Every time I’ve attempted to try the Encinitas Ale House, it’s been a full house. I took that as a good sign, even though it is an intimate space. My most recent attempt was on a Tuesday night around 8:30 pm and it was the same scenario, packed with people not eager to give up their bar stool or table. This time a deadline loomed and my options were limited so we decided to wait it out. That proved to be a little awkward as our presence was not acknowledged for 10 minutes and then only after we approached a server to inquire as to how long of a wait we were in for. I have no problem with waiting for a table, but it makes all the difference to be approached and maybe offered a drink. We finally ordered up a couple of the 31 beers on tap with another 30 or so in bottles. A Chimay and a Lucifer Golden Belgian Ale which set us back $16.95, yikes. None of the beer prices were posted on the menu so we had no idea that we were paying just over $8 per glass. They were tasty and quite strong, so I guess I need to elevate my beer game and learn to appreciate the quality to help offset the sticker shock of beer at an ale house.
So we get seated and decide to sample their self proclaimed “Locally World Famous Burgers”. That tag line has been with them since they opened so I’m not quite sure how that reputation was established so quickly. Regardless, we decided go for the duck burger and the 10 oz. Greg Norman Farms, Australian grass fed Wagyu Kobe beef burger with melted Gruyere, crumbly gorgonzola, crispy onion straws, tomato and baby greens. I asked the server if she could suggest a couple of beers to go with our gourmet burgers and she did not have a clue. So I got a diet Coke. Note to Ale House, if you are going big on your burgers, it might make sense to verse your servers on some complementary brews to pair with them. I was tempted to call the Queen of Beer Laurie Delk for a recommendation but opted for the soda.
We could definitely differentiate the duck burger as it had a rich, more poultry like texture and a unique flavor. The $16 Greg Norman fancy burger was another story. While it was delicious, moist, and the toppings all worked wonderfully together, they masked the flavor of the meat that I really wanted to taste. Maybe offer a version with fewer toppings to enable the full flavor of the Kobe beef to come through. Kobe refers to cuts of beef from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, raised according to strict tradition in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. The meat is renowned for its flavor, tenderness, and fatty, well- marbled texture. The increase in popularity of Kobe beef in the United States has led to the creation of "Kobe-style" beef, taken from domestically-raised Wagyu crossbred with Angus cattle in order to meet the demand. I’m not sure what the story with Greg Normans beef is, but I would assume it is similar to that raised domestically.
I came back the next day for lunch to try just a regular cheeseburger and at $9.50 it was as good a burger as I’ve had in Encinitas. Both the fries and the onion rings were spot on as well, both complimenting our burger selections nicely. They also offer several other several other specialty burgers priced between $9-$15. Also, I should definitely note that they do offer a Tuesday night 2 for 1 burger night and happy hours throughout the week that offer half off all starters and $2 off all draft beers.
The menu is not all about burgers either. They offer a full selection of starters, salads, pizzas, mussels, fish tacos, and desserts that include a root beer float and a beer float that consists of a Stout or Porter over vanilla ice cream.
The Encinitas Ale House is celebrating it’s one year anniversary that just so happens to coincide with San Diego’s annual beer week from November 5th – 14th. They are holding events every night, check out their website for all the details. Located at 1044 S. Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas. Go to www.encinitasalehouse.com for hours, menus, and specials.<< Back