November 29, 2011

November 29, 2011
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The front bar area. Photo by Cindy Chew.

Wow, big (and bummer) news: just two weeks after opening ~PLUM BAR~, consultant Scott Beattie and bar manager Michael Lazar are no longer involved with the project. I had a chance to catch up with Beattie, who said their last day was Friday. He couldn’t comment on the reason(s) for the sudden departure, but he did say he was heartbroken over it, and is feeling very disheartened after the months of work he put into the project. He said he was really enjoying the warmth, receptiveness, and feedback of the neighboring Oakland businesses and community, and was meeting some great people. He said he is going to look to the future, and hopefully find a place to relaunch this cocktail program that had him very excited elsewhere.

The Daniel Patterson Group released this official statement about the matter: “Scott Beattie has completed his agreed upon contract with Plum Bar and we wish him well as he moves onto his next project. Plum Bar will continue to evolve its seasonal, classic cocktails in collaboration with the kitchen teams from Plum and Plum Bar, under the direction of Ron Boyd. Some of this winter’s offerings include Hot Brown Buttered Rum with pink lady apple and warm spices; Pomegranate Sour with bourbon and maple; and The San Franciscan with beet juice, Fernet, Meyer lemon and wild fennel.”

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The current plywood exterior at Murio’s. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

A while back, a tablehopper reader sent me an email asking what was going on at ~MURIO’S TROPHY ROOM~, the grotty dive bar in the Upper Haight with quite the pack of regulars, and some of them were not very nice (I speak from experience, meow). Well, persistence pays off, because after numerous visits to the plywooded-up job site, we finally got some contact info. It ends up one of the current owners, Roger Howell, has brought on a new business partner, Edward Sargent; Howell owns The Attic in the Mission, and previously owned Mad Dog in the Fog. They have been busy gutting the space and building it back up, and have brought on a very cool design team, Haleh Cunningham and Bernadette Holmes of Thornbird Styling (this will be their first commercial space project).

I know, I know, some PBR-swilling trustafarian is waving their fist somewhere, and not in a Jah love kind of way. But sometimes things change—and in this case, the bar is going to look amazing, while still maintaining a neighborhood bar vibe. The name will change to just Murio’s. The ladies (one of whom used to work at Wasteland when it first opened and met her husband there, who worked at Villains—how’s that for some Haight history?) described the look as darker and masculine, with tufted caramel-colored banquettes, sexy 70s wallpaper, moody lighting, vintage and mid-century chairs, and organic surfaces, like copper-topped tables and concrete floors that are designed to weather well. Many of the original elements will remain, like the bar top, the pool table, the exterior sign, the newly recovered barstools, and they’re trying to get the jukebox fixed. The trophies from John Murio (who was a pro tennis player in the 1930s, hence the bar’s name and tennis motif) will stay put as “bar jewelry.” Oh yeah, and PBR will remain on the menu. The cocktail list will be straightforward, with quality drinks but nothing too involved, along with local beers and wines.

New elements include the higher ceiling that was revealed once the drop ceiling was removed, some large 15-foot windows in the front, some low-slung seating in the back, along with a DJ booth for DJs to come in and play music (Ed used to DJ at Nickie’s back in the day), and there will be an additional bathroom. The plan is to softly open the week before Christmas—they are working hard to meet that timing. Hours will be 11am-2am. 1811 Haight St. at Shrader.

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The walls of wine at Arlequin Wine Merchant; photo from Facebook.

Ah yes, it’s that time of the year again: the ~ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT~ Annual Champagne Tasting is coming up on Thursday December 8th. You’ll be able to taste over 30 Champagnes from small grower-producers, including Jacquesson, Lassaigne, Benoît Lahaye, Laherte Frères, Larmandier-Bernier, Paul Bara, Vilmart, and Agrapart et Fils. And if you fall in love with a few (which you will, so bring your credit card), you’ll be able to purchase them at special event pricing. And how convenient, Absinthe is just next door with their soft pretzel bites. 6pm-8pm. $50 per person; pay at the door.

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Blanc et Rouge; photo from Facebook.

On Saturday December 10th, ~SKREWCAP~ will hold their second annual Top 40 holiday tasting at Blanc et Rouge wine bar. Yours truly will be there from 2pm-3pm to share my latest thoughts on the best places to eat in San Francisco, answering questions, and signing and selling my book at a special price ($12).

The event, which runs from 1pm-4pm, includes a tasting led by Skrewcap founder Pamela Busch. Sample 40 wines under $40 from 12 countries. Distributors and importers include Blue Danube Wine Company, Joli Vin Imports, Northwest Wines Ltd., Terra Firma Wine Co., Terrell Wines, Valkyrie Selections, Vinos Unico, Wine Appelations Ltd., and more. All the wines will be available at a 10% discount on the day of the event. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Five percent of event proceeds will go to the San Francisco Food Bank. Validated parking at Embarcadero One. 1pm-4pm, Embarcadero Two at Front, 415-391-0758.

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Event dome at Rock Wall; photo by Rocco Ceselin/BRPACIFIC Inc.

On Saturday December 3rd, ~ROCK WALL WINE COMPANY~ will host a Wine Wonderland Open House at their 40,000-square-foot hangar in Alameda. There will be more than 65 wines to try, including new releases from Rock Wall and wines from their co-operative partners. In addition to tasting the wines, a $35 ticket includes music, photos, treats, winery tours, and free parking. 1pm-5pm. 2301 Monarch St. at West Tower, Alameda, 510-522-5700.

~18 REASONS~ has two events coming up: a sparkling wine tasting and a seasonal beer tasting. On Friday December 16th, drop in between 6pm and 8pm to taste some bubbly. Then head over to Bi-Rite to get 10% off your sparkling wines order. $15 for members, $20 for the general public. On Monday December 19th, drop in between 7pm and 9pm to try seasonal beers. Join Jesse Friedman of Almanac Beer Company, Adam Krammer of Lucky Hand Brewing, and more for sipping and menu pairing tips. $10 for members, $15 for the general public.