The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
November 24, 2015

Comfortable seating and plenty of wine at the Maritime Wine Tasting Studio. Photo from Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. There’s a cool new wine bar/tasting room open in North Beach, called ~MARITIME WINE TASTING STUDIO~. Hoodline originally caught the story, and The Chronicle nabbed some additional details.

It’s from Chris Nickolopoulos, the founder and CEO of Maritime Wine Trading Collective, a wine producer, importer, and distributor. Technically, the space is licensed as a tasting room, so they can only sell wine, showcasing the company’s offerings. Wines are available by the flight or glass, or you can purchase them by the bottle at retail (there’s no markup, even if you enjoy it on-site). Wines are international, including small producers from France, Spain, Portugal, and South Africa, as well as California selections including Maritime’s own labels. The space also functions as a bit of a hangout—reportedly, there is WiFi and laptops are allowed. While they can’t serve food, neighboring Brioche Bakery will deliver to the location, and keep your tabs separate. Hours are Wed-Sun 1pm-9pm. 222 Columbus Ave. at Kearny, 415-861-1139.

Did you know that Oakland has tons of urban wineries within its city limits? It’s a fact! If you’d like to explore them (and really, who wouldn’t?), the Oakland Urban Wine Trail is for you. The list of wineries is right on the website, and you can download a handy map to navigate the trail. All the wineries are easily walkable and accessible via public transportation too. Oh, and of course there are plenty of restaurants to explore while you’re out there. Have fun! Locations vary; see website for details.

November 10, 2015

The bar at Barbarossa. Photo by Alex Leber.


The main room at Barbarossa. Photo by Alex Leber.


A lounge area. Photo by Alex Leber.

By Dana Eastland. ~BARBAROSSA~, the bar moving into the former Bubble Lounge in North Beach, is opening next Thursday November 19th (although they are doing some soft opening nights with just cocktails right now). It’s from Bubble Lounge owner Eric Benn and Arash Ghanadan of Novela and has an old San Francisco vibe. Barbarossa means “red beard” in Italian and is a nod to the neighborhood’s Barbary Coast roots, as well as the area’s history as a red-light district.

The bar is helmed by Christina Cabrera (The Progress, 15 Romolo), who is looking to the history of cocktails in San Francisco with her beverage menu. There is a special emphasis on grog, the sailor’s beverage of choice in the 19th century, with a seasonally changing option (perhaps the bar answer on 2014’s porridge trend?). Currently, it’s apple, lemon, and ginger with your choice of spirit, topped with soda—in December, it will become cranberry and hibiscus. There is also a selection of 12 beers on tap, as well as several wines by the glass, including 7 sparkling options—the wide selection is a nod to the space’s past as the Bubble Lounge.

Eddie Lau was the consulting chef on the menu, which is designed for sharing and broken into four categories: From the Ocean; Leaves, Fruits, and Roots; Meats and Cheeses; and Desserts. There are plenty of fresh oysters available in the Ocean section, as well as seasonal ceviche and clams. The produce section includes harissa shrimp with Little Gems and avocado, or try the chile-garlic Brussels sprouts with charred scallion crema. In Meats and Cheeses, there are sausages (from Peter Temkin of Foreign Cinema/Show Dogs), a selection of cheeses, and a pastrami dish available either as a sandwich or a salad. Desserts run the gamut from lemon chiffon wedding cake (because sometimes you just want a good piece of cake) and dark chocolate cookies with Humphry Slocombe Secret Breakfast ice cream.

The space—designed by architect Jacek Ostoya of Gold Grenade—is 6,000 square feet and divided into four spaces: the main room and Bubble Room upstairs, as well as the Living Room and Outlaw Room downstairs. Throughout, there are nods to the building’s history as a jailhouse. There are metals touches including shackles and locks, against the exposed brick. There are also black leather banquettes, vintage-style red sofas, and hardwood floors. Hours are Mon-Wed 4pm-12am, Thu-Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am, and Sun 6pm-12am. 714 Montgomery St. at Washington, 415-434-4204.


Terroir Wine Bar, where the Califermentation event will be held. Photo via Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. Interested in natural wines made in California? It can be hard to find them, but you’ll be able to check out a bunch of them at Califermentation, a natural wine tasting fair on Saturday November 14th. It’s happening at Terroir Natural Wine Bar and Merchant from 2pm-5pm and includes wines from 30 different California winemakers, including La Clarine Farm, Coturri Winery, and Methode Sauvage. Tickets are $40 per person. 1116 Folsom St. at Langton, 415-558-9946.

