You’d be hard-pressed to find a better looking casual restaurant than Ironside. Located in Little Italy on a street packed with restaurants, the nautical theme that fills every nook and cranny of their space is beautiful. The most visually stunning piece is the wall made up of piranha heads. You’ll want your camera handy when you take a look at it.
Aside from the atmosphere, the service was stellar, too. Douglas was on top of his game, making sure the dining experience for our party of seven was nearly flawless. He even took the kids in our group to check out the lobster tank in their open kitchen.
As for the food, there were some highs and lows. The popular octopus a la plancha ($15) was not only Instagram-worthy, it’s also some of the best I’ve had. Tender with just enough char and chew, the flavors complimented each other so well, particularly the mild heat from the chorizo with the olive spread. Another amazing dish was the clam chowder ($10). All other versions from here on out will be judged against Ironside’s. Creamy, rich and full of clams, pork and potatoes, this iteration sets the standard very high for all others. And those cheddar biscuits that came with it were killer, too. In the mood for more seafood? Try the steamed mussels ($16) and have plenty of bread ready to sop up the outstanding broth at the bottom of the dish.
On the other end of the spectrum were dishes that were well conceived but lacked seasoning or flavors that would have elevated them. I enjoyed the mild and flakey grilled kingslip ($26) itself, but the accompanying braised lentils, butternut squash, and kale fell flat. Likewise, the meyer lemon ricotta agnolotti ($15) was just bland.
Cocktails were excellent, especially the gin based Skubic Diver ($11).
Despite a couple dishes that didn’t “wow” there’s enough on the menu that makes Ironside a destination to visit when in the area.
1654 India St
San Diego, CA 92101