Poway is that semi-rural, upper-middle-class, athlete enclave in San Diego County that has a friendly, rustic charm but very little in the way of restaurants with a wow factor. Company Pub & Kitchen is trying to bring the humble-yet-sophisticated feel that defines a gastropub to this corner of the county, and it gets points for coming close.
There's a British vibe to things, but with enough of an American sports-bar twist that you won't be looking for a snug to hunker down in with a pint. Company (13670 Poway Road) is open, bright and friendly, with a large patio and a staff with big, welcoming smiles.
Definitely start with the Company Chips—fat, thick-cut fries perfect for dipping in curry sauce or plain old damn-it-I'm-American ketchup. These chips, made in-house, are basic, solid and just plain tasty.
I tucked into two dishes that had sausage as the star. Our table decided to start with the Quack Mac 'n Cheese, and at the risk of sounding like a pretentious food writer, I really don't need to try another version of loaded macaroni and cheese with bacon / duck / lobster / antelope / baby seal. We get it. Mac and cheese is delicious. But get over it, people. It's not that difficult or creative a meal to make, serve and overload with crazy, meaty nonsense. (Peer pressure made me order it, I swear!)
All that griping and grousing out of the way, I did enjoy the spicy bacon and duck sausage that topped the cheesy ramekin of pasta. It was lean yet rich and enjoyable alone or with a mouthful of noodles.
Since management at Company is British, I had to go for the bangers and mash, another humble, no-frills dish that always pleases. The sausages, roasted tomatoes and smooth, buttery potatoes were all delicious and well-cooked and -plated. My gravy had the look of being under a heat lamp for a while, but I found myself so delighted by eating bangers and mash in Poway that I looked past what was, hopefully, just a lapse in service.
I assumed that Company's links came from Bisher's Meats, literally right next door in the same shopping center. Nope, not at all. The duck sausage does come from a local purveyor, but the "bangers" come from Cisco Foods. They were tasty, and I certainly can't speak to how or why a restaurant makes the food alliances they make, but I found it baffling that Company sits right next door to one of the better butchers in all of San Diego County yet doesn't highlight its meat as part of the menu.
I find myself cheering on small, neighborhood establishments like Company Pub & Kitchen like a mother cheering on her child who clearly isn't the best at sports. "Look at you! You caught a ball with your hands instead of your face! Ice cream for everyone!" Call me Pollyanna, but I'm rooting for everyone, and I grade on a curve. Company Pub & Kitchen might not be perfect, but when in Poway, it's still where I want to hang out and eat chips.
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