Ian Anderson 5 p.m., March 23
The official grand opening is over and done with and the New Zealand themed bar and restaurant in Ocean Beach is up and running at full steam.
It's a bit unassuming on the outside. With its plain, wood facade and understated sign, it's easy to walk right past Raglan as twilight falls on OB. Being off the main drag of Newport Street is cool, though, and the atmosphere on the patio is more peaceful than if the place were just a block away. As far as patios are concerned, Raglan's is a good one. Even on a chilly night, sitting up against the wall makes good use of the brand new heaters that throw plenty of warmth to keep away the clammy ocean breezes.
Raglan is the kind of place that would be OK to go to and just drink from the great draft beer selection that mixes a few novelties in with a host of California craft brews. It has 24 taps and a beer engine for pouring cask beer, so the selection is always going to have something for everyone. Drafts are $3 to $7.
The bottled beer and wine list is there, but the focus is definitely on the tap list and that's not a bad thing. For a beer bar, bottles and cans should be reserved for rarities and oddball brews. The wine list is notable for containing the majority of the New Zealand and Australian sourced drinks on the menu, none of which exceed $10 per glass.
Raglan has some suggested beer mixers on the menu as well. When the weather gets warmer, trying out a Shandy (beer and 7-Up) is going to be an absolutely great idea as that drink is absurdly refreshing and mild enough to drink lots of.
The food is definitely pub food, no bones about that. Raglan has three different kinds of fries: skinny, fat, and sweet potato. The sweet potato fries ($4.99 for a small, $6.50 for "Kiwi size") are excellent and come with plenty of blue cheese crumbled on the top. One very nice detail is that the fries and cheese are thoughtfully layered in the paper cone so that there's cheese for every fry.
As classic a pub dish as ever there was, fish n' chips ($12.99) is chunks of cod coated in beer batter and served with thick-cut fries, malt vinegar, and tartar sauce. Delightfully oily and raging hot, the fish is a killer accompaniment to an ESB, lager, or some pale ales. It's also the only item that comes with its own fries, so anyone looking to share gets enough food to go around.
Burgers ($9-$14) are a huge part of the menu. Raglan uses organic beef and bakes their bread in-house, which is undeniably classy and explains the relative costliness of the sandwiches, none of which come with sides. They are also quite hefty, enough that the "Gnarly Big Burgers" designation on the menu is justified. All the beef burgers can be switched out for veggie burgers as well.
Seemingly a popular specialty of the house, a lamb burger ($12.99) gets blue cheese, mint sauce, beetroot, lettuce, tomato, onion, chutney, and aioli on it. Eating it is a hot, messy affair. Be warned. Worth the trouble though, especially since the kitchen isn't scared to serve the burger rare. And by rare, we're talking cool to the touch and bright red on the inside. Lamb's ostensibly safe to eat raw, but it doesn't really taste like much without the benefit of the lMaillard reactionl to generate some novel flavor components.
This is a seriously good burger, and Raglan is a serious contender for a good place to hang out, throw back a few beers, and sink the teeth into some bar food.
Raglan Public House
1851 Bacon Street
Open daily 11-11
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