The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
September 1, 2015

The bar at Lord George. Photo by Marcell Turner Photography.


Design details at Lord George. Photo by Marcell Turner Photography.


The exterior window. Photo by Marcell Turner Photography.

At last, Ezra Berman and Miles Palliser (The Corner Store, San Francisco Athletic Club) are ready to reveal their plans for the former Nova space in SoMa, because, well, their new place is open. (Well, softly open—the grand opening is this Thursday September 3rd at 7pm.) Meet ~THE LORD GEORGE~, a “cocktail house” designed to appeal to neighbors and Giants fans, both when the game is on and when it isn’t.

The name takes its inspiration from “Lord” George Gordon (i.e., not a lord, although he acted like one), who built South Park and helped create a little slice of well-to-do London in San Francisco in the 1850s.

The executive chef is Nick Adams (The Corner Store, formerly Salt House, Town Hall), who is putting together a menu of shared plates, with food designed for gathering (and drinking). Dishes include an array of tartines (whipped avocado with goat cheese, lemon, soft herbs, and blossoms; crispy duck confit with plum, five spice, and shallots; roast strawberry with ricotta, pistachio, and honey; and one with prosciutto, Gruyère, and egg), salads (a chopped salad with Green Goddess and an heirloom tomato panzanella), plus a couple of soups (seafood bisque, summer corn). Oysters will be served from the marble raw bar up front (look for three or four kinds nightly) and served late (along with some cheese and charcuterie and other bar snacks after 10pm).

Dustin Sullivan (formerly Fog City, Picco) is the cocktail and beverage director and will be offering a top-tier bar, with quite the list of cocktails, 18 in all. There are two lists: the simple and the fancy, depending on what you’re in the mood for. Maybe both. The simple side of the list includes a French 75, gin martini, and Manhattan bottle service for four to six people for $45. On the fancy side, there’s the Inside Job (rye, spicy ginger, maple, lemon, seltzer, bitters) and the Oxford Comma (Armagnac, aquavit, dry vermouth, maraschino, grenadine)—and yes, we love the name. All cocktails clock in at $10-$13. There are six wines on tap, including one sparkling, and 20 or so bottles (old and new world).

The space was designed by Clinton Miller of Parisa O’Connell. The long bar was refinished, and the back bar was built out in mahogany (the oak floors were also refinished). The banquettes were taken out, and six high-top tables built for socializing were put in. There’s a green tufted leather booth in the back, with a marble-topped table (matching the marble used for the oyster bar in the front). For a touch of glimmer, there are three Deco-looking chandeliers, but when you look more closely, you’ll see they are made of test tubes with corks inside. The interior is meant to feel classy and fun and vibrant all at once—stylish but not stuffy.

Hours are Mon-Thu 11:30am-1am, Fri 11:30am-2am, Sat 10am-2am, and Sun 10am-1am. 555 2nd St. at Bryant.


The chic cabin interior of The Lodge. Photo courtesy of Alexeis Filipello.


Wood paneling forever. Photo courtesy of Alexeis Filipello.

We are thrilled to announce that after teasing us on Instagram with sneak peeks of taxidermy, Alexeis Filipello (Bar Dogwood, Stag’s Lunchette, Darling’s Elixirs) and Matt Eiseman are ready to open ~THE LODGE ON PIEDMONT~. As we previously reported, it’s opening in the former Egbert Souse’s in North Oakland, but you will hardly recognize the place. What was a dark and rather dodgy bar has been transformed into quite the lodgelike atmosphere. It has some Tahoe cabin throwback kitsch to it, starting with the exterior, which has new framed windows to let in some light and a log cabin set on the roof. You can’t miss it.

Inside, there is a 30-foot redwood bar with room for 25 (the front of it was made to look like tooled leather); walls made of redwood, alder, and nutmeg; a paint-by-numbers mural that Filipello commissioned for the space (she collects paint-by-numbers pieces); custom lighting (yay, smoky glass); two-top and six-top tables; and of course plenty of taxidermy, plus a brown bear pelt a friend gave to them (which they installed on the ceiling). They really enjoyed working with Ecological Builders on the space and had such nice things to say about them (and their landlord, the Weinsteins).

