April 16 2012 06:15 PM

A place worth crossing an ocean for (provided you do so via a relatively short bridge)

leroyscoronado
Photo by Ian Cheesman

There is something oddly transformative about traveling over the Coronado Bridge. It's like a portal to some mythical Pleasantville, U.S.A., complete with bright azure skies and the vague sense that a degenerate like me will be deemed unwelcome by locals. It's the perfect mix of beach weather and social anxiety that compels me to tackle a delicious craft brew.

Leroy's Kitchen and Lounge (1015 Orange Ave.) thwarts Coronado Brewing's beer monopoly of the island with a solid array of 16 taps. It functions beautifully as a lounge with its warm yet muted decor and seating options to accommodate strings of friends, small groups or, my personal favorite, quiet moping at the end of the bar.

I will caution that Leroy's is not an alehouse in the strictest sense. Though there wasn't really a selection among the clearly labeled brews that would disappoint, there was a dearth of informed staff to guide my decisions. Beer at Leroy's is really more part of a comprehensive lounge-bar experience, being one of the many apparent premium intoxicants that might capture your fancy.

The menu is more artisanal than typical pub grub, with a professed focus on local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. It delivered moments of blissful revelry (courtesy of perfectly crisp and light truffle fries) and disappointment (via a soggy pork-belly BLT that somehow managed to wrestle bacon away from transcendence). The portions generally resided between "light" and "sensible," which irked a glutton like me to no end.

Leroy's drink specials are where it truly shines. On top of daily happy hours that discount all beers to only $3.50, the weekly flight night on Wednesday provides three 4-ounce samples for the same. They also offer discounted wine flights on Wednesdays if you swing that way. I tried to convince the manager that they need to offer 4-ounce flights of their fantastic bourbon selection, too, but she gave me that degenerate look I previously mentioned.

Leroy's pulls off lounging with swagger. There's a ton to drink and interesting nibbles, and it's a comfortable destination to sip your nectar of choice. It may be lacking integration as a beer joint, but that's not to say you won't find a fantastic brew there at a surprisingly affordable price.


Write to ianc@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com, or follow @iancheesman on Twitter or read his blog, iancheesman.wordpress.com.

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