Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., Dec. 9
El Cajon: Get Stuffed!
Sunrise. Chris Barre. Sitting on top of El Capitan. Lotus position. Could see forever. Noticed how the rising sun appeared stuffed between two layers of cloud.
"That’s it," he said to himself. “Stuffed.” He stood up. Yelled across the valley below.
Or something like that. Chris is the executive chef of the brand-new, week-old El Cajon Brewing Company micro-brew pub-eatery (110 N. Magnolia, between Main Street and Douglas Avenue, El Cajon, 619-873-0221).
I popped in late, around 10:30 p.m. He’s sitting here at the bar, nursing an end-of-shift glass of Merlot.
I’ve just ordered a Belgian Pale Ale ($3.50) made right here in those shiny vats behind the counter, and a Jalapeño stuffed burger ($8.95) with cream cheese, jalapeños and bacon stuffed in the actual meat patty
This is Chris's great "Aha! Moment" invention. Maybe not on El Capitan. Maybe he was making the bed and accidentally left a pillow between the sheets.
Whatever, it could change burgerdom across the planet. Or at least here.
"I suggested to Steve [Meadows, the guy who opened this place last week with his brewer brother Dave]: How's about a '"stuffed hamburger, a burger loaded with a stuffed meat patty?"
Chris's initial idea: the one stuffed with cream cheese, jalapeños and bacon.
"Then Steve came up with the Greek (feta cheese, olives and purple onions), and then we did an Italian, with mozzarella, pepperoni and sausage. People have gone crazy over them."
Steve Meadows runs the place. His brother Dave makes the beer (Now 4 on tap, soon, 8. Total beers on tap: 40).
It must have worked. Chris says the first week has been huge. “We have 324 seats. People have come and filled them all. No soft opening. Too busy too soon, but I’m not complaining. The staff held up incredibly.”
My burger arrives...
Steffani brings my Jalapeño stuffed burger
...just as I see I coulda had "The Ultimate" ($9.95) where they dip your burger in beer batter and deep fry the whole dang thing.
Still this is totally scrumptious. The patty kind of bursts with hot cheese in your mouth. And boy, does it go with the Belgian ale, which, actually, tastes a little wine-ish, now I think about it.
Receptionists Laurie and Danielle say it has been a monster opening week for El Cajon's first micro-brewery eatery
Next time I’ll have to try The Italian, (stuffed with mozzarella, pepperoni and sausage). Mebbe pair it with the the El Cajones IPA. I’ll need the burger: The El Cajones is 7.5 percent.
But you look around, and you can see: El Cajonians are just a little prouder, now they have beers they can truly call their own.