Wednesday, December 2, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 39
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Birchwood Beer Garden gives Nipomo residents a family-friendly spot to eat, drink, and be merry at a distance

CAMILLIA LANHAM

It’s hard to tell whether smoke or fog hangs over Nipomo on Sept. 10 as we walk over to Birchwood Beer Garden around 5 p.m. 


Create community
Check out Birchwood Beer Garden on Facebook @BIRCHWOODGARDENSNIPOMO to learn more about food truck nights—days, times, and truck flavors. If you’re looking for a safe place to trick-or-treat this Halloween, Birchwood is hosting a garden trick-or-treat for the kiddos on Oct 30 from 5 to 8 p.m.

THE LITTLE THINGS
Birchwood Beer Garden in Nipomo serves up simple pleasures such as Figueroa Mountain’s Mosaic IPA.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Field to Table Catering & Events’ food truck, The Cruiser, is parked in the front parking lot serving up the Aloha Menu—your choice of Kalua pork sandwich, Huli Huli chicken, garlic shrimp, an ahi poke bowl, or Hawaiian fried rice. 

We step up to the outdoor bar and order our beers—one Space Dust IPA from Elysian Brewing and two Mosaic IPAs from Figueroa Mountain (I guess we’re definitely Californians)—through face masks. After we pay, we turn around to find a spot to sit on the deck. 

Sliding into the seats of a wooden picnic table, I spot a swing hanging from one of the old pepper trees along the beer garden, nursery, and event center’s pathway, which leads into the depths of plant heaven. 

This space has always been a nursery, and Birchwood’s current owners took over about five years ago, continuing to sell specialty plants and adding it to the list of available event spaces in the area.


ROOM TO BREATHE
With ample outdoor seating, spaced out for your social-distancing pleasure, Nipomo’s Birchwood Beer Garden has plenty of space for your crew to eat and drink.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Owner Lauren Withers said they’ve also had food trucks in the parking lot on most Thursdays for the last few years, but Birchwood’s newest addition is the beer garden, which celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 15.

“We came in with the thought that we wanted a community space this summer for the people of Nipomo—and giving them more food options,” Withers said. “And just making it more of a family space instead of just a bar.”

Many of Nipomo’s food options are indoor, which is a no-no during the COVID-19 pandemic, so residents don’t have many options for eating out, Withers said. And when things are “normal,” most of the town’s drinking establishments aren’t exactly kid-friendly. Their intention for opening the beer garden, Withers said, was to give the community a place where they could safely gather in an outdoor space.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, adult beverages are required to be served with food, so Birchwood is now bringing in food trucks to coincide with beer garden hours, Thursday through Sunday afternoons (unless Birchwood is hosting a private event).

“The only option right now is to eat outside, and guess what, the only place we have is to eat outside,” Withers said with a laugh. “We have 3 acres and plenty of space to sprawl out.”


TRUCK TO TABLE
Field to Table’s ahi poke bowl comes with avocado, edamame, white rice, and furikake.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

As the chill in the air starts to become chillier, Withers said they plan to adapt by creating covered areas in the garden and having outdoor heaters.

So far, the food truck nights have been busier than they anticipated, so Withers said Birchwood is already thinking about expanding the eating/drinking area, which is currently on a deck that stretches along one side into the nursery’s succulents area. 

“We’re trying to expand the fenced-off area into the nursery because we can’t keep up,” she said on Sept. 14. “I’m out right now getting more seating. … It’s a good surprise.” 

Another surprise is that Birchwood has been receiving a number of last-minute requests to host small weddings because bigger, indoor event spaces have canceled due to the pandemic. Withers said their pricing is reasonable, and the nursery has a number of different spaces to choose from, such as a patio area, the beer garden, and the pergola. 

But those events do compete with community beer garden time, so stay up-to-date on what’s happening via Birchwood’s Facebook page. 

The regular crew of food trucks includes Cubanissimo, Lidos, Big Truck Foods, Feed My Seoul, and Field to Table. 


ALOHA MENU
The Cruiser, Field to Table Catering & Events’ food truck, served up Hawaiian island fare on Sept. 10 at Birchwood in Nipomo.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

DELISH DISH
Macaroni salad and pineapple fried rice support the salty-sweet crunch of Field to Table’s Kalua pork sandwich, which comes with Asian cabbage slaw and fried shallots on a Hawaiian bun.
PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

The Cruiser from Field to Table, which is out on Sept. 10 serving up island-style deliciousness, is busy. We order the Hawaiian fried rice, a couple of ahi poke bowls, and the Kalua pork sandwich. Served up (except for the fried rice) with white rice, macaroni salad, and a Hawaiian roll, what’s not to like? 

We grab a second round of beers and sit down to feast. And we aren’t disappointed. The pork is salty, sweet, and succulent with a little bit of a crunch. The ahi is fresh with a soy sauce and acid tang. And the pineapple fried rice is delicious—although I wish I had ordered it with the Spam! 

As we finish, my friend eyes the bright pink pop-up tent set up across the garden path. Gina’s Piece of Cake has cupcakes, cookies, and other sweet treats in individual containers. He comes back to the table bearing cupcakes—and yes, a couple of them are absolutely pumpkin spice. I don’t know if you know this, but fall is just about here, and Halloween is on the way. m

Editor Camillia Lanham loved that Kalua pork. Send her foodie salutations at clanham@santamariasun.com










Weekly Poll
Would a second stay-at-home order be effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

No, pandemic fatigue is too high to get people to follow a stay-at-home order.
Yes, we need it, otherwise our hospitals will be in rough shape.
Local governments should get a say—not all purple tier counties are the same.
It would be bad news for the economy.

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