The Linkery - 7th Anniversary

>> Sunday, February 26, 2012

Date of Dining: 2/24/2012
Price: $7-14 per appetizer, $20-35 per entree
Location: 3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

The Quick Bit:
+ house made sausage links
+ special menu for anniversary celebration
+ cooking temperature of meat was spot on
Δ seasoning in dishes could be more consistent
Δ ambiance could be warmer and friendlier

While deciding what to do on a Friday night, I came across The Linkery celebrating its seventh anniversary during the weekend. Naturally this became the event to attend. The Linkery was on the forefront of the San Diego movement towards Farm to Table. As much as possible, they try to source their ingredients from local farms and make all their food themselves.
The Linkery is one of the restaurants owned by Jay Porter, whose restaurants all share this philosophy. I mention Jay because he is actually more prevalent in his restaurant's website than the chef is. He is also an active participant on many local San Diego food communities. He contributes his opinion when it is warranted and usually gives an insightful viewpoint from the restauranteur.
The Linkery's kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Max Bonacci. Bonacci was named the reader's choice best chef for San Diego City Beat, but I wasn't able to find any additional information on his background.
As part of the 7th anniversary, The Linkery featured a selection of sour beers and some special menu items:
Cuvee de Tomme, Lost Abbey 
el salchichero - french fries, house made longaniza, house cured bacon, spring hill cheddar
pastured hen egg, avocado, marinated onions
When we decided to order fries, I tried to go for the classic version, but was shamed into getting the biggest, most complete order of fries. Inevitably the problem with these types of dishes is that you have no idea how to attack the dish; do you enjoy the elements separately, do you try to mix them together? This dish suffered similarly. While the house cured bacon and the egg stood out as great elements in the dish, I didn't really get how everything was supposed to integrate. Perhaps the biggest issue was that the longaniza was somewhat unspectacular and reminded us of ground beef.
board it up - chaurice (near) bucyrus bratwurst (far)
From the linkipedia:
Chaurice: a class Creole sausage, really spicy pork, onion, new mex chile powder, garlic, clove, cayenne, red pepper flakes, allspice
Bucyrus Bratwurst: Bucyrus is a city in central Ohio that is known as "The Bratwurst Capital of America." Pork, ceal, caraway, ginger, milk, poached in beer
I felt that both sausages lacked a little salt, so a small dish was brought out. With a light application of salt, the flavors started to pop out. The Chaurice was a spiced sausage that really highlighted how spice can really enhance the flavor of meat. However, the flavor was somewhat one-dimensional. I enjoyed the bratwurst as there was a complex depth of flavor to it. The interplay of the different meats created a more subtle, but interesting flavor profile in how the flavors came together.
I actually respect that the sausages themselves don't have salt as the sausages are generally a smaller part of a larger dish. Adding salt in both places would probably result in overly salty dishes.

choucroute - link of choice, cured pork belly, house cured saurkraut in white wine and berkshire pork,
house made mustard, house made beer bread
The link of choice was the kasekrainer:
kasekrainer: An Austrian "cheese sausage" pork, cheese, paprika, cayenne, marjoram, sage, garlic
When I ordered this dish, I thought this was going to be the best dish of the evening. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I found myself disappointed. While it was on the menu, I didn't expect the cheese to actually be integrated into the sausage and ooze out when cut. I also didn't get the smokiness or spicy from the sausage as I felt the cheese somewhat overpowered those flavors.
The house cured bacon and saurkraut were excellent. However, there was a cheese melted on top of the kraut that threw the balance of the dish off.
berkshire pork chops - kumquat, oyster mushroom, spring onion
This was the best dish of the night. The kumquats were a key component to the dish as they contained a nice amount of sweetness and acidity that balanced the fattiness of the pork. The pork chop was cooked perfectly medium and the flavor of the pork through the fat was really enjoyable.
I once heard a comment about Chef Gavin Schmidt's sous vide beef brisket being exactly what beef should taste like, and I felt that this Berkshire pork chop really epitomized the greatness of pork. It was full of the pork flavor, fat, mouth feel, and was complemented by some nice sides. Further, there was a very generous serving of two chops.

While the menu items I ordered were from the anniversary menu, these anniversary dishes were "old favorites" that were brought back. The menu is reflective of the high quality of food served at the Linkery, and the restaurant experience was enjoyable. The house cured bacon was incredibly tasty each time it appeared, and the berkshire pork was also extremely enjoyable. Glancing at the current menu, I'm sure the coq au vin is interesting as well as the grass fed steak.
Note: When dining at The Linkery, an 18% gratuity is automatically assessed to the bill. This is ultimately lower than I normally tip, but it was somewhat of a shock seeing the total a little higher than initially expected.


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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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