To celebrate their new retail liquor license, ~BREWCADE~ is hosting a can release party with Fort Point Beer Company. Four of Fort Point’s beers will be available in cans, and you’ll be able to purchase them for $5 each for on-site consumption or $15 for a four-pack. Retail four-packs to go are $12. The party runs from 2pm-6pm, and moving forward, retail sales at Brewcade will be available until 10pm. 2200 B Market St. at 15th St.

This weekend is going to be a big one at ~THE TRAPPIST~, where they are celebrating the incoming cold weather with their Imperial Stout Fest. There will be more than 20 stouts (and some porters) to try, from breweries both local and far-flung, including several European options. The event goes all day (they’re open 12pm-12:30am), and you can check out the beer selection right here.

Then, on Sunday November 15th, they’ll be collaborating on a special Friendsgiving Dinner with Allagash Brewing of Maine. There will be a big, family-style feast at their communal table, and Allagash will offer some rare beer selections, including the 10th Anniversary edition of Interlude, a barrel-aged Belgian-style beer that blends two beers, each fermented with a different yeast strain. Peep the menu and pairings here. Tickets are $75 per person. 460 8th St. at Broadway, Oakland, 510-238-8900.

~FARALLON~ is hosting the 17th Annual PinotFest this month, with tasting menus all month long. You can sample flights until November 30th, catch the special tasting menu until November 21st, and it all culminates in The Great Big Bacchanalia on Saturday November 21st. There will be 60 pinot noir producers in attendance, pouring their wines and discussing them, along with appetizers from Farallon and other local restaurants. Tickets are $125 per person, and the party runs from 3pm-6pm. 450 Post St. at Powell, 4th Floor, 415-956-6969.

On Saturday December 5th, ~DONATO ENOTECA~ in Redwood City will host The Enoteca 100 Grand Italian Wine and Food Tasting Celebration. The tasting features more than 100 wines from Italy, including sparkling wines, Valle d’Aosta, Piemonte, Alto Adige, Friuli, and many, many more. In addition to wine, there will be prosciutto, speck, cheese, sausage, risotto nero, porchetta, and agnolotti dal plin. That’s right, there’s going to be a ton of food and wine to try—don’t miss it! The party runs from 1pm-4pm, with noon entry available for VIP ticket holders. Tickets are $55 per person, $70 for VIP. 1041 Middlefield Rd. at Main, Redwood City, 650-701-1000.


Uncorked’s Morgan Harris, Dana Gaiser, Josh Nadel, Jack Mason, Jane Lopes, and Yannick Benjamin. Photo courtesy of Esquire Network.

Wine lovers and cork dorks, set your DVR for the launch of the television show Uncorked, which premieres tonight (Tuesday November 10th) on the Esquire Network at 10pm/9pm central. The six-episode series is based on the documentary Somm and follows a group of talented sommeliers (Jack Mason, Yannick Benjamin, Jane Lopes, Dana Gaiser, Josh Nadel, Morgan Harris) as they prepare to take the Master Sommelier exam (keep in mind, only 230 people in the world have passed in 40-plus years). I’m extra-interested in watching it because I had the pleasure of traveling with Yannick Benjamin to Portugal last year, and the man is an inspiration, let me tell you. Tune in!

November 3, 2015

Ashleigh Plasterer (left) and Teyler Wallace behind the bar at El Capitan. Photo courtesy of El Capitan.

By Dana Eastland. We happily reported a couple of weeks ago that the ~ORBIT ROOM~ would be reopening after its unfortunate closure earlier this year. Now Scoop reports that the beloved Market Street bar is officially opening on Thursday November 5th, under the leadership of Courtney Ross and Nic DiLillo, friends of late former owner Jay Johnson. Hours are daily 4pm-2am. 1900 Market St. at Laguna, 415-252-9525.

SoMa restaurant ~EL CAPITAN~ now has a full liquor license and has added a cocktail menu to match. Beverage director Ashleigh Plasterer and bar manager Teyler Wallace worked together to develop the menu, which is focused on flavors of the Caribbean. The drinks are designed to pair with chef Mark Furr’s Latin- and Caribbean-inspired food and will change with the seasons.

