The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
November 15, 2016

What heaven looks like. Photo: Kassie Borreson.


Champagne and chips, oh you know it. Photo: Kassie Borreson.


Champagne, caviar, done. Photo: Kassie Borreson.

Cheers to this: opening this December in Hayes Valley is ~THE RIDDLER~, an all women-funded Champagne bar (with 30 investors!). It’s led by Jen Pelka, currently principal and founder of Magnum PR, and her background includes five years at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel in New York, as a kitchen stagier, chef Boulud’s research assistant, and the US competition director for the Bocuse d’Or under Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller. Joining her is GM and beverage director Marissa Payne (Rose.Rabbit.Lie, Megu, Luce) and kitchen consultant Shannon Waters (Pilot Light Kitchen Consulting, previously Aatxe).

The Riddler will serve bar bites—including caviar, of course, a fun self-serve popcorn service, and products made by women, like INNA Jam—to go with the list of more than 100 Champagnes, with a strong bent toward grower-producers like Gaston Chiquet, Pierre Gimonnet, Egly-Ouriet, Pierre Péters, Marc Hébrart, Gonet-Médeville, and more. Special attention will be paid to female-made wines on the list. There will also be vintage wines from traditional houses like Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger, Salon, Ruinart, Dom Pérignon, and Krug, and hard-to-find Special Club Champagnes. Whether you’re in for a glass, split, half bottle, magnum, or feel like busting out a jeroboam, you can take your pick. Some still wines will also be available. And then there’s one beer: Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers. Ha.

The space was previously Momi Toby’s Revolution Cafe & Art Bar, and it has been given quite the chic makeover, with handmade tables from France, leather banquettes, bar seating, and black, white, and gold as the palette. Look for many fun vintage touches, from the ice buckets to the dishes. There are seats outside as well.

The lady-powered design team includes Hannah Collins of Hannah Collins Designs, who drew up plans for the space; muralist Megan Stevens, who will hand paint a Champagne bottle on the wall facing Linden Alley; and custom floral arrangements from Eleanor Gerber-Siff of Wallflower Designs. Even the graphic design is by a woman, Danielle Moore.

The name is in homage to the practice of riddling, when a riddler rotates bottles of sparkling wine every day eventually into a vertical position to consolidate sediment into the neck of the bottle, a practice invented by the grande dame herself, Madame Clicquot, who didn’t like her sparkling wine to be so cloudy.

The Riddler will be open Tue-Thu and Sun 4pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-12am. Brunch and additional days of service will be added in the new year. 528 Laguna St. at Linden.

November 8, 2016

Pickle and cheese plate, potato leek soup, vegetable sandwich, and toasts. Photo courtesy of Waystone.


Wine and beer at Waystone. Photo courtesy of Waystone.

Newly open at the Market, Taylor, and Golden Gate intersection—just next door to Popsons, Equator Coffee, and the Warfield—is ~WAYSTONE~, a new wine bar and lunch spot from Tom Patella and his wife, Alison. (He is Alvin Garcia’s partner at Causwells, and Garcia tipped him off when he noticed the space next to Popsons was available.) Patella admits he has a crazy wine list, with 40 by the glass, but the list is designed to be approachable and navigable, so enjoy. There are also 25 beers, and soon there will be 4 total on draft.

If you work in the area, you’ll want to come by for their sandwiches, soups, and salads, which range from a braised beef number to French jambon with Jarlsberg, arugula, Dijon, and butter on a soft roll, plus an abundant vegetarian sandwich. There’s a ploughman’s lunch, with cheeses, pickles, and bread, plus charcuterie from Pete’s Meats. Here’s the menu. Some heartier plates will be added for the evening, but for now, with this sunny weather, they’re talking about ceviches. The chef-partner is Billy Riordon, who has worked at La Mar and as a sous for David Wilcox when he was doing his pop-ups in the Bay Area. He was also at 21st Amendment and is behind the beer list at Waystone.

There’s a huge outdoor space with 22 seats, and there are 16 bar seats inside. Open daily 11:30am-10pm, and later hours will be coming soon for people to grab a bite and glass of something after shows at the Warfield. 992 Market St. at Taylor


Decanters and wine bottles at Farallon. Photo courtesy of Farallon.

Wine lovers, you have two events that should get your attention, starting with ~ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT~’s annual Beaujolais Bash on Thursday November 17th. Instead of pouring Beaujolais Nouveau, which is traditionally celebrated on the third Thursday of every November, this event is about showcasing Beaujolais’s potential. Look for notable producers to be poured, like Foillard, Lapierre, Dutraive, Bertrand, Balagny, Chamonard, Descombes, and Damien Coquelet. There will be 54 wines in all! The event is $35; they can do presale if customers want it, but advance purchase isn’t necessary. 5:30pm-8pm.

Oh, and pssst, mark your calendar for my favorite event at Arlequin each year, their Champagne Celebration, which will be on Thursday December 15th, 5pm-8pm, $75! See you there!

Meanwhile, ~FARALLON~ is busy gearing up for their 18th annual PinotFest. This year, there will be 58 of the West Coast’s top pinot noir producers featured. Come by Farallon for dinner and taste flights with a special tasting menu for the two weeks leading up to the PinotFest grand tasting on Saturday November 19th (3pm to 6pm). Winemakers from Au Bon Climat, Byron, Calera, Domaine Drouhin, Kosta Browne, Littorai, Merry Edwards, Siduri, Saintsbury, Williams Selyem, and many more will be there, plus plenty of pinot-friendly hors d’oeuvres from chef de cuisine Jason Ryczek. Tickets are $125; available online.

November 1, 2016

The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar. Photo via Facebook.


