Category Archives: Cocktails First

Drunken Vegetarianism

Allow me to clear up a common misconception. Vegetarians are not necessarily wholesome by definition. Sure, we enjoy the healthy side benefits of a meat-free lifestyle, but we go out, get shit-faced, and get a hankerin’ for fried food just like everyone else.

Which is why I’m so in love with Truck. Stuck on the corner of Nowhere and Filthy in the Mission (that particularly lonely stretch of Folsom, just past the FoodsCo), Truck is a welcome oasis. Smallish, gayish, cheapish and friendly as all get out. And then there’s the Fried Tofu.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been out and about, staring longingly at the deep fried chicken fingers of my drinking pals. Not that I want the chicken—I just want the fried. Truck understands that feeling, and serves up a deep fried platter of veggies and tofu, with your choice of dipping sauce. (My choice happened to be the curried ketchup. Yum.) The batter is surprisingly well-seasoned, and not at all greasy. And the tofu slabs sit snuggled in a basket with fried broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and mushrooms. It’s the perfect reason for another round of Citron and Tonics.

Now I’d like to pretend that my evening ended there. But long story short, and a few bars later, I was hungry again. Thankfully, Crepes A-Go-Go is an equidistant stumble between the Eagle and my house. It’s located next to Butter, in a cart on 11th between Harrison and Folsom. As far as I’ve noticed, it’s only open late at night, serving up easy-eatin’ hand food to the rowdy crowds. I’ve enjoyed the sweet life-giving nectar of a Nutella Crepe there at 2:00 a.m., and this weekend, I tried the Mushroom, Spinach and Cheese. To be honest, I can’t tell you whether or not it’s actually any good: I’ve never been there sober. (Sweet Baby Jesus, this post makes me sound like I should change my last name to Lohan.) But I can tell you this—when it’s time to head home, and you’ve got your munch on, Crepes A-Go-Go doesn’t disappoint. There’s plenty of choices for veggies and meat lovers alike.

So let’s raise a toast to the beautiful abandon of drunken eating,  when the rules fly out the window, and pure satisfaction is the only goal. Cheers.

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Filed under Cocktails First, On the Cheap, Reviews

Malacca: What happened?

You have to believe me when I tell you this: I don’t want to write another cranky review. My hand to God, I’ve been feeling bad about how much negativity I’ve been pouring on to these pages as of late. I’m actually a pretty positive person on the whole. Sarcastic, sure. But positive.

Well, kids, you’re going to have to wait another week for smiles and puppydogs and lollipops. Cuz it’s about to get ugly again.

I’ve been out of town for the last week, this time in Orange County. I wanted to come home and have some QT with my partner, maybe grab a nice dinner and bar hop around the Castro for a bit. I specifically set out to make reservations somewhere where I felt reasonably certain of a decent meal—because like I said, it’s time for some good vibrations around here. (The Beach Boys type, not the store.) Then I thought of Malacca.*

My partner and I first wandered into Malacca a little over a year ago, when they were at their 18th Street location. We didn’t know a thing about the place, and we were pleasantly surprised. The interior was warm and sophisticated, they had a great wine list, including several nice flights, the menu was focused and unique, and the food turned out to be refreshingly good. I remember commenting, “Wow, finally a decent place in the Castro.” Continue reading

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Filed under Cocktails First, Mid-range Meals, Reviews

District, I Stand Corrected

It sure is a good time to be an oenophile in San Francisco. Wine bars are popping up all over town like daffodils in spring. Case in point: District, the new wine bar on Townsend at 3rd.

As you may recall, my first experience with District was less than ideal. It was a Friday night during the post-work crush and the squealing hordes were out in force. I couldn’t even get IN the bar, let alone drink anything—it was that busy.

But I tried again this Sunday during the light of day. I had friends visiting from out of town; two smart, fabulous women who know their way around a wine menu. It seemed like the right time to give the place another shot and it turned out to be a smart decision. District is a great spot for whiling away an afternoon.