There’s the traditional Peruvian El Capitan, the restaurant’s namesake cocktail, made with Campo de Encanto pisco, Carpano dry vermouth, cherry heering, and orange bitters, or try the Old Santiago, with Angel’s Envy bourbon, Rum Chata rum cream, cold-brew coffee, coconut milk, and agave. The new cocktail menu can be perused right here. Hours are Tue-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm. 1123 Folsom St. at 7th St., 415-525-3676.


Photo from MatrixFillmore.

If you’re looking for a special meal on Sunday November 8th, visit ~54 MINT~ for their Sagrantino Umbrian Essence dinner, a night celebrating the wines of Montefalco. Top producers will be on-site, and their wines will be paired with a five-course menu of Umbrian specialties. $110 per person, including wine (price not inclusive of tax or gratuity). Limited reservations available 5:30pm-9:30pm. Call 415-543-5100.

On Wednesday November 11th, PlumpJack Group is putting on a Tour de Terroir event, featuring current releases from their wineries: PlumpJack Winery, CADE Estate Winery, and Odette Estate Winery. Winemakers Aaron Miller of PlumpJack, Jeff Owens of Odette, and Danielle Cyrot of CADE will be present. Small bites will be served. 6pm. Tickets are $53.74. MatrixFillmore, 3138 Fillmore St. at Greenwich.


Beer at Precita Park Cafe, ready for food pairings. Photo from Facebook.

By Dana Eastland. ~MAGNOLIA GASTROPUB & BREWERY~ and ~21ST AMENDMENT~ have paired up for their seventh annual BRU/SFO Project, where each brewery makes six Belgian-stye beers over the course of November for your tasting pleasure. Passport cards are available (the title refers to the airport codes of Brussels and San Francisco), and “frequent fliers” who try all 12 beers will receive a special commemorative glass at the end of the month. This week, each brewery will release three of the beers, followed by one per week until the end of the month. 21st Amendment: 563 2nd St. at Brannan, 415-369-0900; Magnolia: 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

On Tuesday November 10th, ~PRECITA PARK CAFE~ is hosting a Fort Point Beer Co. pairing dinner from 6:30pm-9:30pm. The four-course dinner is a celebration of fall, with items like gnudi with guinea roulade, pear sausage, persimmon, and winter pesto (paired with Fort Point’s Treble Hook). The whole menu is right here, and tickets are $75 per person including food, beer, tax, and tip. 500 Precita Ave. at Alabama, 415-647-7702.

October 27, 2015

The Platform room. All photos ©


The main bar (with the last-call bell).


The curving tufted banquette.


The Gin Palace back room and bar.


Farmer’s cheese with turmeric oil, yogurt-roasted carrots, and naan.

Walking through the door at ~WHITECHAPEL~ last Thursday at a preview party, I completely stopped in my tracks. I just wasn’t quite prepared for the extent Martin Cate, Alex Smith, and John Park were going to take this “gin bar and private club in an abandoned London Underground train station” theme—but I also wasn’t surprised, because, hello, Smuggler’s Cove.

The space is truly spectacular. The main room, The Platform, has a barrel-vaulted ceiling that feels just like you walked into a historic London Underground station. Along the right side is a long and curving tufted crimson banquette that forms into booths/cozy seating areas for groups (with marble-topped tables) as it curves along the length of the room. The tile work along the wall is beautiful: the authentic acanthus tiles were designed for the London Underground in 1908, and Fired Earth in the UK still produces them today (to replace tiles in the historic stations). Kudos to Ignacio “Notch” Gonzalez (Top Notch Customz), who designed the bar and is one heck of a craftsman. No detail was ignored, and it also looks like no expense was spared.

To the left is the lengthy bar, with backlit bottles of gin lining the back bar. Whitechapel has more than 350 gins (which will be growing!), making it the largest selection of gin in North America, including rare selections that date back to the 1930s (you’ll see them at the far end of the room in gin lockers). Also of note behind the bar is the last-call bell, cast to order by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, which cast the Liberty Bell and Big Ben—and it’s the UK’s oldest continuously operating business (how’s that for some history?).

