The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
April 27, 2021

The outdoor seating area (Indie Station) at the new Indie Wine & Beer Bar. (There’s a fire pit in the back.) Photo: ©


Kumamoto oysters with sea beans, yuzu mignonette, and fresh horseradish. Photo: ©


Sunchoke soup with day boat scallops at the new Indie Wine & Beer Bar. Photo: ©

Last week, I had a delightful evening with friends checking out ~INDIE WINE & BEER BAR~ at the new location of the San Francisco Wine Center, which moved from their Bryant Street address last year to this spot near Levi’s Plaza. There’s a spacious, warm, and protected outdoor space (they call it Indie Station) with room for 60—they take table reservations, and it would be perfect for a gathering or event. There’s also interior seating at a long banquette, tables, and some lounge seating.

The extensive menu goes far beyond the usual cheese and charcuterie offering. Chef Carina Lampkin was previously at Bar Crudo, and you’ll note her seafood skills with the two raw oyster presentations ($24 for six), there’s a local halibut crudo ($15), and day boat scallops tucked in the stunning sunchoke soup ($13), with fennel and Tokyo turnips.

The beet, bacon, and blue cheese salad ($13) was our group’s favorite—it’s one of the best beet salads I’ve ever had, actually, with golden and Chioggia beets, red wine vinaigrette, and the kicker: whipped horseradish crème fraîche. Don’t miss it. Your table can choose from a couple flatbreads to share, and heartier appetites will find almond-crusted halibut ($25) and New Zealand lamb ribs ($28), with a tasty side of smoked yucca root. You even get three desserts to choose from—the classic French crème brûlée was what won the affection of our dessert spoons.

The wine list is full of treasures available by the glass that you rarely see (2015 Hanzell Vineyards chardonnay, or how about 2009 Marchesi di Barolo?). You can keep things affordable or totally splash out, there are so many options! Get a few pals and taste your way through this exciting list. Owner Brian McGonigle is excited to be able to open and share these wines with his guests. Oh, and wine classes will start up again soon. Open Thu-Sat 3pm-8pm. 175 Green St. at Sansome.

Mark your calendar for WINeFare, the first international wine tasting event focused on the women in the natural wine movement, founded by Pamela Busch of The Vinguard. This year, it’s a three-day virtual event from May 21st-23rd. Over 100 women and women-owned businesses from a dozen countries, 13 states, and the District of Columbia are participating. Bottles Without Borders will have 16 panel discussions ranging from Quevri This: The Women Taking Over Georgia’s Natural Wine Movement to New Voices in California Wine.

WINeFare is also partnering with 40 women-owned natural wine shops throughout the United States and in other countries so that attendees can find wines from the winemakers participating. Tickets are available on a sliding scale basis ($20-$50).

April 6, 2021

The interior of the new Mr. Digby’s in Noe Valley. Photo via Yelp courtesy of Mr. Digby’s.

Noe Valley has a new cocktail bar, ~MR. DIGBY’S~, from husband and wife Mike McCaffery (Mission Rock Resort) and Kristen Gianaras McCaffery (Novy). Cocktails range from a Boulevardier to a Garden Gimlet, plus wine and beer. Perhaps even more extensive is the food menu, with pimento cheese dip, steak tartare, prawn cocktail, a kale Green Goddess, spinach dip hot bread (oh yeahhhh), and a lineup of classic mains that include a pork chop and chicken pot pie. Eater mentions chef Mike Ocampo (Bourbon Steak, Bar Crudo, Absinthe, Piccino) consulted on the food, while design group ROY (Riddler, Elda, and most Adriano Paganini restaurants) is behind the tavern renovation (it was previously Noe’s Cantina), which includes outdoor seating and a nicely outfitted Shared Space with heaters. Open Tue-Sun 5pm to close; brunch is reportedly coming next month. 1199 Church St. at 24th St.

March 23, 2021

Meet your Buddy team: Claire Spouse, Nicolas Torres, Alvaro Rojas, and Nora Furst. Photo: Equal Parts Media.

A while back, I heard some local bar talent was potentially taking over the original Californios location on 22nd Street in the Mission (which has reopened in the former Bar Agricole in SoMa), and now it’s time to release some exciting details about the upcoming ~BUDDY BAR & CAFE~. The partners are Nora Furst (Uma Casa, West Beverage Consulting), Nicolas Torres (True Laurel), Alvaro Rojas (Elda), and Claire Spouse (Hunky Dory). How’s that for a dream team of talent?

They’re doing some light remodeling of the space, but it was pretty fabulous already (I was always ready to just move in). As the team wrote in an email to me: “Buddy aims to be a cosmopolitan destination, while also being a casual, neighborhood haunt. A perfect place for that quiet morning coffee, a late lunch, or lively happy hour with friends, and especially a delicious dinner or nitecap. Most importantly, Buddy is a community hub—a ‘third place’ where our guests can interact, unwind, and find inspiration.”

The team is very focused on fostering a familiar and friendly vibe, creating a comfortable environment highlighting their special mix of polished and inviting service, charming design, unique cuisine, and a dynamic beverage program at accessible prices. There will be a lot of details and fuss behind the scenes—but the guest experience will be about ease and lack of pretension. I will keep you posted as this develops, but for now, you can follow them at @buddythebar for updates. 3115 22nd St. at Capp.