.