The duo really wanted to create a neighborhood bar, so while the cocktails will feature some quality spirits and fresh ingredients, they won’t be too precious—just simple and good. Look for four or five classics, plus well drinks to fit everyone’s budget. Filipello did mention there is an adult slushie machine, which they will be making an amazing piña colada with, featuring agricole rum and no sugar—cane syrup is more their style. There will also be some local beers, and Spanish and Italian wines.

As for the menu, you’re the first to take a look. You’ll be able to snack on a house-smoked pork and cheese plate, spicy Rocky wings with habanero and aji (that you can dip into smoked blue cheese sauce), and chicken chicharrones with lime-chile dust and bird’s eye chile sauce. Yeah, good stuff.

There’s also boar sausage made with St. George Terroir gin, housemade venison and veal sausage in puff pastry with spicy mustard and caramelized onion, and a steak sandwich with cheddar beer sauce. No fear, vegetarians, there’s a vegetable sandwich on Dutch crunch, a customizable grilled cheese menu, and avocado toast. Filipello only uses quality ingredients, and everything the menu is still less than $10 (except for the steak sandwich, which is $15, and the smoked pork and cheese plate for $12). It will be a limited menu to start; look for mac and cheese soon and a full fondue spread in the winter, oh you know it.

Pssst, there’s also a small outdoor space in the back, with German hofbrau tables. Go ahead and let that be a local’s secret. Also of note: there is a TV in the back of the space, but it will only be playing big games and won’t always be on.

For the first few months, The Lodge will only be open until 12am, but hours will extend soon. For now: Mon-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sun 12pm-12am. 3758 Piedmont Ave. at MacArthur, Oakland, 510-350-8470.


The Elbo Room. Yelp photo by Omar K.


The original interior at The Alembic. Photo by Jennifer Yin via Postcard Communications.

Hoodline reports that the Bubble Lounge, which closed in May, is now reopening as ~BARBAROSSA~. Owner Eric Benn has brought on Arash Ghanadan of Novela as a new partner and is giving the space a facelift. When they reopen, the bar will have a Barbary Coast theme, as a nod to the building’s previous incarnation as a prison (oooh) and wholesale liquor warehouse. They’ll be focusing on happy hour, with a cocktail list, good beers, and wines available by the glass. There will still be plenty of Champagne and dancing too. The plan is to open in mid-October. 714 Montgomery St. at Washington.

It sounds like the beloved ~ELBO ROOM~ might not be closing imminently, as expected. KQED reported that owner Matt Shapiro posted an announcement on his Facebook page stating that the club’s lease has been extended another year, and it will go month-to-month in 2016. They could still have to close after that, but this is certainly good news for fans of the live music (and strong drink) venue. 647 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-552-7788.

The Elbo Room is passing along good vibes to another local gem of a bar that needs it right now. As you likely know, ~THE RIPTIDE~ was badly damaged in a fire on August 18th. The bar sustained at least $600,000 in damage and is currently closed until repairs can be made. But you can help! And this is a bar, so you know the effort will be fun. Friends of the Riptide and Elbo Room are coming together on Thursday September 3rd to raise money for the rebuilding of the fabulous bar. The party is at Elbo Room starting at 8pm. There are more than six bands playing, plus DJs spinning music. There will be drink specials, a raffle, silent auction, and more to raise money. Check out all the details (and tell your friends!) on the Facebook event page. And if you can’t make it, never fear! You can also donate here. 647 Valencia St. at 17th St., 415-552-7788.

Good news: ~THE ALEMBIC~ has reopened, but the new/expanded space isn’t quite open yet. You can take a sneak peek on Hoodline (there will be more room for groups, yay), and we’ll update you on the final unveiling. We’ll also be telling you about new executive chef Dave Faro’s menu soon (Broke-Ass Stuart shared the news of Ted Fleury’s departure here).


Wine and pizza at Ragazza. Photo from Facebook.

It looks like there’s a new wine bar in the Excelsior/Mission Terrace, called ~SIP WINE BAR~. It’s above Bottoms Up and is actually owned by the same people, according to the liquor license. They are offering a changing wine list with wines from all over the world, as well as local selections. There are also four beers on tap, as well as soju and sake. The space, which has been remodeled with a sleek, modern vibe, is also available for private parties. Hours are Wed-Sat 6pm-2am. 4704 Mission St. at Persia, 415-337-1678.

Darling little pizza girl ~RAGAZZA~ is turning five this month, can you believe it? Toast to their half decade in business with half-priced glasses of wine this month. The specials are happening Monday through Friday, 5pm to 6:30pm until September 30th. Buon compleanno, Ragazza!

