March 25 2013 05:22 PM

Try a little of everything on a menu of comfort food and sweet drinks at new North Park spot

appetite (1)
The chorizo meatball, the quinoa meatball and the crispy polenta
Photo by Marie Tran-McCaslin

I'm one of those people who can't decide what they want for dinner. Soda & Swine (2943 Adams Ave. in North Park) is very kind to the indecisive, with small dishes and a flexible menu that facilitates mixing and matching. It's been generating quite a bit of buzz with a bar paired with an eatery next door. Soda & Swine is the eatery, while Polite Provisions is the bar. You can order from S&S's menu at Polite Provisions, but you can't order PP's drinks at Soda & Swine. Got it?

I'll leave the Polite Provisions drink coverage to Kelly Davis' "Cocktail Tales" and focus on Soda & Swine's food. The menu's centered on meatballs with plenty of sides and a great soda selection ranging from Coca Cola with cane sugar to Reeds Spiced Apple Brew. The meatball "entrées" come as a slider (one meatball), a sub sandwich (two meatballs), à la carte or atop spaghetti (three meatballs). If you're like me, you might want to mix and match the meatballs, which include pork, beef, chicken and quinoa bases. The spaghetti and meatballs and the sub sandwich require the meatballs be the same, so I went for the sliders. Pasta lovers, take note: You can order three meatballs à la carte with a side of spaghetti for the same price ($10), which is a way to have your indecision and pasta, too.

The sliders were simple—a toasted French roll and a lightly sauced meatball in the middle. The chorizo meatball was nicely spicy, with chipotle, while the qui- noa meatball was light and served with feta and pesto; it was a great size for a snack or small meal. The chicken meatball, however, was my favorite. Strips of tender chicken topped with a mushroom cream and provolone, it's great on its own, but even better with bread. There's a beef meatball with marinara and mozzarella, for those who like a classic meatball, and a pork meatball that also comes with chipotle. Even friendlier to the indecisive is the option to build your own.

What I loved best about Soda & Swine's menu was the plethora of small-plate sides for $3 to $5. Trying multiple sides at that price and size make for a minimal impact on your wallet and waistline. The Brussels sprouts were nicely caramelized with a sprinkling of bacon, and the fries were perfectly crisp with a malt aioli. Yet, I noticed a pattern of under-salting with the sides. The Brussels sprouts and polenta were saved by bacon and arrabbiata sauce, but the mac 'n' cheese was pretty bland. Al dente macaroni and perfectly molten cheddar didn't help when there's little seasoning and the cheddar is flavorless. I buried my disappointment in the chocolate coconut soft-serve, which went surprisingly well with the classic apple pie.

Soda & Swine's an eatery that caters to the indecisive and celebrates classic dishes. Enjoy them in a homey setting with communal tables and antique décor or head next door for the same good eats with an amped-up drink menu. 


Write to marietm@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Marie blogs at meanderingeats.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @MeanderingEats.

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