May 27, 2015

May 27, 2015
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House Rules. Photo by Hardy Wilson, courtesy House Rules.

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The burger. Photo by Hardy Wilson, courtesy House Rules.

Opening tonight on Polk Street (previously Uno Dos Tacos) is ~HOUSE RULES~, a Russian Hill bar and restaurant from Rick Howard and Noelle Calixto (Campus in the Marina and Eddie Rickenbacker’s in the FiDi). Chef Scott Youkilis (Hog & Rocks) is behind the menu, which includes bar bites, plus dinner and weekend brunch dishes. You’ll find bar snacks like dirty martini deviled eggs, lobster salad sliders, and potato skins con queso, plus there are burgers, sandwiches (like grilled fish), and salads.

As for the cocktails, the new bar consulting company from Anderson Pugash (owner of Palm House and Bergerac) and Anthony Parks (former beverage director of Palm House and Bergerac), Fifty/Fifty, put together a list of 10 house cocktails, including the Frenemy (reposado tequila, Lichi-Li, Dolin blanc, habanero grapefruit bitters). There are also brunch cocktails as well.

Michael Brennan designed the 49-seat space, which has 25 seats at the bar and 12 outside. The look is contemporary meets classic, with lots of wood, leather, and brick, rich colors, and a fireplace. And, of course, there’s some Brennan funkiness with a classroom vignette above the door. Open Tue-Fri from 5pm-2am and Sat-Sun 11am-2am. 2227 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-722-9109.

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The Cognac Room bar. Photo by R. Brad Knipstein Photography.

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The Calvados Negroni. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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Pineapple Apricot Tropical. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

A report by associate editor Dana Eastland. ~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ just celebrated their first anniversary, and to celebrate they are relaunching the upstairs bar, The Cognac Room, which offers a wide selection of brandy, Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, eau-de-vie, pisco, and grappa. They’ve brought on lead bartender John Codd to create an extensive menu of brandy-based cocktails, and I recently had the chance to meet with him and sample a few of his drinks. Codd previously worked at The Slanted Door and The Coachman, and before that he was at 15 Romolo. His new cocktails include eight signature drinks created for the Cognac Room, along with 40 other brandy-based cocktail classics that have been gently updated.

The menu is organized into six categories: Cognac, brandy, Armagnac, Calvados, pisco, and eau-de-vie and grappa. In addition, the menu opens with the signature cocktails; you can see the whole menu right here. It’s an extensive menu, and the knowledgeable staff does a great job of walking you through the various brandy varieties. To start, begin with the Calvados Negroni, made with Calvados in place of gin just in time for Negroni Week. Or, for something a bit lighter, consider the French 75, with Cognac, lemon, and sparkling wine.

The exploration continues with the Cognac category, where the Champs-Élysées features Cognac along with Chartreuse, lemon, and Angostura and orange bitters. As you move into pisco territory, the Pineapple Apricot Tropical with pisco, lime, pineapple gum, orchard apricot, and Angostura bitters offers a refreshing break from the ubiquitous pisco sour (don’t worry, they’ve got a version of that, too, and it’s delicious).

In addition to the cocktail options, general manager John Allen has created a large spirit list organized by region, with selections from all over the world. For those curious about brandy, there will be flights of different varieties available, including pisco and Armagnac. As for food, Gaspar’s menu will be available at the bar, though it’s a pretty sexy, dimly lit space for a full meal—I’d stick with appetizers and smaller dishes. Chef Chris Jones is working on a special bar menu of smaller plates, as well, including a delicate truffled egg custard served in an eggshell.

The space was designed by owner Franck LeClerc and architect Elmer Lin of Consortium Design, and has a great old-school vibe. For more details on the design, check out this tablehopper piece about its opening. Hours are Sun-Tue 4pm-10pm and Wed-Sat 4pm-11pm, with a happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm.

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Chardonnay and pinot noir heaven. Photo courtesy of Patz & Hall.

This Friday May 29th, head to the ~FERRY PLAZA WINE MERCHANT~ for a night of tasting Hitachino Nest beers. The special tasting runs from 4:30pm to 7:30pm, and importer Michael Hartman will be on hand, talking about the beers and sharing limited-edition pours. The special flight for the evening includes five different beers, including the XH shochu cask-aged beer and Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale. In addition, anyone who purchases the flight will get 15 percent off any retail purchase of beers in the flight, sweet. Flights are $16 per person, no reservations or tickets required. 1 Ferry Building, Shop 23, at Embarcadero, 415-391-9400.

~LOCANDA~ is hosting Italian winemaker Bruno de Conciliis of Viticoltori de Conciliis on Wednesday June 3rd. His wines will be paired with dishes inspired by the Amalfi Coast and Campania. The menu will be available à la carte, and wine director Sally Kim will be available to help with pairings. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

Don’t forget the very special wine tasting co-hosted by tablehopper with Patz & Hall on Friday June 12th at 6:30pm. It’s at Naked Kitchen and includes a dynamic wine tasting led by Patz & Hall co-founders James Hall and Heather Patz, who will explore the intricacies of terroir and the diversity of chardonnay and pinot noir through a side-by-side comparison of five single-vineyard wines. There will also be charcuterie, custom-made with Patz & Hall wines by noted local charcutier Peter Temkin (Show Dogs, Foreign Cinema), plus local Sonoma cheeses. Tickets are available on Sosh and cost $65 per person, all inclusive. Don’t miss it, and see you there!

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The exterior of the Bubble Lounge. Photo from Yelp.

After 17 years of business downtown, ~THE BUBBLE LOUNGE~ has closed. Scoop reports that owner Eric Benn plans to keep the space and reopen it with a different concept. The lounge opened in late 1997 and has been serving Champagne and sparkling wine ever since. They have a full liquor license, so it will be interesting to see what happens when they reopen. 714 Montgomery St. at Washington.

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