, one of the most popular eateries in La Mesa, has expanded its lunch menu and is now offering sit-down lunch service.
The restaurant, which is owned by San Diego chef and restauranteur Brian Malarkey, is changing its mid-day vibe, and is now serving selected entrees, and an abbreviated version of its “Bites” appetizers menu for lunch. The full-service lunch began on Monday.
The restaurant previously served lunch, but it was limited to several salads and sandwiches, soups, and bratwurst or sausages, creating more of a “chalkboard walk up café,” said executive chef Ryan Studebaker. The new initiative creates a more comfortable, relaxing environment.
“The new lunch service is more like a full-service sit-down restaurant,” he said. “We are still trying to figure out what works.”
Studebaker said that the “High Noon” entrees – which include baby back ribs, BBQ brisket, and a grilled shrimp skewer – were added after the restaurant received feedback from diners, saying that they wished they could have those items at lunch.
“We’re always trying to listen to our customers,” he said. “Some people didn’t really like the walk-up format. This gives people more options [for lunch]. People don’t come to places like Gingham to have lunch, they come to have an experience. It’s the kind of place now where you can come and eat and relax.”
In addition to the added entrees and appetizers, the restaurant is also now offering three “add-ons” to its salads: grilled chicken, griddled shrimp skewer and smoked salmon. They have also merged a lunch dessert menu with its dinner desserts menu.
Lunch Menu Review
Chef Studebaker brought out three items for me to review. The arugula salad with watermelon, Picholine olives, goat cheese and balsamic vinegrette. The salad was light, but very balanced in flavor with sweetness from the watermelon, tartness from the olives and dressing, with creamy contrast from the goat cheese.
I also tried the baby back ribs and brisket. The meats were incredibly tender and doused with “La Mesa” sauce, which serves as the base for many of the restaurant’s custom barbecue sauces. La Mesa sauce in and of itself is very flavorful, with roasted Roma tomatoes, garlic and spices, blended together to create a smoky, unctuous sauce.
For dessert, Studebaker brought me the Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, which is a baked “cobbler” of sorts. The strawberries and rhubarb are equally sweet and tart, and the oat streusel is tender and moist. The dessert is topped with a mascarpone cheese gelato, which is, in a word, incredible.
The new lunch service runs Monday-Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The kitchen closes at 2 p.m. before re-opening at 5 p.m. for nightly dinner service. The bar and lounge remains open from 2-5 p.m.
Gingham also offers unique Backyard Movie Nights every Wednesday. The back patio is transformed into a makeshift movie theater, with showtimes starting at 7:30 p.m. Guests can watch a flick and dine on tasty offerings. For the rest of May, the restaurant will be showing Tombstone (5/16), Mean Girls (5/23) and Wedding Crashers (5/30). A full schedule can be found on its website.