Truffle mac, divine views make for perfect afternoon delight
Stella Public House – located in East Village at 1429 Island Ave. – may have been around since 2012, but with the newly opened park and amazing seasonal menu, the flavor and ambiance make it feel brand new.
Open-air seating, views of San Diego’s iconic skyline and Fault Line Park are all features that make Stella the perfect end-of-summer spot, though when one lives in San Diego, summer doesn’t really have an end.
Sharing space with Halcyon Coffee Bar and Lounge can make entering and seating a little difficult — there is an open space that connects the two patios — but if you meander through to the correct side, you won’t be disappointed.
Great craft beers and handcrafted cocktails will help you to relax from a long day of classes as you wait for the delicious bites from the kitchen.
Not only does the rotating tap list consist of local microbrews like Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm Cream Ale, Lost Abbey Carnevale Saison, Saint Archer Double IPA and Belching Beaver’s addictive sweet Peanut Butter Stout, but tap appearances are also made by breweries from distant lands. Currently gracing a portion of Stella’s 30 taps are beers from Hawaii’s Maui Brewing Co., Almanac Beer Co. in San Francisco, Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Mich. and the Hacker-Pschorr Bavaria brewery in München, Germany.
If beer isn’t really your style, opt for one of their craft cocktails. Stella’s No-Jito takes the classic mojito cocktail and revamps it for a gin-drinking audience. The Old Harbor gin and muddled cilantro give it a different flavor than the rum and mint combination that is far more common on cocktail menus.
Vodka fans can find solace in the Compass Rose, — a combination of vodka, fresh blueberries, lemon juice and basil. Though one might be disappointed in the lack of muddled pieces of blueberries and basil in this beverage, their subtle flavor is a great refresher on a hot day.
Some might say that the farm-to-table – or farm-to-pizza, as Stella states on their website – concept is played out, but fans of fresh wholesome food will thoroughly enjoy Stella’s locally sourced menu. Many of their vegetables are purchased from local farms such as Sundial Farm, Valdivia Farms, and Mountain Meadow Mushrooms Inc., and their lamb is purchased from Superior Farms in Vernon, Calif.
Some people may shy away from the Brussels sprouts on the menu, but these are not the bland and soggy vegetable that you grew to despise as a child.
Though they weren’t nearly as crispy as the Brussels sprouts at West Coast Tavern (one local restaurant to perfect the art of sprout cookery), Stella is able to put a fresh spin on a classic side dish. Served in what is presumed to be the small skillet that they are roasted in, the sprouts are flavored with thickly diced pieces of salami and topped with thin slices of ricotta salata the Italian version of feta cheese.
Bejeweled with vibrant red and golden beets, the arugula salad is the perfect way to lighten up your meal. A helping of faro adds a chewiness that breaks up the texture of the arugula, and the tangy blue cheese plays well with the earthiness of the beets.
If you need a little protein in your salad you can always add chicken, but try the salmon instead. The smokiness of the cured salmon adds yet another dimension to the flavor profile that will leave you wanting more.
Stella’s wild mushroom mac and cheese might be a small portion size, but the flavor is much larger than the tiny cast iron skillet can contain. The perfectly balanced gouda and parmesan cheese sauce melts perfectly with one another, without the graininess or clumps that are found all too often in amateur béchamel sauces. With the added of touch of truffle oil, this delectable dish will entice you with its sensuous undertones.
As with most things in life, timing is everything, so be careful to avoid their off times. Stella is open Monday thru Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
This article was originally published online in the National University Herald on March 29, 2016.