If you swing a hard left when you first come into the space, you’ll find a room called The Distillery, with nine “Ginfusion Tubes” bubbling along the walls—which actually contain real gin botanicals—giving it a bit of a mad professor’s workshop vibe. You’ll notice vintage distilling elements and more than 5,000 hand-applied rivets, giving it a quirky industrial look.

If you walk to the back of The Platform room and take a left, you’ll find the Gin Palace, a room with custom wallpaper and a very ornate style. It’s an homage to the public houses that gin brands started in 1820s London. There’s an intimate bar and a smattering of tables and corner booths where you can sit down and enjoy some food from the kitchen.

So, the drinks! The menu is downright impressive, with 18 original cocktails, like the aromatic Gilbert’s Melodeon (Sipsmith gin, green Chartreuse, pineapple gum, mint, lime), all $12-$13. There are more than 100 cocktails in all, showcasing the history of gin and genever. (Take a look at Camper English’s recent piece as he tastes through the cocktails.) Be sure to try the custom house gin made by Distillery 209, the Whitechapel Victorian Dry Gin. Look for upcoming classes, and Keli Rivers will be on the floor to help impart her vast gin knowledge and expertise.

There’s also a kitchen, and chef David Murphy (previously at Uchi, Austin) has crafted a creative menu—with some spins on many classics—that integrates British, Dutch, and Bangladeshi influences (like the farmer’s cheese with turmeric oil, yogurt-roasted carrots, and naan, and the mussels vindaloo with coriander chutney). You can be brave with the brain and toast, and go for the lightened version of Dutch rarebit, with Gouda and beetroot chutney on pumpernickel.

Our table was quite impressed with “a fish and a chip”—which revealed a perfectly fried fillet of rock cod, served with a latke-like potato “chip,” curryracha, and garlic aioli. Another easy bite for people to share is the trio of steam burgers, spiked with tomato marmalade, horseradish tartare, and Cotswold cheese. You’ll note Murphy’s pedigree when the coffee banoffee comes out, a complex and contemporary presentation of a classic dessert that you wouldn’t expect to find in a bar (hello, banana ash). Food is available until midnight nightly, and you’ll eat well.

Come visit this beautiful bar soon, one that San Francisco is so lucky to have. Whitechapel is open Sun-Wed 5pm-1am, Thu-Sat 5pm-2am. 600 Polk St. at Turk, 415-292-5800.


There’s no place like Dave’s. Yelp photo by Andy K.

Some updates for you on recently closed/closing dive bars, starting with ~ZEKE’S~. We saw some ABC license activity hit the wires, and Hoodline followed the story, discovering that the former director of operations for the Golden Bear Restaurant Corporation (MoMo’s, Pete’s Tavern, Pedro’s Cantina), Paul Cardinale, will be taking over the bar. Fortunately he just wants to give it a light update, keep it a neighborhood bar, and plans to open in a couple of months. The new name is ~LOCAL TAP~. 600 3rd St. at Brannan, 415-392-5311.

Also in the “if it’s a beloved dive bar, don’t fix it” category is the news about ~DAVE’S~. Yes, Future Bars is taking it over, but they really want to keep it as is—TVs, beer, and all. But it will have a new name, ~THE LARK~, opening in January 2016. And a new staff. And they will keep making chili dogs. Dave’s last night will be New Year’s Eve. (Via Hoodline.)

More Future Bars news: gossip is rippling around that they are (potentially) opening a tiki bar adjacent to Rickhouse in the FiDi (it seems like it’s going to be an expanded area/tiki room in the current space). Stand by for more news from Doug Dalton and Brian Sheehy on this soon—sounds like springtime will be targeted launch, but permitting has its own timing.

And Hoodline reports ~LUCKY 13~ has reopened its patio after being forced to close it a few months ago due to some licensing issues. Sorted! 2140 Market St. at 14th St., 415-487-1313.


Wine Down’s Jaime Hiraishi and Sarah Garand. Photo courtesy of Wine Down.

Some wino tidbits for you. We have been tracking the upcoming ~WINE DOWN~ since July, and now the owners are ready to talk (they just launched an Indiegogo campaign). Co-owners Sarah Garand and Jaime Hiraishi wanted to create the after-work space they always sought: a comfortable place to enjoy quality wine that wasn’t too expensive. They really care about value (the average glass of wine will be $10), a laid-back and friendly vibe, and sustainability is also important to them.

