Epicurious Eating: Miller’s Field
Miller’s Field captures the soul of Pacific Beach
Published Thursday, 30-Jul-2009 in issue 1127
If a filmmaker was assigned to capture the cultural soul of Pacific Beach, a few spot interviews at Miller’s Field would furnish nearly all of the fodder to complete the documentary.
Camera subjects would reveal their preferences for televised sports over semantics; beer over martinis; American grub over international cuisine; and dare I say – conformity over individuality? Simply count the number of guys donning baseball caps and the babes wearing shorty shorts, and then multiply by how many times you overhear them inject the word “like” into sentences. The grand total equates to a remarkably steadfast demographic that puts you squarely in the vicinity of west Garnet Avenue.
The two-level restaurant is the brainchild of Pizzeria Uno franchiser Glenn Miller, who converted the ample space to Miller’s Field in 2007. Sports games of every ilk are kept in easy neck shot by more than two dozen flat-screen TVs peppering the airy central bar area. They extend also to three outdoor patios that include a smoke-friendly rooftop deck with ocean views. Miller has since opened a second location in Escondido.
With a hefty gift certificate in hand (thank you, David), I’ve visited “the Field” in Pacific Beach thrice. In some respects, the food tastes better compared to nearby restaurants flaunting similar grub and cloned atmospheres such as Pacific Beach Shore Club, Longboard Grill, The Wave House, et al. Here, the usual litany of nachos, burgers and quesadillas bends to additional items that are mildly more colorful and homey – chicken spring rolls, slow-smoked meats, tuna steak sandwiches and seasonal berry cobblers.
There are also pizzas topped with every imaginable ingredient under the sun. They’re available in 10 or 16 inches. I can’t, however, vouch for them based on a gorgeous-looking pie my group ordered crowned with a host of fresh veggies. Both the crust and tomato sauce were flavorless, and the cheese lacked gooeyness.
Among the decent picks from various visits was the tuna steak sandwich served on a sweet Hawaiian roll with robust wasabi mayonnaise. Char-grilled burgers were also satisfying, with the finely ground meat boasting a juicy 80-20 ratio of leanness to fat.
Sautéed truffled mushrooms are an unexpected find under “side choices.” Though not quite the caliber of ’shrooms you’d find doused in white wine and discernible garlic at fancy steakhouses, they nonetheless struck a cozy rapport to a pleasing tri-tip sandwich using fresh baguette. And had I discovered Miller’s on-target hot wings earlier in my credit allowance, I would have ordered double batches from the start. Their firm, crisp skins glistened in authentic nostril-opening sauce worthy of honors at the annual Buffalo, N.Y. Chicken Wing Festival.
During a midday lunch visit, when the restaurant’s testosterone factor was limited to only a single high-top of young dudes showing butt crack in their very low-rider jeans, a friend and I shared the Miller’s wedge salad and an order of “pepperjack” mac ’n’ cheese over a couple of so-so bloody Marys. The salad proved less pedestrian than most, thanks to chunks of smoked applewood bacon, ripe tomatoes and chopped cucumbers filling the crevices of the halved iceberg head. As for the mac ’n’ cheese, don’t bother. Nary a burst of spice came forth. And the elbow macaroni was chewy from over baking.
Beer is the drink of choice in these digs. Served in glass canning jars, you’ll find about a dozen brews on tap ranging from premium domestics to imports. Wine offerings are practically non-existent, as a waitress accurately summed up after checking the inventory for us, “I have a red and a white. We don’t really get a wine crowd here,” she said with a sweet giggle.
The same could be said for the martini set, given the fact that when I ordered the drink, the bartender confessed that he didn’t have martini glasses or olives. Whoops, I had forgotten that I was in a non-metro zone of metro San Diego.
Despite its stubbornly juvenile patronage, I’ll give Miller’s Field brownie points for nudging food quality above the mediocre mark. The spacious layout also holds appeal, allowing you to catch sight of the ocean from the roof, snuggle into a wooden booth with friends or plant your caboose at the large square bar. Better yet, you can easily relocate to a different area if the group next to you breaks into a rambunctious beer-guzzling contest.