Mission Hills — a small neighborhood that sits nestled among the slightly more popular areas of Banker's Hill, Hillcrest and Downtown — is adorable. If you have yet to make it up there, the more quaint area of San Diego has its own character, one that was just kicked up a notch with the opening of new dining and drinking venue: The Patio on Goldfinch.
Marking the second location for what seems to be a growing chain (there are already future plans), the restaurant's older sibling, The Patio on Lamont Street, lives over in PB. Taking cues from the original location, The Patio on Goldfinch has a decidedly open-air feel; the décor features reclaimed materials and teak throughout, emulating your neighbor's brand new backyard deck...or patio.
The front end of the restaurant features some great outdoor seating, complemented by a fireplace that looks perfect to warm up by come fall. There are not one, but two of the trendy-as-of-late "living walls," one at the entrance and another at the far back, planted with an exotic mix of lush plants, some of which are even carnivorous. The rear vertical garden actually opens up to the sky, giving the rear dining area a dose of the outside as well.
At the grand opening party earlier this month, guests had a chance to sample quite a few savory bites including Ahi Poke with marinated English cucumber (light, refreshing, perfect for summer), Tartlet with seasonal wild mushrooms and goat cheese (a little on the heavy side and could have used less garlic), a Wonton topped Spanish octopus and Mexican shrimp (yum), and a Carne Asada Toast featuring a marinated and sous vide filet mignon (by far the best). On the sweet side, the chefs at The Patio on Goldfinch sent out Virtual S'mores, which were playfully presented with smoking woodchips — a nice touch that filled the restaurant with the smell of a summer campfire.
While The Patio offers all of the typical full bar drinks you would come to expect, the establishment also went out of its way to specialize in a few things that collectively make it unique. Craft beer is a big focal point here, and thanks to their extremely passionate cicerone Kelly Legan, the bar will almost certainly have great brews consistently — some that might rotate seasonally and others as staples. "Beer for me is all about fun. It's super subjective and that's what's so great about it. What you or I like today, may not be what we liked yesterday and definitely won't be what we liked tomorrow," Kelly says as she goes on to elaborate on the amazing craft beer culture present in the area, "our palettes are always evolving as we try new things and that's the beauty of beer, especially in San Diego." The cicerone goes onto explain that "there's always something new and different to try. It's also ridiculously approachable."
Wine is also a priority for the restaurant, with an expansive list on offer to complement the artisan cheeses featured in "California's only glass-enclosed cheese cave," which houses a curated array of cheese from all around the globe. The Patio on Goldfinch has partnered with Venissimo Cheese, even custom-creating their own. During the grand opening party, four cheeses were being sampled including Fourme d'ambert, Etorki, Arina and Beemster XO. On top of the craft beer, wine and cheese offerings, The Patio on Goldfinch also specializes in tequila and tequila cocktails, and the standard bar actually had a very respectable assortment of other alcohols, including whiskey, of which a couple of great single malt Scotches were a nice surprise.
Also during the festivities, local artist Bill Noonan was recognized for his work featured in the restaurant: his depiction of the old building that is now The Patio lending an air of history to the space. The plaque beneath the art reads "A moment in time is captured in this Bill Noonan charcoal, which evokes memories of a neighborhood fixture, the Mission Hills Radio and TV Shop. Commissioned by its former proprietor Mr. Jay Goodwin, it is now prominently displayed here as we carry on the proud tradition of what came before us on this great street." The art is a special touch to the space and it's great that the owners saw fit to honor the past. And if the locals take to the new Patio, perhaps one day the restaurant will be considered an iconic spot in Mission Hills too.