Sublime Tavern in Del Mar delights

I’m always excited about new restaurant openings and when I heard that a new gastropub style restaurant opened in Del Mar, I was so there. The restaurant is located in a part of Del Mar I’d never been to, and although it wasn’t far off the freeway, it wasn’t in a visible spot. Even when I arrived at the location, I was a bit perplexed.

When I walked into the restaurant, however, I was surprised at its really rustic decor keeping in tune with the wine and beer theme. A lot of wood, including the staves off the wine barrels align a partition in the middle of the room — what a great idea!

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We started off with the Dark and Mysterious flight ($11) consisting of four beers: Rip Current Stringer Scottish, Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, Acoustic Ales Hot Mess, Ballast Point Victory at Sea. My favorites were the latter two.

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Ahi Poke Tostada ($14) was suggested by our server. The sashimi grade tuna was top quality and arranged on top of a crispy corn tortilla with a Napa cabbage slaw. The crushed avocado added a creamy consistency and the slight heat of the Sriracha crema was very pleasing.

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I couldn’t resist Duck Wings ($12) when I saw it on the menu and was so glad I got them. Cage free duck wings are crispy and I relished in chewing on them. Tossed in a sauce of local honey, Chinese mustard and orange glaze, they were salty, sweet, perfect accompaniment for the beer!! The cold rice noodle and shredded vegetable salad is Thai-inspired and possessed a light and refreshing contrast on the palate. Absolutely delightful.

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Sizzling Sisig ($14) is a unique take on the Filipino dish of the same name. I’ve never had the Filipino version before but was told this is a fantastic rendition using pork collar, shoulder and belly, which is first marinated, then braised and chopped, before it is fried on a sizzling skillet with onion and jalapeno. It reminded me of a hash without the potatoes. Traditionally, rice is served alongside sisig but here, Hawaiian sweet rolls make for a great partner. The sweetness pairs well with the saltiness and slight tart, spiciness of the pork. SO GOOD!

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I was intrigued by the Belgian Ale Braised Mussels ($14) because I am told a different Belgian ale is selected each day to be used with this dish. On the night of our visit, it was Iron Fist Hired Hand Saison. PEI mussels are tender and the lemon garlic butter piquantly pleasing. I’m sure you’ll think I was crazy to complain about this, but I thought there was way too much andouille sausage in the bowl.

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We couldn’t leave without trying one of their signature macaroni and cheese selections. Ecstasy Mac N Cheese ($9/$13) is gooey and rich smothered in gorgonzola and bechamel, dotted with applewood smoked bacon, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, garlic and thyme. I was impressed by the use of thyme as it elevated the aromas and flavors without overpowering.

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Our last (but not least) dish was a pizza. Sublime Tavern’s owner apparently studied under a famous pizza chef up in the Bay Area to learn about the intricacies of creating an ideal crust. Get Figgy Wit It ($17/$24) comprises sweet figs, prosciutto, arugula, parmesan a drizzle of balsamic glaze and olive oil on a puffed up garlic base. I was really too full to eat a whole piece but I managed a few bites! I liked the airy crust and the toppings are generous.

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Sublime Tavern definitely has what it takes to be a successful spot, not only for the beer and wine but also, the food. My experiences with gastropub-style establishments often mean they excel in one or the other, but few can claim to be this well-rounded. My only concern is its hidden spot which won’t generate much foot traffic. Hopefully when the word starts spreading, it will garner all the accolades it deserves.

Sublime Tavern
3790 Via de la Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
Tel: 858-259-9100

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