Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich and tots
3375 Adams Avenue, San Diego
Sycamore Den’s sister restaurant is named after a street in Portland, Oregon.
Last weekend I found myself drinking canned craft beer at an underground synth-pop show in an apartment upstairs from a fabric store on Adams. People at the party seemed pretty energized and were just starting to talk after-party options about the time I got to thinking someplace quiet might be nice.
Could this be what it’s like getting old? I wondered. Nah, couldn’t be that. I was just hungry.
Fortunately, Burnside serves food till 1 a.m. on weekend nights. The new sandwich shop — affiliated with nearby cocktail spot Sycamore Den — didn’t have a huge crowd when I walked in at midnight, but people started to trickle in after I sat down. Perhaps, like me, they’d had too little for dinner and didn’t want to Uber home hungry.
I took my time deliberating over the goofy yet delicious-sounding sandwiches on the menu. Kimchi Jung Ummm promised thinly sliced rib eye and Korean BBQ sauce. Porchetta Cubano advertised pork loin wrapped in pork belly. Bahn Miho offered a take on bahn mi ho with a bowl of pho broth intended for au jus style dipping. But how does a hungry beer drunk ignore the words “buttermilk fried chicken”? Served on a roll with celery-carrot slaw and buffalo dipping sauce, it won the night at nine dollars.
It didn’t, however, come with any sides. I thought about ordering the street fries ($7) topped with ginger aioli and shichimi togarashi, the Japanese condiment featuring chili powder and sesame seeds, but it seemed incongruous with the fried chicken. I went with tater tots instead.
Around the time the food arrived, so did a hungry friend, fresh from the party. He promptly ordered the street fries and bahn mi ho, and we agreed to share.
The “street fries” cost seven bucks
The fried chicken was crunchy, savory, and satisfying. It was the perfect thing to soak up the suds sloshing around my belly. With great hope we received the bahn mi ho. It worked great with the pho dip, but we agreed the $9 sandwich needed a lot more hoisin pork to match the thick baguette it’s served on. The meager portion of meat made the fried chicken seem robust by comparison.
The street fries were creative but a little disappointing. I struggled to remember whether I’d ever encountered ginger flavor potatoes before, and I’m pretty sure the answer is no. Still, you put a large pile of fries in front of a couple dudes on a late Saturday night, and they’re going to disappear.
As good as most of the food tasted, I’m not sure I’m sold on Burnside as a lunch destination. It would help if they included a handful of tots with their $9 sandwiches. But that burgeoning Normal Heights bar scene deserves a late night shop just like this.