Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
How’d I end up here?
I zoned out on the 904 bus, the one that trolls Coronado island and takes you to the ferry.
That's where I had been heading. Except I dozed, and ended up outside this hotel.
“This is the end of the line, sir,” said the lady driver.
“Lord. When do you start back?”
“Tomorrow, sir. This was the last run.”
OK. Guess I'll have to use Shanks's Pony. Feel like a good walk anyways.
Then I think: Six o’clock, Gonna need a little fuel for this.”
So now I’m inside this low, woody-modern Marriott Coronado Island Resort (2000, 2nd Street, Coronado, 619-435-3000).
Looking for…aah. Sign, in front of the bar area before you walk out onto a large patio with a beautiful view of the bay and the bridge.
“Happy Hour, Tides Bar, 5-7pm Daily,” says this sign with a photo of a blue cocktail on it.
I kinda want to go out on the terrazza so I can catch the bay, the sunset, whatever, seeing I'm here.
But Mike, the guy at the door, says you have to eat in the dark bar area, dammit. Except he says it in a way that they wouldn’t send the heavies if you did sneak out with your beer.
So up at the bar, the deal is $3 off anything on the bar menu, $5 draft beers, including Stone, $6 house wines. I know I’ve got a Jackson in my pocket, so I’m not panicking.
Rudy, who tells me he's been here for 20 years, ever since the days when this was Le Meridien, a classy French hotel, gets me a Stone IPA and a menu.
And there’s quite a HH menu. A cheese plate, seasonal salads and flatbread pizzas are $7 each (after the $3 off). “Our famous corn chowder” goes for $5, and buffalo wings are $7.
Some things are more up there, like their bacon cheeseburger ($11), and their crab and shrimp Cobb salad ($15). So I decide for the flatbread, whatever toppings it’s got, and the chowder. With the Stone IPA and tax, it comes to $17.93
And the chowder is worth every centavo. Damn, it’s good.
Mike, who’s the food and beverage manager, turns out...
Mike (right) with Rudy
...says it’s made from scratch right here, from roasted corn, onions and other stuff which the chef kinda zips up in a saucepan before adding it to the soup.
But the champ has to be the flatbread.
I’m surprised, ’cause bits of sausage on dough has never given me chills. But this is fresh, zingy-hot with peppers, and looks really colorful too. Mike says the chef Fernando kinda invents the flatbreads as his whim goes. Today he put in sausage, chicken, red and green bell peppers, two cheeses, onion and marinara. Sounds pretty standard but dang it’s good.
And how much of a deal? Angela and Jeri are having a cocktail next to me after eating outside on the terrace. “I had mahi, Jeri had a chicken ciabatta. No wine,” says Angela. "We paid around $70 for the two of us."
Not that price worries Angela right now. She’s from Victorville. Her company up there is Southern California Aviation, on a leased section of the Air Foce base.
Basically she runs a foster home for unwanted jets. “We store planes for airlines when their business is slow,” she says. “We keep them mothballed, but always ready to use again at, like, a week’s notice. So business is good for us right now. Airlines’ downtimes are our uptimes.”
Whatever, pricewise for me, pays to stay indoors.
But I’ve got more than enough: What with the corn chowder and the beer, I’m running out of gut space. Gonna have to put some of this pizza in mothballs.
And here’s the part I like: they let me pack the half of the flatbread I can’t finish so I can take it back for a midnight snack with Carla.
Lot of places, they look at you funny if you want some of your bargain food to go.
My biggest temptation? To toss pizza bits at the (real!) flamingos in the pool outside.
Lucky for me, there’s a security guy nearby looking at you like he’s a living sign:
“Please don’t feed the flamingos.”
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