Dave McLean, like a proud papa in front of Smokestack’s two Little Red Smokehouses. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The custom grills (which are rotisserie-ready!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The future meat counter (the smokers and grills are in the back of the kitchen). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
A peek at the in-progress dining room (looking toward 3rd Street), with the bar to the right. Note the high ceiling. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Last week I headed over to Dogpatch to check out Dave McLean’s shiny new Magnolia Brewery, and to take a look at the upcoming ~SMOKESTACK~ restaurant space. The brewery is mighty impressive—a 30-barrel setup instead of the previous 7—which will yield about 5,000 barrels of beer a year (versus the previous 1,000-barrel production), and that’s only using about 25 percent of the space’s current capacity. But it’s not only about stepping up production: McLean explained that since shifting to the new system, he now has room to make some smaller batches of experimental and seasonal beers at the Magnolia Haight location. The team is brewing at Dogpatch about two or three times a week, and the taste I shared with Dave of their Proving Ground was a sweet moment: he said the way the beer tastes right now is the way he always envisioned it. Aptly named, that beer.
So, the restaurant! To recap, it’s a barbecue concept, led by Namu Gaji’s chef Dennis Lee. The name, Smokestack, is in fact a reference (which any Deadhead will know) to the song “Smokestack Lightning.” Kevin Landwehr and Devin Becker of the New York design firm Nothing Something are behind the very custom and thoughtful design, which has a lot of texture and unique elements; they want the place to feel warm and like it’s been there for some time. But this definitely isn’t just another study in reclaimed wood/Edison bulb/subway tile, no sir. If you have four minutes, I’d watch this video about their design process, since it offers a good peek at the brewery and restaurant spaces (and the brewery’s first batch of beer!).
The 80-seat space is going to have an airy BBQ joint-meets-brewpub feeling. When you enter from 3rd Street, there will be nook-like seating areas to the right and left, and farther back to the left will be a bar with seats for 20, and cool custom metal shelving. There will be a brass panel tap unit, a spot to hand-carve ice (the bar will have a Clinebell unit to make crystal-clear ice), and the bar will be topped with quartzite.
In the back right will be the meat counter, where you’ll place your barbecue order, and it will then be cut on a large cutting board and weighed. The kitchen is pretty tricked out, with two custom grills (plus there’s a motor rotisserie, which can be used for porchetta), and there are two Little Red Smokehouses by J&R Manufacturing in Mesquite (the same folks behind the behemoth smoker at Hi Lo)—McLean said they can run each smoker with different woods.
You’ll also be able to order off an edited list of a few beers (like Magnolia’s Kölsch and IPA) and a whiskey cocktail on tap. Otherwise, once you have your meat, you’ll have to then head to the bar area to get your drinks lined up. (Or you can just divide and conquer if you go with a friend!)
Since it’s open seating, you can find a spot at the three communal tables, and there is talk of having overflow seating in the loading dock area, which will also double as a space for private dinners. Brewery dinners are imminent! Wood barrels and cords of wood for the smoker and grills will be stashed there too.
An interesting note about the tables: they will be made of black acacia, and come from a tree that used to be in front of Dave’s office on Haight Street. The city was cutting the tree down due to a root issue, and the team managed to salvage the wood to mill it for the tables. Dave said the tree was like an old friend, and he’s glad a piece of the Haight will be with him in the Dogpatch.
Additional details about the menu, cocktails, and more will be revealed soon—the opening is timed for about five weeks out, so let’s say March for now! 2505 3rd St. at 22nd St.