May 6, 2008

May 6, 2008

Some changes have been in the works at ~15 ROMOLO~ in North Beach, and now it’s official: Scott Baird, the former bar manager at Coco500, and Aaron Smith, a former manager at Coco500 and currently a bartender at Rye, have partnered with Greg Lindgren and Jon Gasparini (Rye, Rosewood, 15 Romolo) to re-concept and relaunch the bar and food program. The plan is to roll back the style of both food and design and incorporate the historical significance of the space (the building is part of the Basque Hotel)—they’re thinking a pre-Prohibition-meets-modern look. The upcoming Basque-inspired menu will be cocktail friendly, with dishes like cured meats and kokotxas, aka fish cheeks, or the meaty part of the jaw. The new concept (and new name, TBD) will launch late summer/early fall. For now, new (and assuredly delicious) cocktails will be on the menu in a week or so. Jen Biesty of Coco500 is rumored to be consulting on the menu later on… Will be able reveal more as things firm up. 15 Romolo Pl. at Broadway, 415-398-1359.

I had a chance to meet with Myles O’Reilly and manager Chris Shelgren last week and tour the upcoming ~MCTEAGUE’S SALOON~ space—it’s opening in the former Johnny Wok location on Polk Street, just next door to O’Reilly’s Holy Grail. No one could ever accuse Myles O’Reilly of dreaming small, that’s for sure. The saloon is named after the book by Frank Norris, McTeague, (Frank Norris Street is a potato’s throw away), and O’Reilly is keen to keep Polk Street’s literary heritage alive. The historic building, one of my very favorites in the City, was incidentally the first building to be built on Polk Street after the 1906 earthquake, and was the home of the famous Tortola. The booths and old chandeliers will remain, plus there will be the addition of some rustic/saloon-style plank tables with stools, and a 44-foot redwood-topped bar, with 18 taps of primarily West Coast ales and microbrews—there will also be an emphasis on bourbons. You’ll be able to shoot some pool at the pair of tables in the back, or watch games on the “necessary evil” of a few televisions at the bar. Some literary readings are also being discussed, and acoustic music.

O’Reilly’s executive chef, Sean Canavan, will be putting together a menu of saloon-friendly food—some items being discussed are sausages, pasties/meat pies, smoked mackerel and trout, a couple soups of the day, and sandwiches. The plan is to open early, around noon or so. Since they got the liquor license from the old Barleycorn, look for a few cameo nights from some of the former Barleycorn bartenders. The opening is slated for early June. 1237 Polk St. at Sutter.

Looks like people will be able to once again say, “Meet me at the Clock.” This summer, Michael Mina is launching his first-ever cocktail lounge, ~CLOCK BAR~, in the lobby of San Francisco’s historic Westin St. Francis hotel. There will be handcrafted and seasonal cocktails, along with some inventive finger food. 335 Powell St. at Post.

Just around the corner, ~FARALLON~ is getting on the cocktail act and introducing vintage cocktails to its bar line-up. Inspired by classic recipes from the likes of “Trader” Vic Bergeron and the original 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, Farallon’s bar manager, Craig Lane, has added a 1944 Mai Tai, using Lane’s handmade orgeat, the Honeymoon (a twist on the Sidecar), the Pendennis Club Cocktail (based on the Pegu Club Cocktail), and more. 450 Post St. at Powell, 415-956-6969.

During San Francisco Cocktail Week, and on World Cocktail Day (May 13th), another event that’s happening is a ~THREE-COURSE BEER DINNER~ at Monk’s Kettle with Grant Wood, the Samuel Adams master brewer. The event is in celebration of American Craft Beer Week. Tuesday, May 13th, 6pm, $50. 3141 16th St. at Albion. To make reservations, call 415-865-9523.

The folks at Rye didn't want to miss out on the festivities at Absinthe for the finale of San Francisco Cocktail Week on Monday, May 19th, so this month they are hosting their ~MONTHLY MIXING COMPETITION~ on a Tuesday instead. This time it’s with Hendrick's Gin, bringing a unique twist to the monthly event: bartenders will need to create an original cocktail that specifically showcases one of the Hendrick’s Gin botanicals (cucumber, rose petal, juniper berry, caraway seed, coriander, cubeb berry, angelica, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, or meadowsweat), and then present said cocktail with a spoken limerick! (Bartenders, when your cocktail is presented to the judges, you are permitted to speak just one limerick [five lines]—this can be used to describe your cocktail, talk about the chosen botanical, educate about gin, cocktail culture, cucumber farming, or simply humorous current affairs.) The champion shall be the one with the tastiest cocktail and the sharpest limerick! Entries to be submitted via email by May 12th to Cheryl CRiley [at] wgrantusa [dot] com and Charlotte CVoisey [at] wgrantusa [dot] com. Ten finalists will be selected to make and present their cocktail to a panel of judges at the final party at Rye on Tuesday, May 20th at 7pm. 688 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-786-7803.

And now, here’s something else to cheers to. With Mother’s Day also falling on the kick-off day to ~NATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH WEEK~ this year (May 11–17), Clos du Bois and WomenHeart are celebrating women across the country and inviting friends and family everywhere to visit and send a free e-card or “e-toast” benefiting women with heart disease, the number one killer of women in America. For every e-card sent, Clos du Bois will donate $1 to WomenHeart. The goal is to raise at least $25,000 this May!

In support of taking steps towards a healthier heart, the site also includes “lighthearted” eating tips, heart healthy recipes, and Mother’s Day meal ideas (with wine pairings, of course) designed to inspire women to take simple steps towards a longer, healthier, and happier life. The newly released WomenHeart’s ALL HEART Family Cookbook is also available at, featuring 40 foods scientifically proven to promote heart health and prevent heart disease… Including red wine!

In tandem with this program, Clos du Bois is also generously offering a complimentary flight (tasting of any five wines) to any tablehopper readers who mention Toast to Mom in the Clos du Bois tasting room throughout the entire month of May.

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