It’s Friday night on the front balcony, stylishly coated with Sunset mag-style landscaping and younger jasmine vines. However, the eating place’s best been open for two and a half weeks, so and purchasers make themselves at home. One group is passing around brightly wrapped gives, possibly for the guest of honor—absolute confidence the next bright graduate set free of the Cal Poly gate.
A few university-elderly guys retaining rocks, glasses, and pints are checking out 1865 Craft House and Kitchen’s street-aspect entryway, as singles love to do. My husband, Greg, and I walk up the new cement path, beyond the “Just opened” sign, to two smiling hostesses and the eating manager, Melody Forsell.
They greet us with upbeat energy as if they have been looking forward to us. We don’t have a reservation, which is no hassle, and Melody takes the time to provide us with a tour of the newly opened restaurant. We have our preference for two doors, balconies, bar tables, downstairs rooms full of eating, and upstairs systems of tables.
The loft seating by the bar casually cozies up towards a wall announcing, “Eat. Drink. Be Happy,” written in preserved moss, a motto we later see scrawled on the bottom of our invoice. We feel we must take that advice. In my mind, I pay attention to my Irish-American Grandpop, slurring a touch as he leans over the bar and holds up a pint, “Eat. Drink. Be glad, dear. Life is brief.” It’s an excellent message … Always.
Just before 7 p.m. Half the tables are occupied by a scattering of households with young youngsters, college-aged companies of pals, and couples our age and older. Gastropub ghosts of the restaurant’s beyond lifestyles as Pappy McGregor’s still lingering within the scent of beer, grilled meat, and french fries even as Motown mixes with baseball statements from the sound machine and TV displays galore. One screen covers a wall alongside the open staircase and seating structures between angular beams.
A “wall-fall” leads to the bar, and electric-powered lighting glows along with the liquor display. Exposed white beams, industrial air tubes, and excessive ceilings give off a contemporary and ethereal vibe, and dashes of white tablecloths crowned with clean vases protecting sprigs of wheat and wildflowers add a homey touch.
As we take all of it in, Greg—who works in construction and has hands the dimensions of Wreck-It Ralph—surprises me by ordering the most, shall we embrace, “feminine” drink at the cocktail menu to begin: the Unicorn Paloma. It’s a $12 Cadillac Patron margarita on the rocks, with a crimson and black salt rim and flashy blue butterfly tea ice dice that melt into the red. I, then again, begin with a Barrelhouse Stout.
One of our servers tells us not to underestimate the greens. Vegetables? We may want to reconsider our 1865 Cobb salad, which is our vegetable of the night (even though the bibb lettuce comes extravagantly shrouded in julienned marinated grilled chook, egg, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, and blue cheese crumbles).
Chef Bernard Livingston used to paintings at Vegetable Butcher in SLO, and one in every one of 1865’s proprietors is vegetarian, which must be why one of the first-class gadgets on the menu is sincerely a $five facet dish: The Roasted Elote Off the Cob is like the traditional Mexican street corn found at the farmers market. This grilled elote is a creamy spiced-up bowl served in a cast-iron skillet. The corn—packed with flavor and people staggering charred specks from the grill—is shaved from the cob and topped with soft queso chunks. The corn elote additionally appears on the menu as the “Dip Duo,” served over house-crafted flour chips and guacamole.
The huge brewhouse menu has plenty of picks to meet the “Eat” imperative from the eating place’s motto: appetizers of signature wings and mussels and Harris Ranch burgers with scrumptious aiolis and flawlessly seasoned crispy beer-battered fries; flatbreads with prosciutto and arugula; Cubano and stuffed portobello sandwiches on tender baked brioche; and American consolation meals like jambalaya and applewood bacon macaroni and cheese.
Big appetite eaters will love this area. Case in point: The Bavarian pretzel and beer cheese fondue appetizer (spicy andouille sausage optional) should feed an entire Aussie rugby group. The pretzel is smooth and texturally ideal, and the fondue is British. As for “Drink,” I do my component via playing the playful and innovative Central Coast Sunset Mocktail—topped with pineapple foam and colored with lime, orange, and cranberry juice—that is making me rethink juice a chunk.