Catch a special winemaker dinner at ~SPRUCE~ on Tuesday September 22nd. Italian winemakers Ar.Pe.Pe. from Lombardia will be in attendance, pouring their wines to pair with the four-course dinner. Ahhhhh, Valtellina! Chefs Mark Sullivan and John Madriaga have created a menu inspired by the region and the wines, while Isabella Pelizzatti, from the fifth-generation family of winemakers, will be talking about their winery and pours. Check out the menu and get tickets here. Tickets are $190 per person and include wine, dinner, and gratuity.

August 18, 2015

Black Hammer Brewing, with an excited bartender. Photo from Facebook.

A report by Dana Eastland. The latest brewery to hit the scene is ~BLACK HAMMER BREWING~, which is now softly open in SoMa. It is owned by Jim Furman, and head brewer Bryan Hermannsson is brewing German-inspired beers like a kölsch and Oktoberfest, as well as a squid ink IPA, an English ale, and their very own Nautilus hibiscus saison. They aren’t serving food, but takeout from nearby restaurants is encouraged, and they’re working on getting together a lineup of beer-friendly food trucks to pull up in front. The look is rather industrial, with handmade wooden tables and a bar, and garage doors that roll up for ventilation and sunshine on nice days. They are still working out the hours but will be closed Tuesdays; call before heading in. 544 Bryant St. at Zoe, 415-997-9253.

North Beach has an Irish pub called ~BAR NUA~ that just opened in the former Trattoria Volare. The space, right across from Washington Square, has great views and people watching, and comes from Vivian Michael Walsh, who also owns Durty Nelly’s and Martin Mack’s. There are cocktails, including a “Best Damn Bloody Mary,” as well as beer and wine. 561 Columbus Ave. at Union.


The original interior at The Alembic. Photo by Jennifer Yin via Postcard Communications.


The vintage vibe at The Riptide. Yelp photo by Jim M.


Things are getting close with ~THE ALEMBIC~’s expansion and new dining room (yay, there will be even more room to enjoy chef Ted Fleury’s awesome cooking). They are looking at temporarily closing for some final construction from Sunday August 23rd through Thursday August 27th (subject to change). When they reopen, the team will still be putting finishing touches on the space, but it’ll be pretty close to finished. I’ll keep you posted with a peek at the expanded space and renovations in early September. As for the temporary closure, call 415-666-0822 or check The Alembic’s social media before heading over.

Really sad news: SFist reports there was a fire at ~THE RIPTIDE~ this morning (ugh). It looks like the quirky little beach bar will be closed for a while (a post by the bar on their Facebook page says it is “completely devastated”). Such a shame, hopefully some of the knotty pine will survive? 3639 Taraval St. at 47th Ave., 415-681-8433.

There’s an ownership change at Lower Nob Hill/Union Square’s ~CANTINA~: Andrew Chun (Press Club, Schroeder’s) has taken over from former owners Duggan McDonnell, Aaron Prentice, and Christine Larsen (it opened in 2007). In an email, Chun says, “We love the bar and are big fans of Cantina. We are keeping the staff, concept, and name. We may do some minor touch-ups over the next few months, but most of the changes will be to the back of house.” So for now, the pisco punch by the pitcher continues! 580 Sutter St. at Mason, 415-398-0195.

As for Mr. Duggan McDonnell, I am happy to report I am looking at a preview copy of his new book, Drinking the Devil’s Acre: A Love Letter from San Francisco and Her Cocktails, which is coming out on September 15th (you can pre-order it at Green Apple Books here)! So excited to crack this one open and start reading it. Here’s what Duggan has to say about it: “I was certain the world didn’t need another cocktail book chockablock with recipes and pretty photos. I was also certain that there has not been enough narratives published on the subject of the bartender’s life. Inside its pages are many amazing recipes, with archived photos sourced by yours truly and beautiful photos shot by Luke Abiol—but it isn’t a book that belongs strictly on the coffee table or in the liquor cabinet.

“All of the prose in this book is autobiographical; every word is my experience of history, of shaking, serving and sipping the most significant cocktails to the city of San Francisco. Perhaps Drinking the Devil’s Acre will also thrive on the nightstand.

