Smoked pork loin, Sriracha bacon, smoked sea salt, smoked cheddar, smoked nectarine...
16451 Bernardo Center Drive, San Diego
Passing through Rancho Bernardo, I stopped by a shop known to have a great bottled beer selection and wound up with an incredible lunch spot.
I knew Brothers Provisions shares ownership with Urge Gastropub, so the affinity for beer makes sense, and a decent meal at the shop’s deli counter was to be expected. However, the depth of enthusiasm for all things foodie made me an instant fan.
Were it not for the five or six people in line behind me, I could have stood at the counter for 15 minutes talking the finer points of ginger ale and cold brew coffee with the knowledgeable server behind the counter, and that’s before getting into beer, cheese, and cured meats.
A sense of humor to go with a high sense of food culture
Those last two should have been the focal point of the conversation. The place offers an international array of cheese and some truly remarkable options for charcuterie — Italian prosciutto and the like. I could shop here every day for a month and delight my taste buds every time.
But I only had this one day for starters, so despite some delectable sandwich options such as the House-Smoked Reuben and a Smoked Salmon BLT, I decided to go for a meat and cheese board. Not because I couldn’t decide on a sandwich — though that process could have added another ten minutes to ordering, which must be why a sign about the counter recommends deciding on your order before getting in line.
No, I wanted to try a few different items and taste them each individually. For $16, the Smokey Board called to me. I might be a little obsessed with smoked food items right now, and Brothers has my back on this. The Board consists of smoked pork loin, smoked cheddar, smoked sea salt, and even smoked seasonal fruit. To add to the glory of it, they toss in an interesting nut mix, fresh slices of baguette, and three slices of Sriracha bacon.
Served elegantly on a wood cutting board, it maybe wasn’t the ideal choice for a guy eating lunch by himself, but I dug in. The smoked fruit this day was nectarine, and it didn’t last long. The nuts were well prepared, and not your typical mix. There were filberts, corn nuts (aka hominy), a couple of almonds, and at least two I couldn’t identify.
The smoked cheddar came in thick slices — so thick that I paired them with a baguette because the flavor was easily rich enough to hold up. The Sriracha bacon had sugary sweetness to go with the spice. I’m still not sold on flavored bacon as a rule, but taken between sips of the ginger ale it had its charm.
The real winner was the house-smoked pork loin. The balanced, tender slices were so good that I will definitely return to try it on Brothers’ Cuban-B hoagie, which includes fried chicken and bacon. I can only imagine the house-smoked pastrami will be so good that it ruin me for all other meat.