4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Liberal Bastion

Place

Au Revoir

420 Robinson Avenue, San Diego




The first place I ever ate a Snickers bar with a knife and fork? Right here. Tonight. At Neal's place.

It's a tiny sliver of a joint up in Hillcrest, across from the Crest Café. "The Wit's End," it says. Brick, white stucco, a green awning. Coming from inside is that burble of conversation and laffs that tells you they've got something going on here.

So, hey, I moseyed in under the little green awning. And realized that I'd been here before, back when it was the Sui Shin, a Japanese teahouse sushi place. Reds, golds, blacks, bamboos, a raised table-platform in the back for tea ceremonies, ceilings hidden by tented goldy-red drapery. Very cool.

The drapery is still here, the tile floor, the gold metal "bamboo" chairs still all lined up at what used to be the sushi bar, but the rest of is all pub. People downing pints of red beer, eating and yakking at tables. A sign advertises "a hundred beers from around the world!" and a Homer Simpson Chia-head is trying hard to sprout green grass hairs inside a plastic-bag "hothouse" on the bar. Near the front door, a rubber chicken hangs by its neck with a sign: "No Solicitors."

I sit down at the counter. Ooh. I see Red Trolley Ale is on tap, along with Stone and other good local brews. Behind the counter, a guy sets a dumbbell weight on top of a hinged sandwich toaster to keep it pressed down. Mad TV is onscreen, doing a number on George W. Folk music plays on the system. I notice the tea-ceremony table, where you used to sit cross-legged in Sui Shin days. Now it's full of people eating and talking. I order up a Stone Pale Ale. Not cheap. Four bucks, but I love the stuff.

I flip the menu to the food side. It's a big page of appetizers, soups, salads, omelets, sandwiches, rice bowls, and desserts. A lot, for a café-pub.

"It's the Menu that Grew," says Neal, the sandwich-presser. He's also the owner. He also owned it when it was Japanese. "Sui Shin never quite took off," he says. "We called it quits about 18 months ago. Reopened as this pub, café-style, but with a serious attitude toward beers. There's no other place like us around here. But we started without a name. Just couldn't think of anything. I was at my wit's end when my wife Laurie said, 'That's it!'"

He says he "limped along" through the summer of '04, then with the presidential election heating up he started showing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His satellite feed brought it in three hours ahead of cable. "Suddenly we had something going here. We became a bastion of liberal values! It's never stopped. Come any night at eight, the show's on, the regulars are here."

He leaves me to the menu. Oh, man. Everything's within range. Six, seven bucks. Looks honest. Like, they have "today's soup" and "yesterday's soup." The bowl's $4.75 for today's, $4.45 for yesterday's. The pot-roast hot sandwich with horseradish and au jus is $6.45. They have vegetarian sandwiches too, but I kind of like the look of the rice bowls. Teriyaki beef or chicken rice bowl is $6.45, pesto chicken or beef is $6.65, and the one that really sounds outstanding is the beef or chicken stroganoff bowl, "creamy stroganoff with mushrooms and onions, $6.95."

On the other hand, there's this weird afterthought. "Gary's Bowl." Get this: "Rice, meatloaf or pot roast, covered with your choice of soup. $6.95."

Uh-huh. Weird.

"What's going to fill me most?" I bleat, as usual, when in doubt. "One of the omelets," Neal says. Yes, they serve them all day. The "Mexican" comes with onion, avocado, cheddar, salsa, sour cream, and steamed rice, or toast or green salad, for $6.45. "Guaranteed to fill you," he says.

And what's up with "Gary's Bowl"?

"Gary's my older brother. He just concocted that. Lots of these dishes are from customers' ideas."

That does it. I go for Brother Gary's bowl, meat-loaf version. It comes with today's soup, chicken tortilla. So, like, thar she blows, the big block of meatloaf, submerged in this mess of potage, tasting like something grandma might whip up for you.

But we're not through with weird yet. Fifteen minutes later I'm looking at desserts. A "mini ginger crème brulée" is $3.50. So is the root beer float.

Then you've got "Snickers Bar Seinfeld-style, $1.50."

Well, you know I'm going to pick the $1.50, no matter what.

The Snickers arrives on a big plate with big heavy stainless knife and fork. People are looking.

"Don't worry," says Neal. "They all understand. This comes from the Seinfeld episode where George is trying to impress his employers. He's at a New York Yankees boardroom luncheon and eats a Snickers bar with his knife and fork. 'How do you eat yours?' is his famous line. Soon everybody's doing it. Quite an episode."

I slice away. It feels pretty, well, civilized. I leave humming, "These are the days, my friend..." 'Cause this is the kind of place where you'd look back through the window and remember a whole chapter of your life passing inside. If only you could have it about a block away from home.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Black Lives Matter denounces Sea World’s new Sesame Place as White Supremacy

Placism
Next Article

Remembering Louis Procaccino

“He always had food in his pockets”
Place

Au Revoir

420 Robinson Avenue, San Diego




The first place I ever ate a Snickers bar with a knife and fork? Right here. Tonight. At Neal's place.

