Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
A Taste of the UK in...Poway?
Over the past few months, I'd caught some of the Twitter twerp buzz from North County inland residents about a new restaurant opening up in the former site of Miami Grille in Poway. The coming soon sign proclaimed the midsummer arrival of Company Pub and Kitchen. Powegians (no, I didn't make that word up) craving something new from their semi-stark resto scene were excited about an added dining option. When I heard they'd open, I rushed online to see what I could expect, but alas, their webpage is just that — a single page with minimal text giving zero inkling of what their menu offerings are. Clearly, a field trip was in order.
Last week, I headed east and meandered in to discover a large space with a pleasant aesthetic — good color, nice wood accents, some quirky yet appealing overhead light fixtures (renovated holdovers from Miami Grille) — that's split in half into a full-service dining room and a separate bar area. Despite the country music loaded up on the jukebox, Company has a notedly British identity. The owners are both from the UK and grew up frequenting pubilc houses, drinking Newcastle and eating classic pub grub. Given that, I went against my usual mode of operation (free and random food selection) and asked them which dish on their menu reminded them of home. The answer was immediate: the Mussels Mouclade.
Mussels are ubiquitous in SD these days (if I hear Carlsbad Aqua Farms one more time!) and most preparations tend to be a bit uninspired. Moules frites is about all you see, but at Company, they bring in what they refer to as the UK's national cuisine — Indian — by serving their mussels in a curry that's layered with a myriad of spices and is extremely flavorful. Very mild, it's the type of curry that, rather than blow you away with spice, keeps you coming back long after all your mussel shells are empty. I, for one, was glad to have plenty of herbed flatbread triangles to sop up the excess sauce. Curry sauce also rears its head as one of variety of condiments served with the Company chips, girthy planks of deep-fried potato (a long-winded way of saying big French fries) that have nice texture and go well with the curry as well as a gravy and very garlicky aioli. Company Pub and Kitchen is located at 13670 Poway Road.