695 Sixth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
“It makes no sense,” David said as he scowled at the room.
“There’s just no point to having those books haphazardly placed around on shelves. And those meat hooks randomly on that one chandelier when they’re not anywhere else. I hate the cow-hide rug under the table. And that Magic Eight Ball — it’s just kitschy, like they just threw everything together. I mean, there’s a silver horse lamp right here, and there’s a gold-framed cow right behind your head.”
“I get it, you hate the interior design,” I said. “I actually like the hodge-podgey look, the fact that the windows open out to the corner of a busy downtown street, and that fake grass stuff on the patio. I like seeing green. But forget about the décor for a second. Can we talk about the food? The food is fantastic. The last time you enjoyed a cacio e pepe dish this much was at one of Mario Batali’s places in New York.”
“It was Lupa,” David said, smiling now. “And yeah, this version is right up there with my ideal version.”
The simple elegance of the classic cheese-and-pepper dish has always appealed to David, but for years he’d failed to find a version that came close to the flavors he’d enjoyed that first time. He’s always saying, “It’s so simple. I don’t know how they manage to miss the mark.” But here at Double Standard he approved of the house-made al dente bucatini tossed with parmesan, romano, and tellicherry pepper.
Alas, it seems the menu occasionally changes, and David’s cacio e pepe was one of the casualties. But he enjoyed everything else we tasted, including the prosciutto bruschetta with house-made ricotta, mission figs, toasted pistachios, and chestnut honey ($12).
I’m a sucker for a sweet/savory combo, and this bite had the added bonus of several exciting textures, from the crispy crust and crunchy pistachios to the creamy ricotta, chewy bread, figs, and prosciutto.
Another win in the pasta department (all pastas are made fresh in house) was the Spicy Pappardelle Bolognese, with braised short rib and Italian sausage, which is also made in house ($23).
Brussels sprouts are still everywhere, and though I’m slightly fatigued by the trend, we did enjoy sharing Double Standard’s take with apple-cider glaze, bacon, parmesan, and grapes.
“You know, if you don’t like hanging out here, I can always come with friends and bring food back to you,” I said to David as we were leaving.