It’s no longer a secret that beer pairs with food as well, if not better than, wine (beer has more ingredients and flavor compounds). It’s something Belgium and the Czech Republic have known for a long, long while.
Now that it’s fully permeated the U.S. audience, that means you’re going to start seeing more duck with Belgian Trappists, local tuna with wheat beers, swordfish with gose—basically high-end food with very specific craft beers. That’s especially true in places like North Park, which has more tanks than parks.
Case in point: this fall, hyper-seasonal pop-up Long Story Short will complete its transition as the successor to Little Thief on University Ave. Little Thief is a neighborhood wine cave sporting an international selection of natural, low-intervention wines. It has become a playground for multi-course pop-up diners and will now showcase the knife work of husband and wife duo Elliott and Kelly Townsend.
“The idea is to lighten and brighten the space and make it more suitable for elevated cuisine and date nights,” says Patrick Ballow, co-owner of Little Thief. “We opened intending it to be casual, but we quickly realized the North Park community wanted something a little more refined.” Ballow, who also co-owns Vino Carta, already works alongside Elliott and Kelly. They currently run Long Story Short in the back of Vino Carta’s Solana Beach locale Wednesday through Sunday.
Elliott and Kelly’s approach to cooking is to routinely take trust falls into the bounty of local growers and suppliers. Menus change often every day, depending on which produce looks best when they arrive.
“We are sourcing produce from Chino Farm and some other purveyors,” Elliott says. “Our fish will come directly from the fishers. There’s really no middleman in the product we get and what we serve. It’s curated by people we know. We take what’s given. And there will be a huge focus on vegetables and seafood because we think that’s what’s going to represent San Diego the best.”
Sips include new and Old-World wines, vermouth, and a local craft beer selection. “It will be responsive to the type of cuisine they produce,” says Patrick. “They have some Southern French and Spanish elements, so we will lean into those types of wines.”
Aside from an obsession over seasonality, Elliot says to anticipate wine takeovers, themed nights, and collaboration dinners, all to maintain a level of excitement. “It changes things up and fuels our creative energy,” he says.
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