They will serve local wine (the list of 16 wines will always be changing), craft beer (5), and have some bites too. There will be bottles available for retail sales too. They add: “Some names might be familiar to guests (like Scholium, Broc, and Banshee) and we’re also excited to introduce people to some smaller producers like Harrington Wines from the Dogpatch or Lusu Cellars in Berkeley.” They hope to open in early 2016. 685 Folsom St. at 3rd St.

Fellow lovers of ~K&L WINE MERCHANTS~: do note they are moving into their new and bigger space (in the former TJ Maxx) and are currently closed through Thursday October 29th, reopening on Friday October 30th at 10am. (Thanks, Hoodline!) 855 Harrison St. at 5th St.

More wine shop news: New York’s Flatiron Wines is opening a shop in The Palace Hotel in the former Kyo-ya sushi restaurant. Look for boutique wines, international selections, spirits, and more. January 2016 is the targeted opening. (Via Hoodline.) 2 New Montgomery St. at Market.

October 20, 2015

Photo from last year’s Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle; photo via Facebook.

Mezcal mania will be in full effect for Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle, a full week of mezcal-related activities running November 8th-15th at various Bay Area locations. In addition to a week of special cocktails, mezcal tastings, a “Future of Mezcal” panel discussion, and dishes made with mezcal, it will all culminate in a tasting event on Sunday November 15th at Public Works, where there will be more than 80 kinds of mezcal, makers, and bites and cocktail samples from local restaurants,including 4505 Meats, Loló, Colibri, Salsipuedes, Beretta, Old Bus Tavern, ABV, and more.

A portion of the proceeds from Mezcal Week will go to The Mexican Museum (each participating bar and restaurant will be contributing a percentage of sales on the highlighted drinks and dishes to the museum). Locations include Alembic, Cala, Cosecha, Devil’s Acre, El Techo/Lolinda, La Urbana, The Ramen Shop, Tacolicious, and many others. Follow the Mezcalistas Facebook page for updates.

~THE VESTRY~ at ~THE CHAPEL~ is launching a new happy hour with $9 cocktails (regularly $12) on a new menu by Darren Crawford. It’s called Sinner’s Hour, in honor of the space’s history as a mortuary, and runs Tue-Fri 5pm-7pm, so you actually get two hours of discounted drinks, food (like a fra diavolo pizzetta, hellfire wings, and devils on horseback), and entertainment. It all kicks off with a party this Friday October 23rd, with live music by Americano Social Club and burlesque by Hunny Bunny and Her Hot Toddies, and more. (The party also runs to 7:30pm this week.) 775 Valencia St. at 19th St.

Head to ~POGGIO~ in Sausalito for their second year of their Dieci, Venti, Trenta special: 10 days of 20 bottles for $30. From Wednesday October 21st through Saturday October 31st, you can taste your way through all of Italy’s wine regions, from Trentino-Alto Adige (Lechthaler, Teroldego, 2012) to Calabria (Sergio Arcuri, Ciro, 2012).


The Orbit Room. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

Here’s some good news for fans of ~THE ORBIT ROOM~: after closing in April following the death of owner Jay Johnson, Scoop is now reporting that the bar is coming back, and without too many changes.

Friends of Johnson’s, Courtney Ross and Nic DiLillo, are the new owners, and they don’t plan to mess with the formula very much. (Ross, who was a line cook at Harris’ Restaurant, is handling the food, and DiLillo, a bar manager from the Tempest, is overseeing the cocktails.) They’ll add a new layer of paint and make some repairs, and hope to streamline the drinks so they get made a little faster. They’ll also be adjusting the food to make it more consistent, and there’s talk of special rotating “nights,” like Meatball Mondays and Taco Tuesdays. The liquor license transfer is currently under way, and the plan is to open in the next few weeks. 1900 Market St. at Laguna St.

Not too far away, at ~MAVEN~ in the Lower Haight, the talented and delightful Kate Bolton, an original employee who became a valued equity partner, has decided to leave after four strong years (she has a new child and husband and wants to take a little time away from work to spend it with family). Her last shift is expected to be October 2​9​th​​, so be sure to raise a glass to this fabulous bar manager! Taking over her role will be Tim Hagney, who has been there for the past two years and will continue to develop innovative cocktails. Cheers to all! 598 Haight St. at Steiner, 415-829 7982.