James Michael Dorsey 1:10 p.m., Feb. 23
An All Island Affair at Leroy's in Coronado
After reading Naomi Wise's assessment of Leroy's Kitchen and Lounge in Coronado, I agree that it's just what the island needed. I read my Reader colleague's dining review mere seconds after exiting the new Orange Avenue eatery. I was there to check out their first ever beer dinner, a five-course affair that brought together fellow Islanders, David Spatafore, and Shawn DeWitt. The former is the owner of Leroy's while the latter is the director of brewery operations for Coronado Brewing Company. Both were on hand for a nearly three-hour event that showcased the best of what both businesses can do.
The menu was built the way any beer dinner bill should be devised — with the chef tasting the individual brews and building dishes around them. The night's offerings drove home the validity of my opinion. The dishes — from a Point Reyes blue-cheese souflée to a beet-and-citrus starter with CBC's apricot-infused Nado Nectar to an oatmeal-in-lieu-of-nuts take on pecan pie served for dessert with Down and Out Stout — found varying yet universally successful degrees of harmony with each other. The night's brightest stars were chicken-fried veal sweetbreads that were so crispy and zestily seasoned they'd drive the Colonel to jealousy and make thymus fans out of even the least offal-inclined (serving them over cheese curd and mushroom gravy-bathed polenta-based faux fries didn't hurt their case, either). The beer that accompanied that dish, Four Brothers Pale Ale, provided a textbook example of hops' ability to cut through fried and boldly flavored dishes to cleanse one's palate.
The other proteins served, duck breast and pork loin, were cooked to perfection and served with accoutrements built off of fresh, tasty produce (heirloom tomatoes, black kale, sweet corn) and beers both new (Barrel-Aged Barleywine, the latest addition to their portfolio) and old (Mermaid Red, the first beer they brewed back in 1996). Service at this communal, family-style event was friendly and efficient; enough so, I'd have thought they'd been at this far longer than just two months. Future beer, wine, and spirit dinners are in the works, as is a prix-fixe beer-pairing menu that will be available during all ten days of San Diego Beer Week. Leroy's is located at 1015 Orange Avenue.
Polenta planks disguised as french fries slathered in mushroom gravy and sprinkled with cheese curds. This ode to decadence is called poutine and was made even more over the top thanks to the addition of some memorable fried veal sweetbreads and Coronado Brewing Company's Four Brothers Pale Ale.