Monday, August 9, 2010

Pain In The GASStropub

I finally figured out the definition of "gastropub."  It means good tasting, small portioned food at exorbitant prices.  Throw in some craft beer and small vinter wines at high prices and the gastropub is complete.  (More crudely put - when you see gastropub by a restaurant's name, prepared to get screwed.)   Sessions Public in Ocean Beach is a new gastropub and if you visit, get ready for an expensive meal.  I popped in last week to examine the tap list and saw sixteen taps, all craft and Belgians, including Stone, Ballast Point, Allagash, Lost Abbey and Port Brewing, Ommegang and D'Achouffe.  I noticed that the menu was limited, with appetizers, small plates, sandwiches, salads and large plates, but was too blinded by the beer selection to notice the prices.  Not too smart.

We went last week and were shocked at how expensive this gastropub was.  We started by making the mistake of ordering the $15, five selection, cheese plate.  Sessions Public's cheese plate confirmed that cheese plates are now the biggest rip-off in the restaurant industry.  I wish I had snapped a picture because each mouse bite-sized slice of cheese was too small to even pair with a beer, and if you put it on the hard slices of bread that comes with the cheese, the cheese's flavor and complexity got completely lost - just like my $15.

I then doubled down on errors by ordering the $19 fish tacos (and I wasn't even buzzed).  I want to blame Sessions' audacity for having $19 fish tacos on the menu, but if I am dumb enough to order $19 fish tacos I have to take full credit for my stupidity.  The two ahi tacos tasted fine, but they were tiny, and served with a spoonful of cold beans.  Other Sessions' dishes seemed more reasonable, especially the pasta, which was huge (but still, $16 for pasta).  The wings as appetizers were delicious.  My advice is to stay with the small plates, which include sandwiches and the hamburger.  

On to the beer.  I don't think Sessions' glasses are real pints. The owners of Sessions spent good money on the cool looking, stubby glasses shown in the picture, but I'd bet that they're not sixteen ounces.  What kind of pub does not serve a real pint!  Fake pints are for restaurants not pubs.  Pubs should serve real pints.  The topper was that the non-happy hour, tax included price for a Ballast Point Sculpin was $7!  Ouch! I did not ask about the happy hour prices, but even if beers are $1 off, Session' prices are still too high - especially when the beer are not real pints.

Unfortunately, the tab for dinner tainted my view of Sessions.  The price for three beers, two appetizers and three entres was over $100, before tip.  This is outrageous for a pub, and more expensive than a similar meal at our Ocean Beach "special meal destination" restaurant, The Third Corner.  For comparison, I went to Ladyface Companie Alehouse in Agoura Hills over the weekend, which I would also consider a "gastropub," and we ordered more food and more beer (including a growler) and the total bill was nearly $40 cheaper.  While the food at Sessions was very good, I just can't get over how expensive it was.  I was hoping for a place we could frequent as a family and spend around $50. Unfortunately, I don't see a return visit to Sessions in the near future.

There are plenty of places to get food and craft beer in Ocean Beach.  Pizza Port and Newport Pizza & Alehouse have plenty of craft beers.  The OB Noodle House and The Blue Parrot (short pint alert) also offer a large selection of craft beers.  While these four restaurants may not have the ambiance of Sessions, you won't go broke either.

1 comment:

bodo said...

Damn sounds like a botch of what could have been a cool place. They don't even list their taps online! Some good reviews on your site, btw.