White bean cassoulet
  • White bean cassoulet
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Ballast Point Tasting Room & Kitchen

2215 India Street, Little Italy

The kitchen at Ballast Point’s Little Italy tasting room unveiled an updated menu last week to coincide with the opening of a monstrous (as-yet-undecorated) patio. It’s not a total replacement of the former menu, but the new dishes are more elaborate, designed to give the place more restaurant credibility.

Naturally, they command higher prices, pushing the per-item cost deeper into the double-digits.

White bean cassoulet

Channeling an amped-up sort of Blind Lady Euro public house chic, BP’s kitchen saw fit to add dishes like steak frites (made with a 6-ounce cut of hanger), cioppino, or a white bean cassoulet. Loaded with sausage and duck confit, the cassoulet would be a great dish for patio-side beer drinking, but BP’s version comes off as insubstantial, not at all up to the task of pairing with Black Marlin as per the menu’s recommendation.

An excellent duck confit salad counters the cassoulet’s sub-mediocrity. Heavily dressed frisée, confit leg, reserved use of blue cheese, brandied cherries, and candied pecans make the salad an unlikely winner.

Duck confit salad

The rest of the kitchen’s dishes seem to fall somewhere between those two extremes. Mussels steamed in beer neither excite nor disappoint. The same goes for a goat cheese tart, which is most notable for using a delicate pastry crust in lieu of yet-another-flatbread, though a boring salad piled next to the tart without ceremony drags things down.

The inexactitude of the kitchen’s execution isn’t hard to understand. BP’s tasting room jams non-stop every night. The cavernous, ridiculously loud space is never going to be a cozy little pub, no matter how quaint they make the menu, and there will always be too many covers for the little kitchen built into the corner. Kicking up the menu is a nice thought, but the Ballast Point tasting room isn’t going to magically become a dining destination. The added expense hurts more than the variety helps. Were the food delicious, on the other hand, it would be a different story.

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