Restaurant Review: Heat Bar & Kitchen

     

    Don’t be deterred by the abundance of traffic cones outside the restaurant. They fail to convey the inner decor’s chic and welcoming ambiance. The lighting highlights your good side, and the food is well prepared, albeit pricey. But what makes a night at Heat is the people watching.

    The restaurant attracts an older crowd, from couples to co-workers to middle-aged, gay men hitting on the servers, that makes up for the long wait times.

    Beware of showing up late to your reservation on a busy weekend evening since tables are turned over quickly. However, apologetic servers will immediately seat you at the bar and hand you a drink list that serves numerous San Diegan craft beers. Heat definitely has a fair selection of locally brewed beer including Ballast Point, Coronado and Hillcrest Brewery. Fans of spice and unique beers should definitely try Ballast Point’s Thai Chili, Lime, Ginger Wahoo ($7). IPA lovers will be pleased to see Chaotic Double Double ($7) and Victory at Sea ($7). Wines from Argentina, Italy and California are standouts. Additionally, Heat’s beverages range from cocktails to sake for those looking for something stronger.

    Pass on Heat’s specials and appetizers for a second helping of their homemade bread rolls and jars of sea salt infused butter. They’re free.

    An excellent pairing to the bread is the Thyme Roasted Chicken, which is paired with hearty herbed crushed potatoes, and side fennel salad ¬— an entire meal on a plate. Juicy free-range chicken sits in a delicious broth that oozes into the crushed potatoes ($17).

    For a dish that’s only found at this restaurant, try the signature Heat burger: It’s juicy, smothered with house-made “bacon jam,” and is nothing short of awesome. Cooked medium and covered with melted gruyere and peppery greens, this grass-fed burger has a pronounced kick. You can add egg or sautéed mushrooms to the burger and accompany the meal with freshly fried fries sided with ketchup and garlic aioli. This dish was probably the most well rounded of the bunch and at $12, the most affordable.

    There’s food for vegetarians at Heat, too. An assortment of veggie and grain dishes are scattered throughout the menu, ranging in price from $9 to $15.

    A word to the wise: Skip dessert. The highlighted item when we were there was a mousse made with smoked 70 percent dark chocolate, and it failed to impress.

    Heat has happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day, during which every drink and food item on the menu is just $5. If you’re on a student budget, that’s when you’re best off going. Just don’t expect fast service: Grab a seat at the bar, and let yourself be entertained by the crowds. (3.5/5)

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