The interior was every bit as lofty and spacious as I’d read: It felt downright cavernous when empty. Their by-the-glass selection is dizzying, and their flights (all nine of them) are clever. District is thinking beyond the usual “Reds of Sonoma” or “Tour of Germany” concepts. You can taste Oak vs. Stainless, in a no-holds-barred aging-style cage match. Or Primitivos to Zins. (Like so many of us, the grape moved to Cali and changed its identity.) I opted for Big Funky Reds. (Cue the P-funk, please.) There wasn’t a loser in the line-up, but funky they were. Like, serious junk in the trunk funk. The Oliver Pithon Rhone Blend was hell on the nose—sulfur pumped out of a baby’s ass, I swear—but heaven on the tongue. Big and gracious and chocolatey. And my bass-booming flight was the perfect companion to the artisinal cheese plate.

Speaking of cheese, the joint ain’t vegan-friendly: The non-meat options are all pretty heavy on the fromage. There’s Arancini di riso with fontina and sage—a kind of rice and cheese croquette—plus a goat cheese and pesto pizzetta, and a mixed green salad with blue cheese crumbles. (There are also nuts and olives on the menu, but nuts and olives don’t make a meal. At least not a very satisfying one.)

The takeaway is this: big thumbs up on the wine selection. I can’t wait to go back and explore more. Just be careful when you go. Maybe in few months, when the honeymoon is over, Friday nights will be more manageable. Until then, try it in the afternoon. (Feel free to fill in your own “afternoon delight” joke here. I’d write one for ya, but that’s just too easy.)

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Beggars Can’t Be Choosers, But They Can Be Pissed And Write About It (Sutra)

This is not a restaurant review.

It’s really more of a service review. And not a particularly happy one.

Let’s say you, your partner, and four of your best pals are slightly tipsy, walking along the Embarcadero on gorgeous San Francisco night. It’s Friday after a long week, and you’re looking for some dinner. Where do you go?

Americano? (Nah, the crowd is too icky and you’d never get a table for six.)
Slanted Door? (Um, did you make a reservation five months ago? I didn’t think so.)
Ozumo? (Only if the client is paying.)

“Hey! I’ve got an idea! How ’bout Sutra? It looks swanky enough, and there always seems to be space inside. Maybe we could actually score a table.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid, dumb. It must have been the liquor talking, because normally, my Spidey Senses would have warned me: If there’s plenty o’ room on a Friday night, there’s probably a reason.

Continue reading

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Lime. Who knew?

A decent meal can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Or, rather, because you least expect it.

That’s the way it went down Saturday at Lime.

We were looking for a casual, inexpensive place to meet a friend for cocktails, and the presence of snacks was a requirement. Lime was an easy choice, especially given the fact that my friend is from out of town and utterly hopeless with directions. It’s pretty simple to find Market and stay on it.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Lime. Part of me really likes it there. It seems hip and fun– but if you pay too close attention, you realize that it’s hip and fun in an IKEA way. Cheap and not all that well built. But whatever. That doesn’t stop me from drooling all over the IKEA catalogue. Nor does it keep me out of Lime.

The cocktails, as usual, were tasty. Their Kaffir Gimlets are divine– they’re not afraid to let them be bitter. (Fresh lime juice and Hangar One Kaffir Lime vodka with a touch of simple syrup.)

And, I’m happy to report, the food was tasty. Yes, I had low expectations. And yes, I was two gimlets in, but damn if it wasn’t decent. We started with the Baja Fish tacos. Small, but the fish was crispy and light. Then we added veggies (green beans with kalamata olives and red peppers; nice and snappy with a decent amount of spice), grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup (the soup, which was more like a dip, was tangy and thick) glazed sea bass (in little lettuce cups for handy eating) and the zucchini fries (the only real let down of the bunch– there was way too much batter and it left them feeling soggy and limp). We finished off with a plate of five mini red velvet cupcakes. Sultry-teenage-super-yum.

I enter most restaurants with such high expectations, I can’t help but have them dashed. Let this be a lesson to me, I suppose. Aim low, get happy.

(Originally posted Saturday, January 13, 2007)

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