Wisconsin Avenue's Blue Crush
Inside the cheery periwinkle building is a surprisingly spacious restaurant, complete with high ceilings, exposed brick and green and blue accent walls. A large roof deck is another one of the restaurant's draws, but alas, at this point in time, no booze is allowed upstairs. The restaurant held off on applying for a summer garden permit along with its liquor license, says chef David Scribner. The restaurant will apply for that permit later, but for its opening, the owners wanted to show the neighborhood that the place would be a family-friendly, everybody-is-welcome kind of restaurant, not a bustling bar.
True to his word, Scribner has devised a menu that calls to mind some of the fish-taco shacks down San Diego way. On our initial visit Tuesday night, we sampled Maui, a platter of two fish tacos that had been wrapped in soft corn tortillas with fresh cilantro, black-bean salsa and just-smushed avocado. The steak fajita platter, dubbed Cabo San Lucas, featured the same soft avocado along with grilled onions atop tasty grilled flank steak. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd go with the juicy steak, but you can't go wrong with either.
Both of these platters cost $8.95 and included red beans and rice and a grilled lime for squeezable seasoning. Other items on the menu come with salad or jasmine rice, and all are priced under $15. On my Tuesday night visit, the restaurant was not yet offering sides of guacamole and chips, but Scribner tells me those are now available.
Considering that the restaurant just opened, there are still some kinks to work out. You place an order at Surfside by circling the item you want on a menu card and paying for it at a counter in the front of the building that separates the restaurant's small open kitchen from the rest of the establishment. The layout is similar to a California Tortilla or the restaurant's cousin Jetties. You then hang out by the counter/kitchen and wait for your order. The wrinkle in this plan is that if you want an alcoholic beverage to go with your meal, you have to go to a different bar in back and pay for that drink separately. Scribner says the staff is looking into a different system for this -- perhaps allowing patrons to pay for their margaritas up front and then giving them a ticket to retrieve these drinks from the back bar.
Under the current system, the time to make your drink transaction is right after you pay for your meal. That way you can return to the food counter, drink in hand, just in time for your food to arrive.
Now, about those margaritas. The total for one came to $8.80 including tax. Seriously? To be fair, it was a hefty one -- it came in a salt-rimmed plastic cup that appeared to be about 16 ounces. But, considering the drink was just 15 cents less than the restaurant's delicious taco platter, it hardly seemed worth it. Also, $9 drinks just felt out of place at such a casual spot. I asked Scribner if he planned on offering a smaller size margarita. "That's not a bad idea," he said and tells me he plans to look into it.
Scribner said about 260 people came through the doors Tuesday night alone. Any early reports from those who have been? How do you think the restaurant compares to its fast-casual competitor, Tackle Box?
The restaurant is starting out serving dinner only, but you can expect lunch hours in the coming weeks.
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