The Square Bar & Kitchen

9 11 2014

I would like to hereby welcome one of North Beach’s most recent additions to the restaurant scene: The Square Bar & Kitchen. Just across the street from Washington Square Park (see what they did there?), and taking the place of the former Bottle Cap (and even more former Washington Square Bar & Grill), The Square opened in March of this year serving upscale, creative takes on classic American dishes.

Delicious homemade bread starter at The Square

Delicious homemade bread starter at The Square

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Artistic butter.

The Square is the latest creation of Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara, owners of Sons & Daughters on Bush ($98 tasting menu, no a la carte options) and Sweet Woodruff on Sutter (20-seat casual counter service and take-out only). The food at The Square appears to fit squarely in the middle of their other two restaurants, offering upscale a la carte dining with a full bar and lounge.

cocktails

tables

cocktails

Two awesome things about The Square:

  1. The Farm: The owners run an 83-acre farm in the Santa Cruz mountains — Dark Hill Farm — from which they source as much of their food as possible for all three of their restaurants. This farm is not open to the public, nor does it sell to any other restaurants or stores. Talk about local — I’m certainly impressed by their dedication.
  2. Open Late: If you’re not feeling so philosophical about where your food comes from, what it all means, and double rainbows, you might just be looking for a place to eat in North Beach around, say, 11pm. You’ll notice that your choices start to slim down rapidly as the moon shines on, but The Square offers food until midnight and bevs until 1am every night.
The Square dinner menu June 2014

The Square dinner menu June 2014

The Square dinner menu August 2014

The Square dinner menu August 2014

I’ve now been twice for dinner and both times the service was impeccable, the drinks were great, and the food was worth writing blogs about. It’s not cheap — the bill for two people was around $130 both times — but it’s definitely worth it. You could easily cut back on drinks and dessert to get the price down (we got an appetizer or two, two meals, dessert, and two drinks each… we weren’t exactly feeling thrifty).

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Fried green beans with dill aioli ($6), sooo amazing

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The menu appears to change often, with some classics staying on all the time. Also, the facility is relatively large for SF — a 90-seat dining room goes a long way on a busy night. AND, they now serve brunch on weekends (score!) and have a good happy hour from 3-6pm every day. So. There’s obviously something here for pretty much anyone, anytime, even all you squares out there.

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complimentary lavendar cookies and dessert wine!

complimentary lavendar cookies and dessert wine!

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The Square on Urbanspoon





Plow: Brunch

31 07 2014

Sometimes I feel like there should be a sign as you enter San Francisco that reads: “SAN FRANCISCO: WE LIKE BRUNCH”. That would pretty much cover it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: brunch is like a sport in SF. Good places are swarmed with people every weekend, especially Sunday. There’s probably a dozen places I could name off hand that will have over a hour wait if you saunter in for brunch around 11am on a Sunday sans reservation. Plow is one of these places.

breakfast

As Plow does not take reservations, we had to engage one of the many common SF brunch tactics. But this time, we had a trick up our sleeve: daylight savings time. On daylight savings day (the one in the Spring), you can get there at 10am, and it really is kinda like arriving at 9am. What does this do? Well, it doesn’t get you any more sleep than arriving at 9am, but, it does seem to get you the same wait time as if you arrived an hour earlier. Everyone else is sleeping! And you’re eating awesome brunch. Good work!

Arriving so early meant we had about a ten minute wait, and then we were seated in their long, narrow, daylight-filled dining area. The menu is sort of old-fashioned meets modern — the only coffee is the kind that is held in a bulbous glass coffee pot and poured periodically into your thick-walled ceramic coffee cup, but the food menu puts a little twist on a variety of favorites, and offers a few yummy unique items.

restaurant

Despite my inclination to order absolutely everything on the menu (ex: raspberry glazed donut $4.25, chocolate banana bread $4.25, avocado toast $8.25, cold-smoked salmon toast $10, dungeness crab scramble $17), I went with my old favorite, eggs benedict with cold smoked salmon ($17). And, at the recommendation of a friend, my two lady friends and I shared two lemon ricotta pancakes ($5 each, or $13 for a meal of three), which were just as amazing as they were reported to be.

My friends ordered two very similar egg dishes (I can’t exactly remember which was which…):

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And my benedict was pretty much as good as it looks. The hollandaise was homemade, and was more vinegar-y than I’m used to, but was dang good:

eggs benedict

Oy, and that little lemon ricotta pancake? So. Good.

pancake

And by the time we left, this was the line outside. Thank you daylight savings.

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Plow on Urbanspoon





Park Chow: Brunch

6 06 2014

If I were filling out a review of Park Chow on Opentable, I would check the box for “neighborhood gem”. And then I’d feel like that was super cheesy and uncheck it. Then I’d remember that it’s hecka accurate and check it again.

scramble

veggie burger

Park Chow is really just kind of your basic diner — old fashioned counter seating, a mounted board on the wall with menu items listed in individual little black clip-in lettering, and a menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and other American classics. But the difference is that the food is good. Like, better-than-your-basic-diner good.

And it’s just fun in there. It’s casual, unpretentious, and it’s inevitably crowded with hungry, happy patrons. It feels the way a diner should: comfortable and homey without being low-class or dingy. And last time I was there for brunch, I discovered something I never knew: they have a huge upstairs that’s partially enclosed by shade awnings! It was a beautiful sunny Saturday (an rarity in the Inner Sunset) and we were able to enjoy the outside without baking in direct sun. It was great.

scramble

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I wish I had taken more pictures, but, as usual, I was focused on the food. I went for the veggie burger* while my man-friend enjoyed a nice brunch scramble. The portions are pretty dang big, and we were ready for a happy nap afterward. Somehow I have to finagle a Thursday visit to experience the smoked salmon hash special… I can dream, can’t I?

