A few friends have taken to calling the newest East Village eatery "The White House." Far from presidential, the new spot is an Irish brew pub called Half Door Brewing Company (903 Island Ave.). It does have a shiny white coat of exterior paint, and certainly exudes the feel of a historic, important place.
The 4,000-square-foot wooden house dates back to the 1900s. It's situated at the corner of Ninth and Island avenues, just two blocks from Petco Park. Half Door has quickly gained a following among downtown locals, and is sure to be jamming on Opening Day for the San Diego Padres, as well as home-game days and nights all baseball season.
Half Door is owned by the Drayne family, which has operated The Field Irish Pub for nearly 20 years in the Gaslamp Quarter. Siblings Stacy and Dan Drayne are overseeing operations at Half Door. The goal is to carry on the Irish tradition of being a cultural hub where people spill in and out throughout the day.
They're brewing their own suds onsite. The beer offerings change weekly, even daily, but keep an eye out for the Irish dry stout and the Irish red ale.
The dark wooden bar is located inside on the first floor. If you get no kicks from beer, wine and spirits are offered, too. Note, it can get cozy, and a little loud inside at the bar. When there's a crowd, it's not easy to traverse from one end of the joint to the other.
The restaurant has two floors, and most of the dining area is outside, on wrap-around balconies. It's airier outside and there's much more elbow room.
At dinnertime, Half Door has the traditional Irish fare—fish and chips, and a brewer's pie with beer-braised short ribs and puff pastry. I went for the house burger with Irish white cheddar cheese. It wasn't greasy; it was pleasantly moist.
Another day for lunch, I opted for the vegetable stir fry. It comes with oyster mushrooms, coconut ginger rice, green beans, pickled carrots, cabbage, scallions, roasted red peppers, sugar snap peas, macadamia nuts and sweet chile soy glaze. I was trying to impress my vegetarian girlfriend. But the waitress noted you could add a meat, and I weakened and opted for beef, which was a mistake on my part and overcooked by the kitchen.
My dining companion gave a green thumbs up to a poached-pear salad with roasted beets, arugula, goat cheese, candied walnuts and honey vinaigrette.
The beefed-up Padres lineup will probably help bring pre- and post-game business to the Half Door. I'll be back on off days.
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