50 things about Hundred Proof
Hundred Proof opened in University Heights this summer with a light, airy design that includes lots of reclaimed woods and a well-stocked bar.
1. Notwithstanding its name, Hundred Proof is a bar and restaurant.
2. The drinks are a big reason to go.
3. The food might be a bigger reason to go.
4. It has an impressive family pedigree; it’s the saucy little sister to Trust, one of the best new restaurants to hit San Diego in recent memory.
5. Hundred Proof opened in in the summer.
6. It took over the space once occupied by S&M Sausage & Meat.
7. To the best of our knowledge, there haven’t been anti-meat protests there since S&M closed.
8. Beyond a controversey-free menu, another change is the demolition of a 1,000-square-foot concrete slab to level out and unify the upper and lower dining rooms.
9. The owners also added a heated, covered sidewalk patio.
10. Two 16-foot-long by 6 ½-foot-high accordion-style windows open the dining room to the patio.
11. Yes, those are jackalopes on the wallpaper.
12. If you don’t recognize the Queen of Cool Marlene Dietrich - in a tux and top hat, cigarette dangling from her lips - from the giant poster on the wall, maybe you’re not cool enough for Hundred Proof.
13. The now rustic-chic bar was reconfigured into an elongated L.
14. That bar serves 41 kinds of whiskey.
15. Feeling frou-frou? The spiked slushies come with either rosé, gin and lime or Fugu vodka, ginger and lime.
16. Choose between eight boilermakers (Wild Turkey and Cynar with Miller High Life, anyone?) You decide whether to drink your alcohol shot and beer separately.
17. Bottle Service here is a flat $60 for a 375 ml. bottle and a six-pack of down-market brews.
18. The draft and bottled beer list is concise and “good within its limits,” says U-T beer critic Peter Rowe.
19. The even more concise wine list - only six choices - is very good within its limits.
20. No shocker here: the cocktails are pretty and pretty well made.
21. A signature drink is the Trust #2. If you want more smoke than heat, swap out the jalapeño tequila for mezcal. Either is perfect with the grapefruit, lime, agave, firewater bitters and a Tajín-speckled cucumber slice.
22. Happy Hour - from 3-6 p.m. Monday to Friday - knocks $3-$4 off drink prices, $2 off any dish.
23. The menu is a dream team of dishes you’d want to eat at a grown-up neighborhood hangout.
24. Because the executive chef is Trust’s Brad Wise, HP’s kitchen turns out nearly flawless food.
25. Plates are visually appealing, sometimes arrestingly so.
26. There’s substance behind that style - flavors pop off the plate.
27. Complimentary textures are incorporated into even the simplest of dishes.
28. Ingredient combinations go beyond the conventional (e.g., spare ribs “ham style,” with mezcal plum barbecue sauce, spicy peanuts and fresh herbs.)
29. How dare they take the smoked beef brisket stuffed soft pretzel with pickled onions and cheddar beer sauce off the menu already?
30. With the pizza quality bar being raised seemingly by the week in San Diego, Hundred Proof succeeds in kicking it up a notch further.
31. Need proof? See the wild mushroom pie, with knuckle-sized roasted garlic cloves, fresh ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino, just the right hint of thyme and a perfectly blistered crust.
32. The Technicolor purple roasted beet hummus is one of the most vibrant dishes I’ve ever seen.
33. The hummus gets its creamy texture the old-fashioned way, with chick peas.
34. Typical of a Brad Wise dish is the quest to elevate it even further. The hummus is accompanied by warm, seasoned pita triangles drizzled with olive oil, salty feta crumbles, crunchy toasted pistachios and small bits of green onion.
35. The ultra-decadent truffle mac ‘n’ cheese - with mushrooms, Gouda, thyme and unctuous bone marrow - is made with one of the more underrated pasta shapes: dainty ditalini.
36. Korean short rib bao buns are little sponge balls of meaty flavor; sweet pickles and shredded carrot make a good foil to the spicy aioli.
37. Here’s what my office mate said after I brought her half of my HP Burger, with English cheddar and creamy HP sauce: “Dang! Thanks! Even cold, this is the best burger I’ve had in a year.”
38. I thought the pistachio-crusted salmon sandwich, with Dijon glaze, lemon aioli and shaved fennel, was even better.
39. Both sandwich rolls came with a black HP literally branded on the top. Nice touch.
40. The bad news: the only desserts are three flavored milkshakes.
41. The worse news: No shakes at lunch.
42. The excellent news: They’re boozy shakes! (Alright, the booze is optional.)
43. The Coffee & Donuts shake’s chocolate intensity was enhanced by the Old Harbor Distilling Co. Ampersand cold-pressed coffee liqueur, which is made right here in the East Village.
44. If you’re counting, this is the fifth entry on the boozy shakes. The chocolate whipped cream crowning mine was a luscious cocoa cloud. Alas, the mini sprinkled doughnut with it was tasteless and stale.
45. A friend whose taste buds I trust recommends the ahi poke with togarashi aioli and nori chips and the deviled eggs with crispy chicken skin.
46. Nothing on the menu costs more than $15.
47. Portions are not small.
48. Just like at Trust, service is sincerely warm, efficient and solicitous.
49. The rich teal tufted booths and banquettes are comfortable. The wood and metal bar stools not so much.
50. I can think of 50 reasons why I want the Trust team to open a neighborhood bar and restaurant in my neighborhood.
Hundred Proof: 4130 Park Blvd., University Heights; 619.501.6404; hundredproofsd.com
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