Any time some noteable beer place opens up, someone takes notice. T discovered Phileas Fogg while driving home one night after his hockey game, right on Poway Road in the funny strip mall that has a constant rotation of places. Phileas Fogg is where Sipz used to be, and the bistro that came after it but didn’t last long. Java Kai used to be in that strip, too. I suppose it’s not really a convenient location; it’s more along the way to your final destination. Kind of like Primm when you’re driving to Las Vegas – you’re so close to Vegas that you don’t really want to stop, even though Primm has all those outlet stores and the huge roller coaster. And on your way out of Vegas, you just want to keep going and get home.
We did stop at Phileas Fogg once for beers, on our way to Jimmy’Z for some Poway Fun Bowl bar karaoke and people watching. They had quite a crowd on a Friday night and the boys seemed impressed with the beer list. The food menu looked pretty good, too.
Last weekend, we pointedly drove over (the whole 4 minutes it took) for lunch. I’m going to preface this by saying it was Saturday afternoon, the place has only been open a month or so, and I guess their typical Saturdays have been very, very empty. I only saw one server on duty, but half the seats at the bar were taken, a few bar tables, the lounge-y couches at the front, two outside tables, and 3-4 dining table all had patrons. I repeat, all this for one server. Because they haven’t been open long enough to settle into the swing of things, I’m willing to overlook this. However, I think it would have been nice if they had someone on reserve duty who could have come in to help. We had noticeable waits between drink refills and beer re-orders, not to mention the food wait.
T really had his heart set on the Tikka Masala, an item that is on the menu and has been since they opened. However, you can’t have Tikka Masala because, even though it’s on the menu, it’s not being served. I can understand being out of a certain item from time to time (though I was still upset that they ran out of curry sauce), but to have indefinite plans for serving a printed menu item? I would think you could either make sure you’ve got your lineup ready before opening, take it off the menu until you’re ready (you could make it into a “daily special”), or at least put a note over the item on the menu itself so people know not to get hungry over it. T ended up with the Phileas Cheesesteak, which was good and standard for a non-Philly-style sandwich, but we have been spoiled with good cheesesteaks that make our standards quite high.
I ordered the fish and chips as it seemed like a good item to test the menu. I actually wanted to specifically compare curry sauces, as the best one I’ve had so far has been at Dublin’s Irish Pub in Mammoth, CA. Alas, Phileas was out of curry sauce. I also suspect my crispy fish suffered from the aforementioned short-staffing. It was still hot when I got it, but the bottom layer had gotten all soggy and didn’t want to stay on the fish. The fish was good (1 large piece among semi-crisp but well-seasoned fries), but I found myself longing for the fish and chips from Patrick’s, the Irish pub in Poway. There, you get smaller pieces (but not much smaller), but still a substantial amount of food and the lemon mayo sauce that comes with it is amazingly addictive. I would actually order the dish just to get that lemon mayo. It’s better on fries than anything.
We didn’t get dessert at Phileas, but the dessert menu has chocolate lava cake, cheesecake, ice cream, and one other item (maybe bread pudding?) I’d love to see sticky toffee pudding on the menu, as we had a really decadent one in London and Phileas Fogg is trying to incorporate that comfy British food.
They have also started a beer club, where you mark off 50 beers from around the world and get a polo shirt when you’re done. It reminds me of Spike’s in SLO, where I punched out 2 beers from their list of 40. I’m not a huge beer drinker. At Spike’s, though, you got to engrave a small plaque label when you finished. The beer list at Phileas Fogg is pretty good and varied though, with some Heineken and Foster’s thrown into the mix.
I think Phileas Fogg has a good idea behind it and I hope they are successful enough to stick around. They’re a nice choice for a beer stop, but I’m going to give them more time to work out the serving logistics before making a decision on their food status.
Summary: Go for beer or a glass of wine (they have a nice wine selection) and maybe some appetizers, but give them time before testing it out as a dinner stop. Also, let me know if you hear of sticky toffee pudding rumors.