INCOMING: The Barn

San Diego Soup Shoppe planning all-SD craft beer and burger joint next door


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San Diego Soup Shoppe's been open less than a month, and now they're expanding. Seems the landlord is a big fan of their work, so he's partnering with them to open The Barn next door. Co-owner Jeff Shinn says it'll be a beer-and-burger joint with 20 taps filled with San Diego-only brews. The burgers will use purely local meat (beef, lamb, veggie) from Palomar Mountain, topped with fried egg. They'll serve four kinds of fries, too (bacon and egg fries—yes, truffle taters—no). The 1,500 square-foot space will be handled by the same local artist who created the Soup Shoppe's signage, with aged wood and patina, hand-hammered copper bar and a glass-walled keg room. They'll also blow out the front doors and windows for an open-door patio area. Shinn will get a little help from SD brewmaster general Lee Chase (Blind Lady Ale House, Tiger! Tiger!) for some lighter lagers and Kölsch-style beers that'll only be served at The Barn. "We didn't want to do the IPA-heavy beers you see everywhere," says Shinn. A former Swedish restaurant, The Barn will keep the Swedes' midcentury-style brick fireplace that looks lifted from Mr. Brady's living room. Expected open: next summer.

As for the Soup Shoppe, this tiny joint is excellent. Shinn's a local and former Kensington Club punk who managed some Downtown nightspots before starting OB Bread Co, making soups and paninis for the OB farmers market and catered events. The bread bowls come from a special relationship with Bread & Cie ("They don't even make bread bowls, except for us," says Shinn). The lobster bisque with sherry is a big seller, but the roasted red pepper with smoked gouda (vegetarian) is excellent, with chunks of gouda in each bite (the cheese melts at a higher temp than the soup, so it keeps some integrity). As is the mushroom and brie, which isn't a plasma of cheese, but nicely balanced with ample shrooms. When asked about the butter content, Shinn says he doesn't use too much. "Everything's under 700 calories," he says. "We're working with a food scientist right now to get the calorie count on everything."

Yet the coup de grace—the turkey-cheddar with blueberry preserves panini. Mind-blower. Toasted sourdough, thinly sliced turkey, sharp cheddar, arugula and wild blueberry preserves (not too much). One of the best I've had in San Diego.

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Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

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