Malarkey’s Burlap, a meal you won’t soon forget

Brian Malarkey’s Burlap thrilled with a wide selection of small plates that made dinner into an event.  The top chef finalist doesn’t disappoint with his Asian Cowboy themed Del Mar restaurant.

Although our reservations were for 7pm, we showed up at 615 for drinks in the bar.  We started with $5 cosmos using a berry infused vodka.  The spicy tuna-crispy rice with albacore & spicy caper mayo was a great way to start things off… delicious.

I’ve had his Shishito peppers before, but this batch was scorch your mouth hot all the way through, so we all had a few, but couldn’t finish the bowl.  I love the flavor of the salty sautéed peppers, but WOW hot.

As we sat around a small coffee table on stools I saw the Chef himself, Brian Malarkey, walking around the restaurant.  When he saw that I recognized him, he came right up and introduced himself.  Starstruck, I merely shook his hand and said my name and he continued to introduce himself to the rest of the table and welcomed us to his restaurant.  “We are big fans” I could have said.  “I love your approach to food… innovative but homey at the same time” would have been appropriate.  But instead I just smiled awkwardly and off he went.  Well Brian, if you do read this, now you know what I would have said had I not wanted to look like some kind of stalker.  🙂

Moving on to dinner we took our seats in the restaurant.  When the menu allows, I love to try all the smaller plates, what he calls “Street Food” on the Burlap menu.  The rest of the table agreed with my approach so we just started ordering everything that sounded good.

The chicken satay was yummy, although my own nut allergy kept me from the peanut sauce.  Well balanced flavors and moist!

The crab cake was delicious as well.  I love the sphericalized tobasco sauce adding bursts of flavor to each bite.

We also tried the sisig.  A sizzling plate was brought out with pork belly & shoulder with some garlic and shallots.  On top was a poached egg.  As we mixed it all together the cast iron plate scrambled the egg into the dish.  Served over rice, this was delicious.

The sweet potato fries had a perfect balance of sweet & salty.  Tossed or sauteed into some kind of sweetness it paired perfectly with the spicy aioli served on the side.

I have saved the best for last.  Upon the recommendation of  our server Tiana (she was GREAT!) we tried the brussel sprouts.  Deep fried and tossed in a thai saute of some kind, I think they had some kind of fruit mixed in… the menu says sausage. I just couldn’t put it all together… I just had to keep eating!  They also come with cashews (which I had to skip)… I have to say it’s the best thing we had all night!  Thanks for the recommendation.

Sadly, the lighting meant that every photo I took looked terrible, but that means to see it you’ll have to try it yourself!  They also have a delicious brunch, so give it a try anytime.

Now I only have to try Gabardine before I’ve enjoyed the whole suite of Malarkey restaurants.  I loved Searsucker and Herringbone, and am now thinking maybe I need to give Gingham another go.

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