Southport Brewing Company, Branford, CT

Keepitcoming and I are back on my home turf for a brief spell and decided to meet up with Swagger for an ALL BLOGGER, ALL EXCLUSIVE POWER DINNER. Actually, it was just a regular dinner, albeit baller as hell, and we didn't talk about blogging.

Our original plans to go to Caseus fell through, due to a disorganized staff, and after enduring that degree of pretension, we all needed a drink. Off we went to SBC. A local favorite in Branford, SBC is standard bar fare with a few exciting twists and an impressive selection of house brewed beers.We were all in the mood for sandwiches and burgers, as it was a cold and dreary night, and started off the meal with the slightly lewd "sticky" calamari. This was really perfect. A giant platter of squid rings with a few tentacles thrown in for good measure, all coated with a sticky sweet chili glaze and topped with sesame seeds. The calamari rings were tender and coated with just the right amount of batter, and were tossed in sauce in time to be brought out and eaten before getting soggy. With the slightly spicy glaze reminiscent of orange chicken, it was a fun and tasty appetizer to share and filled three of us easily.Swagger had the pub burger, with bacon, cheese, and caramelized onions. He said it was a good burger and that it was cooked well, but that the bun was of a low quality and fell apart too easily. The flavor was too overpowering and would have been better with a different bread. The sogginess wasn't helped by the grilled onions, which were too wet and tore apart the bun. The other toppings were fresh and plentiful, though. Seeing the bacon on Swagger's burger made me realize how badly I wanted bacon! It looked hearty and generously portioned.My burger was on a bun I'd been trying to find all over since reading about its popularity in the New York Times- a pretzel bun. God, those are good. So when I saw a pretzel burger with swiss cheese and honey mustard, I had to have it. The bun was cute and shaped like a little pretzel and had that smooth, thick brioche texture, but was extremely bland, aside from a slightly yeasty flavor, and lacked that rock salt on top. It didn't seem to taste like a pretzel and could have stood to be crispier on top. The egginess worked well with the burger, though.The burger itself was not done enough and leaked out juices all over the sandwich, rendering the bottom pretzel bun soggy and hard to maneuver. It was not seasoned at all, aside from its outer char, and had more of a burnt meat flavor than anything else. This completely overpowered the honey mustard, which was already evaporated from the heat of the burger, and mixed with the cheese. Ideally, this would have had more sauce, maybe a mayo or more mustard, and would have been thinner and less charred.Keepitcoming had a grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, brie, and bacon on a whole wheat ciabatta roll and she really loved it. Who doesn't like melty brie? The chicken was tender and moist and grilled perfectly on the outside, with a ripe and creamy avocado studding the inside and constructed on top of the brie so the cheese melted evenly. The bacon had a nice smoky flavor and was perfectly crisped. The bun, like ours, wasn't anything special and tasted more like a standard whole grain bread than a ciabatta roll, but the inner core of flavors were worth it.With these meals were two kinds of fries. Keepitcoming and I got pub fries and sweet potato fries, respectively, and I think we each liked the opposite better, because we kept sneaking off each others' plates! The pub fries were crispy and thickly battered with a nice rock salt coating and a good seasoning. My only complaint was that they were lukewarm when they came out on our plates. Piping hot, I could have eaten more of these.My plate was full of crispy, thin sweet potato fries. These were also fantastic and had the perfect amount of salt. I would have eaten these on their own with a little dipping sauce. They were soft on the inside and naturally sweet.Since SBC's dessert menu looked interesting, we decided to give a few things a try. Swagger opted for the cinnamon creme brulee, and Keepitcoming and I shared a red velvet cupcake. Unfortunately, we should have asked about the desserts being made in house. They were not very good representations of their genre.The creme brulee was cold and had a mushy, yielding layer of sugar on top. The pastry cream was clumpy and tasted more like custard, and we tasted literally no cinnamon at all. The portion was definitely too large for one person to enjoy. I feel that this could have been heavily elaborated on and improved, especially with such a warm, comforting flavor like cinnamon and such a versatile dessert base.To add insult to injury, Keepitcoming and I were served a cupcake that was extremely small. This was a boon in our consumption, though, because the end product was dry, crumbly, and dense. Not at all moist and fluffy like a cupcake ought to be. From the texture and temperature of the cupcake and density of the frosting, it was clear that this was simply thawed out of the refrigerator when ordered.For such an illustrious flavor, the red velvet was bland and not chocolatey or rich. We picked idly at this and didn't bother to finish. A disappointing end to an average dinner, unfortunately. I'd try this again, but at my own risk and at a time with less patronage to ensure more care on my meal. It still beats base treatment at Caseus, though.

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