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

If you’re a fan of umbrella drinks, rainstorms, and Polynesian music, then you’ll want to sidle up to the new cocktail menu at the ~TONGA ROOM~, the first update in three years. You’ll now find two sections: Classic Tiki (including the 1934 Zombie, the exact recipe that Don the Beachcomber used when he first created the cocktail in 1934!) and Modern Tiki. Have fun, pace yourself, and no jumping in the pool. 950 Mason St. at California, 415-772-5278.

Oh man, SF’s tiniest little bar, the ~BLACK HORSE LONDON PUB~ is in a financial shituation (it’s a little vague about what’s going on). Read more on Hoodline. Here’s the GoFundMe page—they are hoping to raise $120K by February 2017. 1514 Union St. at Van Ness.

In the good news department, not only was the ~LONE STAR SALOON~ the first gay bar to be granted Legacy Business status by the city, now it’s being safely sold to two longtime Lone Star bartenders with a long-term lease (Charlie Evans and Bruce Jennison), which means its future is a bit more solid and going into the right hands. (Via SFist.) 1354 Harrison St. at Dore.

Mezcal fanatics, prep thy livers! Mezcal Week returns to SF to run November 6-13th, with participating bars and restaurants. The event Mezcal: Mexico in a Bottle is Sunday November 13th. Check out both links for more!

Wine lovers, I didn’t forget about you. This Saturday November 5th, the ~SAN FRANCISCO WINE SCHOOL~ is hosting a fifth anniversary party. There will be a blind tasting, grand tasting, and special guests! Don’t drive to this one. Hic. Tickets: $125-$185. 3pm-7:30pm. 415 Grand Ave., Top Floor, South San Francisco, 650-763-1324.

October 25, 2016

Beautiful bubbles at Quince. Photo: Paul Dryer.

Michael and Lindsay Tusk have brought sommelier Jeff Kellogg over from Union Square Hospitality Group’s Maialino in New York City, and he will now be the director of wine and beverages for ~QUINCE~ and ~COTOGNA~. Kellogg was recently voted one of the Sommeliers of the Year by Food & Wine, and he also previously worked at RN74 and Redd in Yountville. Look for upcoming wine dinners each month as well.  

October 18, 2016

The patio at Tiburon Wines, with a view of the wine wall inside. Photo from Facebook.


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

Some quick wine tasting notes for you. First up, ~TIBURON WINE~ is continuing their chef pop-up dinner series on 
Monday November 7th, with chef Ron Siegel (currently The Western Room at Rancho Nicasio, formerly Dining Room at SF Ritz-Carlton and Michael Mina). There will be five savory courses plus dessert, Champagne and wine pairings, and in case you love something you drink (highly possible), there will be a discount on the featured dinner wines. 7pm. $150 per person, including tax and gratuity. Details on how to reserve and more here. Tiburon Wine, 84 Main St., Historical Ark Row, Downtown Tiburon, 415-497-7693.

Califermentation 2016 is back November 12th-13th, and in case you aren’t familiar with it, it’s the first natural wine fair focused exclusively on California wines. There will be morning seminars, tastings (with 48 wineries participating), and more. Most of Saturday’s producers are from Southern California, the Central Coast, and the Sierra Foothills, while those pouring on Sunday have wines from Mendocino, Sonoma, and Napa counties. 12pm-4pm daily. Tickets are $45 per day or $80 for both days. Ten percent of the net proceeds benefit the San Francisco Food Bank. Terroir Natural Wine Merchant, 1116 Folsom St. at 7th St.

Oh, and fans of Donato Scotti’s Donato Enoteca (Redwood City) and Desco (Oakland) should get ready for the opening of ~CRU WINE BAR, MERCHANT & CAFÉ~ in Redwood City in early November, with partner Eric Lecours. Look for artisan, small-production wines (by the glass, bottle) as well as high-profile selections. A European-style café menu will include charcuterie, Roman-style pizza by the slice, and snacks (including salumi off the 1971 restored and hand-cranked Berkel slicer), as well as beers on draft and specialty coffee from Giamaica Caffè in Verona and specifically imported for Cru (so good, have you had it?). It will open for café service at 8am, lunch at 11am, and there will also be a daily aperitivo/happy hour from 3pm-6pm, sure to be popular on the enclosed patio. 900 Middlefield Road, in the Box building at Jefferson Avenue, Redwood City, 650-362-3535.

October 11, 2016

The exterior of the Lion Pub. Photo via Google Maps.

I was sorry to read in the New Fillmore that the owner of the ~LION PUB~, Kelly Ellis, has died after a long illness. And so, after 48 years of business, the formerly gay fern bar has closed (bless that spot, they served me and my friends with our jenky fake IDs when we were underage—so many whiskey sours!). Even though it was no longer a haven for sweater queens gathered around the fireplace over the years and drew much more of a young and straight crowd, it’s an important part of the city’s gay history. If anyone has any intel about the fate of the bar, I’d love to know, it was such a unique little hideaway. 2062 Divisadero St. at Sacramento.

Some good news: it sounds like the new owners of ~MR. BING’S~, the folks behind Ireland’s 32 in the Richmond, won’t be changing much of the dive bar’s beloved dingy and quirky appearance (although they will be closing for some renovations in mid-October, like replacing the floor and making it ADA compliant). The cheap drinks and character will continue! [Via Hoodline.]

Hoodline reports a new rum bar is coming to the former Castle Club in the Tenderloin, ~RUM & SUGAR~, from owners Natasha Avtonomova and Olga Zhuravskaya. They are currently revamping the space and aiming for a mid-November opening. 823 Geary St. at Hyde.