Monday, December 20, 2010

The Australian Pub is like life

THE AUSTRALIAN PUB – PACIFIC BEACH

From aust pub
16 seconds in the Aussie Pub one quiet Chargers loss evening

The Australian Pub is like life.

The first time I went there was my second day in San Diego in 2002 and I went boogie boarding in PB with my new roommate.  Coming out of the water I stepped on something and felt part of my toe get cut off (in my mind).  In my head it was a giant lobster that had clipped the end of my toe off.  It had been a stingray.  My roommate went and got the lifeguard and I hobbled over to the lifeguard station and they gave me a bucket of hot water to soak the foot in.  I sat there while lifeguards came and went and an incredibly painful shard-of-glass feeling on my luckily fully intact but bleeding toe went shooting up and down my legs.

We walked up the road to the pub.  I picked up the menu and got excited.  Six levels of heat chicken wings up to the ominous sounding HELLS BELLS!  Usually when these places say they are hot they are usually not.  Like Taco Bell levels of heat.  Nothing.  Vinegar does not equal heat and I’m not sure why so many places are convinced it does.

The menu had MILD, MEDIUM, HOT, 911, DOA and HELLS BELLS!


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They also have the lame flavors like honey something and bbq nothing and sesame seeds with water and other stuff to largely avoid unless you are my brother who is the person who orders honey barbeque things.

So in any case I was excited.  We got day beers (hey we just had a serious emergency) and I ordered the Hells Bells. 

The 17 year old waitress who looked like she had never been out of Rhode Island until that afternoon when she moved to town with her Navy husband looked as if I had pulled out two rabid stingrays and threw them on her feet and toes.

She scared me.  She said something like “Have you ever been here before?  You don’t want those.  I like spicy food and I can only eat the mediums.  I swear.”

My roommate was buying it and looked over at me in serious disbelief and concern.  He had already saved me from the clutches of death once and it was his second day of knowing me.  I caved in.  I backed down.

“O.K. just give me the hot then, I said.”  Why does my Microsoft Word grammar check want to change “give” to “gives” in that sentence?  OK what the hell: 

“O.K. just gives me the hot then, I said.”  


From aust pub


The Australian Pub is like life.  Sometimes when the weather is perfect and the Pacific salt is drying on your legs you get to have a nice cold beer in a welcoming slightly sports-ish bar filled with a crazy assortment of alcoholic old timers, a couple of those surfer guys with the big black sunglasses with silver crosses on the side and a weird old guy with a dog.  The hot wings were not hot as promised.  They were basically Frank’s.  My roommate was calmed though and the waitress didn’t have to perform CPR so I wasn’t too angry.  I asked for a side of Hells Bells to try it out and, though they had a habanero bite to them, were still a bit on the sweet side for me.  But the wings were well cooked, oven hot, and came with crunchy carrot sticks and celery and ranch.

Their burger was decent, the roll a bit too big even for the ½ lb. and their pub style thick cut fries were well cooked and they had plenty of malt vinegar and salt as any good pub should to put on your chips if you fancy that.  I got the burger with a fried egg on it and it was pretty good.

 
From aust pub


The Australian Pub is like life.  Sometimes you go and nobody is there and the jukebox is still too loud and playing someone’s ten dollar load of Winger’s greatest hits.  Sometimes there are no seats and the place is packed with people.  Sometimes the waitress smiles and remembers you.  Sometimes she makes you order at the bar and come and get your food doesn’t smile and doesn’t even look at you while you amble at the bar for five minutes.
 

From aust pub


Sometimes the wings are well cooked, warm, spicy.  I’ve found the DOA are actually hotter than the HELLS BELLS and are also habanero based yet don’t have the sweet crap in it while the 911 are the hottest black pepper based wings they have and both are excellent in their own rights when the kitchen is ON.
 

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Sometimes you get wings that are from some kind of baby chick, seriously I have never seen wings as small as some of the ones served here sometimes, the size of half of your pinky, what the f kind of animal is that? 

From aust pub


From aust pub

I mean have you ever seen a chicken with anything close to this size leg or wing?

Sometimes the wings are cold.  Sometimes they are undercooked.  Sometimes they are overfried.  Sometimes, actually very often, they put way too much salt in the sauce.
 

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Still you keep coming back.  Like life you wake up the next day and try the same crap waiting for God to step down and reveal himself to you in some random way.  Usually it doesn’t happen as overtly as you’d like. 

Most of the time The Australian Pub’s food is somewhere in between God and baby chick wing.  Decent.  Wings in a basket with tons of flat screens, Winger, two pool tables (75 cents), an electronic darts board and a bathroom with those long flat wall length urinals that you find in NYC subway stations.
 