It's a tiny sliver of a joint up in Hillcrest, across from the Crest Café. "The Wit's End," it says. Brick, white stucco, a green awning. Coming from inside is that burble of conversation and laffs that tells you they've got something going on here.

So, hey, I moseyed in under the little green awning. And realized that I'd been here before, back when it was the Sui Shin, a Japanese teahouse sushi place. Reds, golds, blacks, bamboos, a raised table-platform in the back for tea ceremonies, ceilings hidden by tented goldy-red drapery. Very cool.

The drapery is still here, the tile floor, the gold metal "bamboo" chairs still all lined up at what used to be the sushi bar, but the rest of is all pub. People downing pints of red beer, eating and yakking at tables. A sign advertises "a hundred beers from around the world!" and a Homer Simpson Chia-head is trying hard to sprout green grass hairs inside a plastic-bag "hothouse" on the bar. Near the front door, a rubber chicken hangs by its neck with a sign: "No Solicitors."

I sit down at the counter. Ooh. I see Red Trolley Ale is on tap, along with Stone and other good local brews. Behind the counter, a guy sets a dumbbell weight on top of a hinged sandwich toaster to keep it pressed down. Mad TV is onscreen, doing a number on George W. Folk music plays on the system. I notice the tea-ceremony table, where you used to sit cross-legged in Sui Shin days. Now it's full of people eating and talking. I order up a Stone Pale Ale. Not cheap. Four bucks, but I love the stuff.

I flip the menu to the food side. It's a big page of appetizers, soups, salads, omelets, sandwiches, rice bowls, and desserts. A lot, for a café-pub.

"It's the Menu that Grew," says Neal, the sandwich-presser. He's also the owner. He also owned it when it was Japanese. "Sui Shin never quite took off," he says. "We called it quits about 18 months ago. Reopened as this pub, café-style, but with a serious attitude toward beers. There's no other place like us around here. But we started without a name. Just couldn't think of anything. I was at my wit's end when my wife Laurie said, 'That's it!'"

He says he "limped along" through the summer of '04, then with the presidential election heating up he started showing The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His satellite feed brought it in three hours ahead of cable. "Suddenly we had something going here. We became a bastion of liberal values! It's never stopped. Come any night at eight, the show's on, the regulars are here."

He leaves me to the menu. Oh, man. Everything's within range. Six, seven bucks. Looks honest. Like, they have "today's soup" and "yesterday's soup." The bowl's $4.75 for today's, $4.45 for yesterday's. The pot-roast hot sandwich with horseradish and au jus is $6.45. They have vegetarian sandwiches too, but I kind of like the look of the rice bowls. Teriyaki beef or chicken rice bowl is $6.45, pesto chicken or beef is $6.65, and the one that really sounds outstanding is the beef or chicken stroganoff bowl, "creamy stroganoff with mushrooms and onions, $6.95."

On the other hand, there's this weird afterthought. "Gary's Bowl." Get this: "Rice, meatloaf or pot roast, covered with your choice of soup. $6.95."

Uh-huh. Weird.

"What's going to fill me most?" I bleat, as usual, when in doubt. "One of the omelets," Neal says. Yes, they serve them all day. The "Mexican" comes with onion, avocado, cheddar, salsa, sour cream, and steamed rice, or toast or green salad, for $6.45. "Guaranteed to fill you," he says.

And what's up with "Gary's Bowl"?

"Gary's my older brother. He just concocted that. Lots of these dishes are from customers' ideas."

That does it. I go for Brother Gary's bowl, meat-loaf version. It comes with today's soup, chicken tortilla. So, like, thar she blows, the big block of meatloaf, submerged in this mess of potage, tasting like something grandma might whip up for you.

But we're not through with weird yet. Fifteen minutes later I'm looking at desserts. A "mini ginger crème brulée" is $3.50. So is the root beer float.

Then you've got "Snickers Bar Seinfeld-style, $1.50."

Well, you know I'm going to pick the $1.50, no matter what.

The Snickers arrives on a big plate with big heavy stainless knife and fork. People are looking.

"Don't worry," says Neal. "They all understand. This comes from the Seinfeld episode where George is trying to impress his employers. He's at a New York Yankees boardroom luncheon and eats a Snickers bar with his knife and fork. 'How do you eat yours?' is his famous line. Soon everybody's doing it. Quite an episode."

I slice away. It feels pretty, well, civilized. I leave humming, "These are the days, my friend..." 'Cause this is the kind of place where you'd look back through the window and remember a whole chapter of your life passing inside. If only you could have it about a block away from home.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Five from the Fourth Annual Joyce Forum Jewish Short Film Festival

Short and sweet and sour
Next Article

Why did Faulconer get so much cash from farmers and oilmen?

San Diego looking to replace Patton Boggs as D.C. lobbyist
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close