I might be in danger of giving you the impression that I drink a fair amount. This is not entirely true. The Brother drinks a lot; I normally just tag along. Last night we attempted to do something a bit different and go to a gig at a live venue called the Belly Up Tavern. Located in wealthy Solana Beach, my brother tells me that it’s a great place to see a band. Prince Harry was spotted there a few months back when he was in California. I figure if it’s good enough for a prince, it is definitely good enough for a pauper.
The Belly Up was hosting Gomez, a band I first heard about in the late 90s. They are from Southport, England, and had some early success with their first two albums. They also won the highly coveted Mercury Music Prize in 1998. I lost track of them soon after this, but I was curious to see how they had evolved – and I remember that they were accomplished musicians. Since we tend to leave everything to the absolute last minute, I am dismayed to find that the gig is sold out on Tuesday afternoon, the day of the show.
So off we go to bar instead, and I’m moaning the whole way about what we might have missed. My brother blames me, I blame him. Nothing has changed since we were teenagers. We wash up at a place called The Lion’s Share in downtown San Diego. We have never been to this pub/bar before, but I’ve heard good things about it.
We had no idea it was Fat Tuesday, which is the culmination of Mardi Gras celebrations in various cities around the world. San Diego’s Mardi Gras celebrations are pretty tame, but the Lion’s Share has scattered some carnival beads and shiny masks around the tables. The bar is small and kind of cozy. I feel like I’ve seen the type before – there are ornate mirrors, funky orange lighting and lots of dark wood and dark tables; the artwork on the walls consists of animals dressed up as aristocrats. It’s a cross between a trendy bar and a toff’s study.
We order appetizers: there’s a cheese board, fried oyster sliders (in honor of Mardi Gras) and olives. It’s all perfectly decent, but not exactly cheap. I also order a cucumber gimlet (gin, pressed limes and cucumber). The Brother thinks it’s too tart, but I enjoy the slightly sweet/sour balance. I could have had more than one. The Brother orders a New York sour (rye whiskey, lemon and cabernet franc). It looks beautiful in the glass – it’s a pale lemon color with a vibrant splash of cranberry pink floating at the top. It reminds me of a sunset on a summer’s day.
I like the bar and won’t go on and on about it because I don’t know if any of you will ever find yourself at a strange intersection in San Diego (Kettner and Harbor) right beside a trolley stop. It’s not the kind of place you would stumble across unless you live across the street, where there are some pricey condos.
Maybe it’s because I feel flat after my trip to Los Angeles. Or maybe it’s the flat buzz you get from going out on a Tuesday; but I find myself wishing yet again for a traditional English pub. The Lion’s Share is kind of like the hip American cousin – cool and dressed up to the nines. What I want on an ordinary Tuesday night is the tatty, slightly nerdy relation who teams old cardigan sweaters with pearls. I can see myself curling up next to a fire in a pub and reading a good book or just enjoying a very quiet glass of red wine. Despite the fact that The Lion’s Share resembles a study, you aren’t going to hang around for too long and get comfortable in an armchair.