From aust pub


The fries are good.  Cajun seasoning isn’t that great so get them plain.  Shoestring and pub style are both usually well done. 

Their drinks are just ok.  Sometimes you get pitchers in these weird oversized plastic pitchers with some kind of ice insert that’s supposed to keep it cold but instead it just eventually tastes like old warm beer.  I think they need to change their keg lines, if those are things, or something.  Also they have no Australian beers except for one I think.  Really there’s nothing anymore (after the menu change) that’s Australian at all except for the name, that’s ok by me though.
 

From aust pub

 

The Australian Pub is like life.  It’s changed over the years.  It’s recently changed ownership and no longer has many of the Australian food items nobody seemed to ever order anyway (let’s keep vegemite down under anyway mate).  Their salads are not too exciting: out of the bag limp bits of greenery that nobody orders.  OK burgers.  A chicken quesadilla that is like what you would make at home if you lived in Ohio and had never heard of quesadillas or Mexico in your life served with a side of something curiously similar to mild Pace brand salsa.
 

From aust pub

 

 
From aust pub


The Australian Pub is like life.  Fickle, sometimes evolutionary.  It’s changed its allegiance from the Green Bay Packers to no sports pictures and a cleaner look.  They’ve taken down the scores of cheesy county fair type framed pictures of Green Bay Packer guys running around and all of the dusty mildewy encrusted Green Bay flags they used to have up.  Who knows what happens on Green Bay days now.  Once the Mrs. and I wandered into the Pub on a random weekday in the afternoon expecting to have the place to ourselves and couldn’t find a seat because a Green Bay game was on (we also noticed for the first time the overly Green Bay related d├ęcor).
 

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They’ve finally cleaned the back room where the seats are too.  For the past eight years it was a construction zone in progress.  Broken TVs, some boxes of plates, an old keg or two, some old beer signs, a ripped up and dirty carpet that smelled like a frathouse and some dirty encrusted vinegar bottles with little flies.  Now it’s clean and there’s nothing but the seats and the tvs.  Amazing but true.  One day you wake up and it happens.
 

From aust pub

 

It’s life.  You get engaged (actually I met my wife here with the ring in my pocket after work, she spent the time at the Pub doing work while I sat there unable to think or eat, after eating I made her go down to the beach (romantic, sunset, beach, etc.) but she refused to go on the sand because it was too cold and foggy and there were flies and a homeless guy so I just proposed on the stairs in PB), have heated discussions with your friends about their impending divorce or cancer or lack of success or general unhappiness, have boring birthday party nights in an empty bar on a bad food night,  take your one year old daughter for some fries while some PB youngsters yell and do shots, listen to all sorts of Guns-n-Roses songs, watch the guy with his dog, win a game of pool or darts, forget to wash the DOA sauce off your fingers BEFORE you go pee (only once), have awesome wings and fries in a booth-load of amiable and interesting people, have horrible wings by yourself that are cold and tasteless, show up to have the place mysteriously closed or super packed or completely empty or out of food.
 

From aust pub

 

Like life sometimes it’s so good you can’t believe it.  The wings are hot, all properly shaped and sized and just cooked.  The fries are hot, the vinegar steam perfectly English.  The DOA sauce kicks it up with its habanero bite unfettered by the sweetness of whatever junk they put in HELLS BELLS and the 911 with its peppery goodness is a good yet still spicy respite from the DOA.  The beer is cold and tastes like they put in new tubes.  Someone ordered another awesome standby the spicy garlic wings (one or two of which are good complements to two six packs of DOA/911) so you didn’t have to look like too much of a pig by ordering three batches for yourself.  The heat from all the wings starts to make you dizzy and then you can’t hear for a little while yet the whole time you are smiling and laughing and talking and sharing stories with people you care about and who seem to care about you. 
 

From aust pub

 

The Australian Pub is like life, you don’t expect much (because, like life I guess, it’s a cheesy sports bar in PB) and usually don’t get much but when the sun shines and nobody hits you or swindles you and instead gives you a smile or a wave it feels so good and it always seems to be there when you return from five weeks in Thailand or six weeks in Dubai or three days in LA.


 
From aust pub

 

I wish I owned it.

I’m not even sure if or when it’s still open, go see and let me know how it is.  It's a little too clean now but what can you do.

They used to have wing nights on Wednesdays with half price wings that used to make it very crowded (but often a good night to get good wings).  Regular price for 6 wings is around $6 ($3 on wing nights duh).

They are in Pacific Beach near the beach in a mini mall on the corner of Cass and Grand a block West of Garnet.

They had a website at one point but it was like a Yahoo! GEOCities! Website or one of those make for free ones but they don’t have one anymore I don’t think.


Thank you Australian Pub.

1014 Grand Ave (and Cass)
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 273-9921