“Whether you’re a native, a current resident, or someone who has only visited San Francisco but once, remember the subtitle: A Love Letter from San Francisco and Her Cocktails. This book was written for you.” Sweet. And look for a lot more about this book release in coming weeks—you know there will be parties, and drinks.


On Wednesday August 26th, Oregon wines will be taking over the Presidio’s Golden Gate Club at Pinot in the City. The event is put on by the Willamette Valley Wineries Association and will feature more than 65 wineries from Oregon’s wine country. Many of the winemakers will be in attendance, so you’ll have the chance to chat with them about their pours. The event will be focused on pinot noir, the region’s best-known grape, but there will be wines made from other varieties, too, like pinot gris, pinot blanc, and chardonnay. For a full list of participating wineries, head right this way.

From 12pm-4pm the event is trade only, and those of you in the trade can register for that portion here. The event will be open to the public from 6pm-9pm, and tickets are $75 in advance, or $80 at the door. The Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop at Sheridan.

August 4, 2015

The exterior of the former Horner’s Corner. Yelp photo via Sandro T.

The former Horner’s Corner on Church Street is going to be transformed into ~HAMLET~, thanks to owner John Dampeer, who previously turned Joe’s 24th Street Café into Caskhouse. Noe Valley SF originally reported he was going to overhaul the space and install a new bar, flooring, and change the entire layout, and now SFoodie shares some additional details.

There will be a full bar (with well-executed cocktails), craft beers, and quality wine selections. Caskhouse chef Alex Gutierrez will be helming the kitchen, which will be “a modern California-style eatery, with a combination of small plates and entrées.” Yeah, the entire pub atmosphere will be gone. There will be 49 seats, with room for 12-16 on the patio. Looks like it’s actually something for the neighborhood to look forward to this fall. 1199 Church St. at 24th St.


Harmonic Brewing. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

Beer is the word these days, and the craft brew craze continues with ~HARMONIC BREWING~, which UrbanDaddy reports is opening later this week in Dogpatch. The sudsy project is from owners Ed Gobbo and Jon Verna, who are brewing seasonal and experimental beers, in addition to a signature brew called the Rye Old-Fashioned Pale, a pale ale inspired by the classic cocktail.

The space is in a former warehouse (this is Dogpatch, after all), with high ceilings, warm wood, big windows, and plenty of stools for enjoying your pint. Eventually, they’ll have 12 beers on tap, but for now there are only 4 while they ramp up operations. 1050 26th St. at Minnesota, 415-608-9032.


Robata from Pabu, included in their sake tasting classes. Photo from Facebook.

Anyone who enjoys sake, or just wants to learn more about it, needs to meet sake sommelier Stuart Morris at ~PABU~. Starting on Saturday August 8th, he is going to be leading a monthly class about the history, art, craft, and brewing of sake. During the hour-long class, guests will taste different styles of sake and learn about pairing. The $75 price includes the sake tasting, a cheese plate, robata, oysters, and sweet miso octopus salad. 2pm-3pm. Future dates: September 12th, October 10th, November 14th, December 12th. 101 California St. at Front, 415-668-7228.

Both locations of Dosa, ~DOSA ON FILLMORE~ and ~DOSA ON VALENCIA~, have launched a new late-night happy hour. You can order snacks like their awesome vada pav sliders, pakoras, and idli fries for $4-$9, plus specials on beer ($4), wine ($7), and a couple of $8 cocktails from the Spice Route cocktail menu. Regular happy hour is Mon-Thu 5pm-7pm; it kicks in again Mon-Thursday 9pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 9pm-12am.

The next time you visit ~HAWKER FARE~ on Valencia, Troy Bayless and Christ Aivaliotis of Wizard Oil Co. have launched a new tropical cocktail menu featuring specialty concoctions and tributes to classic tiki. Upstairs in the Holy Mountain bar, you’ll also find a new menu that pays homage to James Bond (of course there is a Vesper on there). All cocktails are $12 each. Come by Fri-Sun 2:30pm-5pm for Tiki Hour, with half-priced bar bites like their blistered green beans, green papaya salad, and fried chicken. 680 Valencia St. at 18th St., 415-400-5699.

