An unexpected amount of free time has fallen into my hands recently. And it comes in the form of a layoff. The industry which I was currently employed at has fallen on hard times, like many companies the last few years and I’m one of the victims of a shrinking industry (newspaper). Instead of staring into the dark abyss, I gave myself 24 hours of moping and decided to look at the bright side. I now have copious amounts of time to cook, sleep (sometimes twice a day) and try new restaurants at hours I normally would be at work.
So between job searches, I checked out Polite Provisions and its neighboring sister store, Soda + Swine, when they promptly opened up at 4 p.m.
At the time of my visit, both places were still fairly new (having only been open for a little more than a week). There was a little bit of work still to be done on the interiors but you have to look mighty hard because each place, especially Polite Provisions, is a helluva a stunner.
The main duty of Polite Provisions is to provide drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic.
On their menu are different headers specifying spirited cocktails, cocktails on draft, champagne cocktails, punch bowls (which serves 4-6), housemade sodas, soda on draft, beers, wines, straight up alcohol and caffeinated hot beverages.
But if you’re looking for a little more than just drinks, my suggestion is to head over to Soda & Swine first to order food by either entering through the front door or going though a door to the rear that connects them.
The main focus of the menu at Soda & Swine is meatballs. There’s a choice of beef, smoked pork, chicken, vegetarian and chorizo. More choices await: sauce (marinara, mushroom cream, chipotle, primavara), cheese (provolone, mozzarella, pepper jack, feta) and delivery system of the balls to your mouth, like the slider ($4 with your choice of a brioche or egg bun), in submarine ($9) or a la carte ($8 for any choice of three meatballs).
But man cannot live on balls alone. To help fill out the menu, a variety of sides including fries, salads and spaghetti are also available. A variety of bottled sodas and apple pies are on the sweet spectrum of the menu. It’s $3 per a soda including Dublin Dr Pepper (Dublin, TX, being the home of Dr Pepper) and a favorite among Michiganders— Faygo. (I’ve seen some of these sodas at BevMo.)
Ordering ala carte is the best way to go to have a taste of everything without carb committal, but the choice of sauce and cheese is limited to only one each since it is all served in one square cast-iron pan.
Chicken was the weakest of the bunch but was helped greatly with the mushroom cream sauce. The vegetarian ball, consisting of quinoa and rice, was nicely flavored and I can foresee having that as a filling meal especially with one of their sides. Other standouts were the hefty serving of crispy polenta ($8) and their Yorkshire apple pie ($6), served warm with melted sharp cheddar cheese on top. More places should offer cheese on top of warm pie, it’s both sweet and salty. My only qualm about the pie was that it seemed to have been left in the oven a tad too long (we had to remind them twice about the pie), leaving burnt edges. The jury is still out on their Scotch egg ($4), served with spicy mayo which was fried instead of the baked variety I’m used to.
The dining area at Soda & Swine is rustic with gaslamps illuminating the long wood tables and only chicken wire separates the dining area from the sky. If you’re thin-skinned like myself, let the person taking the order know you’ll be at Polite Provisions next door and take the doorway behind the fireplace.
Polite Provisions is immaculately decorated: marble countertops, velvet cushioned stools, intricate wood inlays and bronze statues inhabit this area. It only makes everyone working there in their plaid shirts and jeans stand out more against the elegant interior. No amount of photos do justice to this place.
If none of the bottled sodas next door impress you, this is the place to go for something stronger. (Alcoholic beverages are not permitted on the premises for Soda & Swine.)
Since 4 p.m. is too early for strong drinks but that didn’t dissuade me from trying a chocolate egg cream soda ($3). The added pretzel on top is an odd touch.
Depending on where you sit, you can see it being made right in front of you. With its combination of seltzer, milk and chocolate, it reminds me of a effervescent Yoohoo. Other nonalcoholic choices include Balboa Park Fizz and Bitters & Soda, also $3.
As a newbie to mixed drinks, I’m looking forward to returning to checked out their other stuff. I’m eager to try the ones with alcohol if only to say “Give me a Tijuana Slowdance and make it quick.”
Soda & Swine
2943 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
4696 30th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116