The sausage — spicy bison that week — isn’t a classic sandwich but a pig-in-a-blanket wrap with puff pastry. It came with a load of condiments, including something like a horseradish cream and, even better, a goat-cheese cream. Both this and the sliders included heaps of almost-meaty french fries (served lukewarm) fried in duck fat. They tasted as if they might be real Idahos, the most flavorful of potatoes. Good stuff, if only they’d hit the table still hot. Servers here are friendly and pleasant but, uh, busy.
Desperately seeking salad, I zeroed in on spicy wild Mexican prawn Cobb salad with large slices of Nueske bacon, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and avocados atop a heap of romaine and slightly bitter purple lettuce leaves. The emphatically spicy Sriracha dressing is a gift to the hard-boiled eggs, not so much to the lettuces. The smoky, thick-sliced bacon ignored the chili content, like a mellow malamute indifferent to the yapping of a nearby Maltese. The shrimp were large and tender enough. Better yet, there were lots of chopped avocados tucked into the mixture — isn’t avo the whole raison d’être of Cobb salad?
My table went with grazes all the way. Later Chowhound posters have raved about the burger and the Thursday-night special of mussels cooked in beer. (I don’t trust their posts as much as I trust Dave, whom I know to have a superb palate.) Those who want a serious entrée can choose duck confit in mushroom broth with udon; rib-eye steak with blue cheese, salad, and fries; pasta; local albacore tacos with mole; and pan-roasted chicken.
Though wondering if we could eat another bite, we were tempted by desserts. These include a figgy bread pudding, seasonal fruit cobbler (with a sort of pancake on top), an exotic boozy brownie, orange-scented beignets with Mexican coco sauce, and gelati with brittle. Our temptation dissipated when we learned that there’s no coffee of any sort, much less espresso, to go with the sweets. I hope that Sessions will live long and prosper enough to buy at least a Nespresso or Illy “pod” machine, taking up little room and requiring no skill at all to turn out a cup or two quickly. Or even the cheaper Senseo, which doesn’t make real espresso but offers compostable pods with a choice of coffees, including a surprisingly rich Sumatra dark-roast.
Sessions Public turns out to be a genuine neighborhood restaurant, in a genuine “people’s” neighborhood (renters, not condo owners), with commensurate easy prices. Best of all is the brave heart behind the menu, offering genuinely fresh new dishes, along with some fresh interpretations of old dishes. Thanks for the great tip, Dave. ■
★★★ (Very Good)
4204 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach, 619-756-7715 (website barely operational)
HOURS: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday 11:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m., Tuesday 5:00–11:00 p.m., Friday–Saturday 11:00 a.m.–2:00 a.m. (including food service).
PRICES: Small plates, $2–$8; shared plates, $8–$15; sandwiches, $9–$14; salads, $6–$14; entrées, $16–$20; desserts, $7.
CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: Gastropub with bold, original dishes, emphasizing grazing plates and sandwiches, with a few entrées. Well-chosen, affordable wine list, many by the glass, as well as craft beers and ales, creative cocktails.
PICK HITS: Alsatian onion tart; beet salad with pine-nut brittle and goat cheese; tempura “chicken oysters”; bacon “lollipops,” sausage-in-a-blanket; spicy prawn Cobb salad. Good bets: Spicy calamari, salt wings, BLT, RLL salad, Thursday-night special of mussels cooked in beer, desserts.
NEED TO KNOW: Next to Catalina Lounge; parking lot around the corner, behind the restaurant. No reservations for fewer than six, so come early or late. Loud music, noisy when full. No coffee. Plenty for lacto-vegetarians, little for vegans. Come as you are.