Walter Mencken 9:27 a.m., Feb. 27
I'm not a brunch person, and I almost never drink Bloody Marys (unless I'm in Las Vegas, where Bloody Marys are practically a food group). But Saturday I found myself enjoying both at Proper Gastropub in the East Village.
Proper Gastropub, part of the Wine Steals empire, is located in a restored 1912 building along a pedestrian alley off J Street, between 7th and 8th.
They've been serving brunch on Saturday and Sunday for "a couple of months", according to our server. Saturday's drink offering is a half price Bloody "Queen" Mary ($5), Sunday's brunch features endless Mimosas for $10. It's served on the upstairs deck, overlooking Petco Park.
I order the B"Q"M, and John gets a Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA ($6/20 oz). Our server says they're out of the IPA, but he'll check the downstairs bar, and quickly returns with our drinks, the IPA is there.
My Bloody Mary has visible hunks of black pepper and horseradish floating in it, a good thing, and a large skewer with a pickled onion, grape tomato, pepperocini, and a piece of sausage, topped with the Union Jack. Cute. It's a good, strong drink, with enough spice to clear my caffeine-deprived head.
We have just enough time to enjoy our drinks and chat with our server a bit when our food arrives. I'm having the Chilaquiles ($9), white corn tortilla chips, topped with spicy ranchero sauce, red onion, two over-easy eggs, cojita cheese, and sliced avocado.
The chips are not at all greasy - fresh and crisp where they're sticking out, tender and yummy where the ranchero sauce and perfectly cooked runny egg yolk gets to them. There are lots of pieces of softly cooked sliced garlic and jalapeño throughout the sauce, and a hint of a warm, slightly sweet spice I can't identify. The cotija cheese provides plenty of salty, sharp balance to the rich egg and avocado. I clean my plate so well that our server observes, "I can tell you didn't like that."
John ordered the Gastro Chips ($10), Kennebec potato chips (fries), braised meat and sauce of the day (today it's duck), a shower of cheddar and gruyere cheese, chive garnish.
It's Proper's riff on carne asada fries, and it's delicious. Fries are standard cut, hot and crispy, there's a huge portion of duck, with tender, juicy chunks under the cheese and lots of frizzy burnt ends where the broiler hit it. There's no visible sauce, but the duck juice provides plenty of moist goodness.
I steal as many pieces of it as I can before John pulls the plate out of my reach. It's a large portion, we end up taking enough home to make a nice side dish with dinner.
Proper Gastropub 795 J Street San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 255-7452 http://propergastropub.com/
Hours: Monday 4:00pm-10:00pm Tuesday Closed Wednesday Closed Thursday 11:00am-11:00pm Friday 11:00am-1:00am Saturday 11:00am-1:00am (brunch served till 2:00pm) Sunday 10:00am-9:00pm (brunch served till 2:00pm)
Credit cards accepted
Children's menu available ($5.50, under 12)
Need to know: Proper Gastropub is on the pedestrian walkway off J Street, near Petco Park (between 7th & 8th).