Speaking of fun new cocktails, did you know that ~CENTRAL KITCHEN~ offers a swell Sunday brunch on their patio, complete with cocktails? It’s a fact. They’ve recently launched some new beverages, too, all named after local beaches. Keep in mind these are all lower-proof options, making them just right for a day in the sunshine. Check out the Stinson, with manzanilla sherry, grapefruit shrub, and lemon, or perhaps the Baker Beach is more your speed, with peach, cinnamon, and sparkling wine. For “dessert,” consider the Bodega Bay, with Death and Taxes black lager and coffee ice cream. Brunch is served Sundays from 10:30am-2pm.

July 28, 2015

The interior of Scotland Yard. Photo courtesy of Scotland Yard.


The bar at Scotland Yard. Photo courtesy of Scotland Yard.

The former Bin 38 space in the Marina was taken over earlier this year by Brian Cassanego and Jeff Gabrielson of Hayes Valley’s Noir Lounge, with a project called ~SCOTLAND YARD~. The Victorian-themed bar is opening its doors on Thursday July 30th, serving craft beer, wine, and food from Bin 38 chef Jason Raffin, with a menu of seasonal, California-style bites.

Menu items include baby Yorkshire puddings with aerated cheese and leek powder ($7); bone marrow with parsley, fennel, and toast points ($14); kale Caesar with poached egg, cherry tomatoes, and fried shallots ($7/12); clam chowder puff pie ($14); and a yard burger with bone marrow aioli, aged English cheddar, and cornichon remoulade ($13). The beers are generally local, craft brews, and wines are sourced from smaller/low-production wineries.

Gi Paoletti designed the new space, which is heavily influenced by the opulence and indiustrialization of the Victorian era. A wall in the dining room was removed to create a more open space, and a zinc-topped standing bar has been positioned in the front of the room. Toward the back is the main bar, made with dark wood and accented with iron straps, while metal and glass pendants are intended to evoke the classic London streetlamp. There is also flocked wallpaper, lots of metallic touches, and gold chandeliers to keep the whole thing feeling “phancy.” They’ll officially open on Thursday July 30th. Open Sun-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-1:30am. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-872—6853.


Belle Cora. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography courtesy of UrbanDaddy.

We broke the story in April that Teague Kernan of Tupelo has a new project in North Beach called ~BELLE CORA~. Now Hoodline reports it officially opened its doors yesterday, Monday July 27th, in the former Dell’Uva space. The interior has gotten a refresh with help from Julie Brown of Re:Design, with lots of wood, red paint, and leather, evocative of North Beach’s history and old-world style. There is also lots of outdoor seating on the front patio, with room for 32, along with the 34 interior seats.

For Kernan, it’s all about providing an inviting, comfortable atmosphere for the neighborhood. There are 30 wines available by the glass (prices range from $8-$12) from wine consultant Paulina Krol, who has made sure there is something for everyone to enjoy. There are lots of European selections, as well as some more unusual choices from other parts of the world. There are also 7 beers on draft and an additional 30 available by the bottle. The menu comes from chef John Kenner and is designed with sharing in mind. They don’t have a full kitchen, so they’ve been creative with crafting dishes that don’t require a gas oven, grill, or fryer. They’ve got a German pretzel, cheese and charcuterie plates, and some seafood options like ceviche. They are doing weekend brunch on Saturdays and Sundays 10am-3pm, with Benedicts, French toast, and bottomless mimosas. 565 Green St. at Columbus, 415-872-5451.


Tasting at the Craft Spirits Carnival 2014. Photo by Drink Me Magazine via Facebook.

On Tuesday August 4th, ~LOCANDA~ is hosting Alberto Aiello Graci from Graci winery in Sicily for a special winemaker dinner. There will be a special menu inspired by Sicily, with dishes like a gypsy pepper and tuna conserva, housemade busiate pasta with Trapani pesto, and coniglio alla Siciliana. The dishes will all be available à la carte, so you can choose which dishes to pair with your wine selection. Reservations are available for 5:30pm, 7:30pm, and 9:30pm.

For a major tasting of booze, don’t miss the Craft Spirits Carnival on Saturday and Sunday August 15th and 16th at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. The weekend includes 200 different spirits from more than 80 different distilleries, plus beer and wine. Fortunately, there will be food vendors on-site to keep you going, and you can check out the full list of participants here. You’ll also be able to purchase bottles of spirits you like. The tasting runs from 2pm-5pm both days, and tickets start at $80 for general admission and $150 for VIP, which gives you access to the wine lounge and 1pm entry. There are also trade tickets available for $25. Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, 2 Marina Blvd. at Laguna.