Our latest issue out now!Fall 2016
BOARD & BREW.
GUARANTEED TO BE YOUR NEW FAVORITE.
CHALK UP ANOTHER WIN FOR PLAZA ANTONIO. On the heels of attracting upscale sushi restaurant, Mizu, the shopping center fills much of the void left by the departed Ruby’s with the beach-style upstart, Board & Brew.
Upstart is a bit of a misnomer, since Board & Brew has been around since 1979, but with all four of their other locations in San Clemente and points south, the brand didn’t have much name recognition in this part of the OC. However, for those that have stumbled upon one of those other locations in their travels, rave reviews seem to be the norm.
This laid-back, beach shack style restaurant would fit right in with some sleepy coastal town in Baja. Amazingly, it fits into OC suburbia with similar ease. With its bright paint scheme and rough-around-the-edges appeal, this is a place where you leave pretentions at the door. The tables have interesting graphics featuring maps of familiar ocean areas and the bar area has a substantial lacquered wood surface where those more focused on a frosty beverage can belly up. There is a good-sized outdoor patio, as well, with a few large picnic tables, a few smaller tables and some bar stools that look back into the restaurant via a large, roll-up door. Despite being right next to the parking lot, the patio somehow helps you forget that as you relax in the casual atmosphere.
Ordering is straightforward, with a counter manned by welcoming employees and a menu that provides a good range of choices without being overwhelming. Sandwiches and salads are the staples here and by keeping the menu simple, Board & Brew can focus on fresh ingredients. The restaurant states that ingredients are delivered fresh daily, with nothing frozen or artificial. The sandwiches certainly taste that way, and are further enhanced if you ask for some of the house secret sweet-sour sauce on the side. If you go straight to the bar, you can place your order there and bypass the main ordering line.
When ordering food, feel free to ask the staff for recommendations. The Turkado seems to be a perennial favorite, but others, such as the California Delight and the Perfect Pastrami have passed my personal taste test and distinguish themselves substantially from the more familiar sandwich shop offerings, while keeping a similar price point. Optional side orders include house potato salad, a variety of chips by the bag, and soup. Dessert lovers are limited to chocolate chip cookies, but other options in this shopping plaza can fill that void.
Once the “board” part is covered, it’s time to review beverage choices. Soft drinks are readily available from one of the newer Coke machines that allow customers to choose from a menu of flavor options, in addition to your standard offerings. But the real strength of the Board & Brew strategy is a strong line-up of craft beers on tap. While thirteen taps may not seem like much compared to some, each tap generally has something interesting, and often unique. Those seeking a light beer will have to check the bottle cooler to see if it’s in there, though the same cooler also stocks harder to find beers in bottles, as well. Wine drinkers can choose from one of two wines, one red and one white, which also appear on-tap, so to speak. A cask fridge awaits the first use in this location, with the only delay being that the owners want the first cask to be something epic, which I’m sure they’ll accomplish.
The beer selection is available via a large-screen display that keeps the list up-to-the-minute and available online. Check-ins to popular social media apps appear near real-time on the big screen, as well, if you check into the location. Nothing like real-time validation of your social media fixation…uh, passion! There is also a large installation of chrome and wood near the bar that I’m told allows for custom mixing of the various gasses used for carbonating the beer at each tap. I’m not sure how it accomplishes the task, but it is certainly eye-catching and makes for interesting conversation.
Board & Brew has a winning combination of friendly staff (just please don’t call me by name in front of my wife), reasonable prices, really good food, and really good beer. While this appears simple to emulate, somehow I get the sense that this place will continue to deliver a quality experience of this type better than others that might try. Slow expansion has been a benefit, but as new locations open in the midst of a growing craft beer movement, I don’t think Board & Brew will be flying under the radar for much longer.
So, shooby dooby down to Board & Brew. You’ll be glad you did!
Board & Brew is located at 22411 Antonio Parkway, Suite C-180, in RSM. You can reach them at 949-709-5566, www.boardandbrew.com