Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Counterpoint: No BS Brussels Sprouts
Ed's search for the best sprouts in town reaches a high point on Golden Hill
Most popular spot on Golden Hill?
Has to be here, just about opposite the fire station.
Counterpoint (830 25th Street, Golden Hill, 619-564-6722), is, a kinda boxy-modern place between Broadway and the 94 freeway.
But walking past about 5:30 in this sun-flooded evening (and aren't they all, up here?) the place is packed. Stacked, outside and in.
"Happy hour?" I ask this guy in the pork-pie hat. Ben.
"You're good for half an hour," he says, and lists off a bunch of cut-price drinks.
"No happy hour deals on food," he says. “Just $3 wine and beer specials.”
Dang. But seeing I'm here, and seeing it's such a scene...and seeing as how they have a few single-figure eats on the menu he leaves, guess I could try.
I settle onto the last free stool at the stainless steel bar counter. Hmm. Yucca fries, $9. Mac and fries, "goat + blue + orecchiette" – huh? Turns out it’s Italian for "small ear," type of pasta - $8. Or bacon-wrapped dates with blue cheese and spicy bitter chocolate, $5.
But I end up getting the first thing on the list, Brussels sprouts (with "kimchee + salt + chive") $6.
The price is what draws me, of course, but also I’m crazy for this craze for sexed-up Brussels sprouts. The first, and greatest, was at South Park’s Vagabond (now morphing into the Belgian-style Brabant Bar & Café). Theirs were done with bacon, lemon and pecorino Romano cheese. Oh man. Beautiful. Or was it first time’s the charm? Now I gotta see.
On the other hand, the couple next door is eating tacos. Michelle, Dave.
"They're really really tasty," says Michelle. And she should know. She’s eaten everywhere from Singapore to Tokyo to spots across the States. I check the menu. Think she’s talking about the braised pork carnitas with kimchee sauce, cotija cheese, pickled red onion and apple butter, $9 for two.
I suddenly remember to order a beer in time for happy hour. Get a Mad River Extra Stout (from up Humboldt County way), and dee-lish it is. Kinda sweet, which I love every now and then, in contrast to all the hoppiness that I’m used to. Usually $5, now $3. Deal.
Michelle and Dave are into grilled salmon ($16)...
...and pan-roasted chicken breast ($15)...
...by the time Brittney the barista lays out a (nice tan, real leather) table mat and brings my sprouts in one of those paddle-shaped china skillets.
I start chomping into my sprouts.
And, have to say, easily as good as Vagabond’s (same price too). But these sprouts are disguised in a kimchee sauce, the whole Korean thing of fermented cabbage, soy, chili … they're salty and citrusy in a rich and addictive way. I end up downing every sprout – grandma would be patting me on the back about now, except these are nothing like he ghastly steamy things – and the thing is, these succulent suckers are so-oo filling.
Counterpoint has been here about three years. Guess they must have been pioneers in the gentrification of Golden Hill. Suddenly this place is becoming a destination. Must come back in the morning sometime when the sun shines right in the patio. Maybe next weekend. I hear their weekend brunches are great.