With a name like Bitter Brothers Brewing Company (4170 Morena Boulevard, Bay Ho), one might think it a bit of a standoffish operation and think twice about attending its “family dinner” events. But taking part in one of these affairs is actually rather sweet. Company co-founder Bill Warnke was a professional chef for many years before getting into the beer-biz. Not only does all that experience mean he has chops in the kitchen. It also means he has a vast number of friends in kitchens all over San Diego County. It’s these very taste buds that help make Bitter Brothers’ Family Dinner series so special. Read more »
When one goes out to dine on Convoy Street, they come expecting fantastic dishes hailing from nearly every culinary culture throughout eastern Asia. It’s what this Kearny Mesa thoroughfare is best known for, and rightfully so. No other microbial section of San Diego boasts such a dense and impressive concentration of Asian eateries. I’m used to coming across everything there, from kung pao, kanpachi and kimchee to jellyfish, frog’s legs and chicken intestines. But recently I stumbled upon something undoubtedly American—in fact, I’m relatively certain this satiating wonder could only ever happen in this country—that I immediately knew I needed in my life. Enter the chicken-fried cheeseburger.
Hopefully that paragraph-break provided you sufficient time to pull yourself up from the floor. Just reading those words floored me. It was one of those moments where you wonder how something like that doesn’t already exist. This instinctual query seldom fails to predict a good thing and that was certainly the case with this delicacy, a product of the kitchen team at Common Theory Public House (4805 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa). It was crispy on the outside while retaining all the juicy, meaty mammal-appeal one desires in a traditional burger. Throw on some fun toppings—scallions, horseradish-accented Havarti cheese and an herbed bacon aioli—and epic-status was achieved.
“Our whole approach on food is to create delicious pub-fare with an upscale twist, while providing emphasis on making the dishes pair-able with our craft beers,” says Common Theory co-owner Cris Liang. “The idea behind this dish was to fulfill the craving for a delicious chicken-fried steak, so our twist on this authentic Southern-style cuisine was to create a burger version that could be enjoyed in the palm of your hands. Southern comfort-food and a refreshing beer. What else do you need?”
On the beer-front, there’s plenty to choose from. The beer was actually what led me to check out Common Theory in the first place. (Have I ever mentioned I’m pretty into beer?) I found Thorn St. Brewery’s Got Nelson? India pale ale a great brew for cutting through the richness of the burger, but there were dozens of other beers on-tap that would have fit the bill.
Recent visitors to Convoy have probably noticed that craft-beer has crept its way into the equation for many restaurants, new-and-old. So much that, each month, a promotional event called the Convoy Flight takes place, where a selected guest brewery will put numerous beers from its portfolio on tap at four designated businesses—Common Theory, Dumpling Inn’s Shanghai Saloon, O’Brien’s Pub and SoHo—so guests can enjoy ever-changing pub-crawl experiences.
Craft is big-business on Convoy now, but it actually wasn’t part of the equation for Cris and business partner Joon Lee when they decided to go into the hospitality business.
“Now, everyone knows and feels how important craft beer is, even the non-craft drinkers and the craft beer haters…who will soon be converted anyway,” Cris says with a chuckle. “After a year-and-a-half of searching for a location for a hospitality business, and going through multiple concepts and business plans, a light-bulb went on in my head. My friends and I were always searching for and drinking craft beers, constantly buying different bottles to try at home, spending every weekend visiting breweries. We loved craft beer, craft beer drinking was on the rise, and a space good enough finally became available, so we dove in head-first and here we are celebrating more than two years in business.”
I’m glad they took the plunge into Convoy’s rising pool of quality ales and lagers. More craft beer and a most-decadent and inventive take on the almighty burger are good things .So good that I’ve been thinking about that deep-fried gem ever since having it. Now it’s time to share the dish with all of you—along with the recipe thanks to the generosity of Common Theory. Give it a whirl or roll down Convoy and indulge in the genuine article. Either way, you’ll want to do it with a beer, of course.