Walter Mencken 9:01 a.m., April 29
First Impressions: The Lion's Share
Last month, I was psyched to announce news that The Lion's Share, a craft cocktail lair with a game meat-heavy menu had opened up in downtown's Marina District. The primary fuel for my excitement was the fact the kitchen is being headed by executive chef Lhasa Landry, whose résumé includes stops at Red Velvet, Cafe Chloe, Blanca, and Starlite. Those are some good testing grounds for the type of food — thoughtful, heightened, classic-meets-comfort — she's attempting to put out amid the low-lit den-like environs of her new territory. But promise can only offer so much assurance. I had to check it out in the flesh, and I did on a recent evening excursion.
Though tipples are a primary focus here, I can't comment on the cocktails. I was there to get drunk on food. With an extensive menu including everything from bar snacks to pasta to composed meat dishes and desserts fit for a splurgy luxury eatery, there were plenty of options for doing so. I started out with an order of the potato puffs, spheres of creamy mashed potatoes fried to a crisp golden brown. Sprinkled with fleur de sel and served alongside a tangy malt vinegar aioli, they are the perfect appetizer. Sure, it doesn't seem complicated — we're talking fried spuds here — but these puffs are executed to perfection. Everything about them is spot-on, from their dual textures to their seasoning and the appropriateness and textural interplay of their humble yet tasty condiment. The balance is ideal and the dish one which could easily breed an unhealthy addiction for me if I lived closer to this eatery.
A pair of entrées followed. The first was a nicely presented plate of bourbon-glazed wild boar ribs that were cooked to just the right amount of doneness; a rarity with this protein, which often gets served well over optimal medium-rareness, which converts it to a dry, chewy and largely tasteless mess. The cider-like glaze was sweet, but not so much that it overpowered the boar and the other components on the plate - slaw and sweet potato mash - made for a solid and logical supporting cast. On the other end of the main dish spectrum was the "Animal Style" burger, which I felt compelled to order. With burgers as ubiquitous as they are in America's Finest, all venues' takes must be taken on and treated as a bit of a measuring stick...especially when one is $20, which The Lion's Share's is. So, what do you get in return for a Jackson? Thankfully, quite a bit...and not plain-Jane tomatoes, iceberg, and American cheese. Landry's decadent carnivore's dream piles wild-boar bacon, a runny fried duck egg, smoked cheddar, and crispy shallots atop a hefty grass-fed patty sourced from a ranch in Paso Robles. Each protein-rich bite brings every element into play, making for a solid flavor combo that tastes a bit like a beef-bolstered eggs Benedict. Nothing wrong with that, and, if you're going to shell out 20 bucks on a burger, this would be the one to be fiscally irresponsible on.
After that beast, one might have expectd me to tuck tail and head back to my own lair, but I adhered to the when in Rome adage and went for the lion's share, ordering not one, but two desserts. Both were delicious, but a caramely butterscotch pot de creme topped with a dollop of cream that cut its richness beautifully won out over petite churros with chocolate dipping sauce. I'd have never believed fried dough could be defeated. It's like a zebra putting the ten-count on Mustafa, but lo' and behold, grace came in ahead of the deep-fryer (for once), and created yet another dish that makes me and my scale glad I don't reside in or around the Marina District. The Lion's Share is located at 629 Kettner Boulevard.
image from lionssharesd.com
More like this:
- Luncheon at Pamplemousse Grille — Jan. 4, 2013
- Recalculating The Lion's Share — Aug. 23, 2012
- A Room with a View and Cocktails, Too: Candelas Coronado — Jan. 4, 2012
- The Marina District's Got Game — Dec. 12, 2011
- Gatorburger: Chicken, with Attitude? — June 28, 2011