*I ordered the veggie burger both to satisfy my craving for said food, and to further research the best veggie burger in the City. This one was good: nice texture, good taste, and the tzaziki sauce was a real win.

Park Chow on Urbanspoon





Mother’s Day Brunch at The Cliff House

21 05 2014

Mom likes a nice view and an elegant atmosphere. Cut to: The Cliff House Restaurant perched nicely atop a (wait for it) cliff on the very western reaches of San Francisco, overlooking the grand old Pacific. The beautifully renovated 1909 facility has been around since 1863, at least in name — two former incarnations succumbed to fire over the years (once even after surviving the 1906 earthquake — doh!).

Mom

Happy Mom’s Day Mom!!!

The Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet is hosted weekly in the Terrace Room of the Cliff House, overlooking views of Ocean Beach and the Pacific herself. They jack the price up for Mom’s Day, but that’s to be expected.

I have to say I was a bit scared that the food wouldn’t be great, and that the selling points were the famous digs and great views rather than the platters in the center of the room. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. The list of food on offer goes on and on, but I’ll just show you a few pics to ponder. Also, they had a harp player to round out the elegant vibe. Harps rock. And this lady even played us some Stairway. Stairway on harp!! What more could you ask for?

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as we approach…

fruit

not an unimpressive fruit platter

salmon

smoked salmon (drool)

asparagus

citrus asparagus

breakfast

foods in warmy trays

 

mom

hi mom!

paella

paella

benedict

it’s not brunch without a benedict.

shrimp

shrump!

dessert

desserts!

plate

my first plate (not my last)

harp

And don’t forget the harpist!





Boogaloos

16 03 2014

Sometimes brunch in SF seems like some sort of Black Friday marathon event. By the size of the lines at some places, you’d think they were giving away gold-encrusted Eggs Benedict for free. The key to these situations? Have a strategy.

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As far as I’ve seen, there are two effective strategies: 1) go hellza early, or 2) come prepared to wait hellza long. Strategy number two can consist of going elsewhere nearby for a coffee or bloody Mary, which generally helps ease the pain. Note: if you have a third strategy, do share.

Boogaloos is a restaurant in the Mission where you will need to enact one of these two strategies. Our approach last month began as the former, but ended as the latter (we dawdled). No bigs.

Their juke-box themed menu is described as “Pan-Caribbean/American Diner” on their website, and has a crazy variety of options to make your decision rather difficult. Eggs. Chorizo. Omelettes. Pancakes. Biscuits and gravy. Quesadillas, fajitas, salads, sandwiches, and sides of pretty much anything on the menu. It’s nuts. It’s hard to even pick a category, but even when you’ve decided “eggs”, you’re still choosing from over a dozen delicious-sounding dishes. It’s a bit overwhelming.

Usually I don’t have quite as many choices as a meat eater, which sometimes makes life easier, but they offer almost everything on the menu with a veggie option. It’s amazing. I had to start simple and try the Boogaloo Classic: “two eggs, homefries, and a bog ol’ biscuit smothered in even more famous veggie herb-cream gravy, green onion” ($9.25). Veggie gravy?!! It was so good. Behold:

boogaloo classic

boogaloo classic

One of my favorite ladies had Soyrizo-n-Eggs: “two eggs scram with ‘Soy-rizo’, served with black beans, salsa, sour cream, green onion, corn tortillas” ($9.25). Soy-rizo is a soy-based version of chorizo, and it was pretty dang good in those eggs.

soyrizo-n-eggs

soyrizo-n-eggs

My other favorite lady had The Basic: two eggs, famous homefries (or fresh fruit) with choice of bread ($7.75). And, she chose the option to “Temple those spuds!” which consists of slathering them in jack cheese, salsa, sour cream, and green onion (+$2.50). It was like nachos camping out on your breakfast.

the basic

the basic with “templed” spuds

Everything was really good and the veggie gravy was my total favorite (I’m so glad I ordered it). Such a rare treat! Also, this happened while we were there… I hope you can see the physical contact between this child’s tongue and the glass door. Ga-ross.

child

child

Regardless, I’d highly recommend going. Just wash your hands after you open the door. ;)

Boogaloos on Urbanspoon





Presidio Social Club

1 02 2014

There aren’t too many restaurants way out in the Presidio, but the Presidio Social Club is one of them. Housed in a remodeled 1903 barracks building on the east side of the Presidio, this fairly large restaurant has an old-timey, classic, yet comfortable feel to it. The sweeping verandas and old fashioned counter seating juxtapose the open space, modern furniture, and abundant natural light.

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We went for brunch, and the menu was a totally mixed bag. Chiliquiles and huevos rotos sat alongside a croque madame, Vietnamese veggie sandwich, kale salad, and crab louie. I’m not sure what the theme is, but I like it. I ordered the Vietnamese veggie sandwich and added crab (which is in season), and my man friend ordered the ham and eggs benedict, but subbed crab for ham. It was a very crabby meal.

eggs benedict with crab

eggs benedict with crab

The benedict was good, but the veggie sandwich was amazing. Every bite was just incredible. It had a plentiful amount of crab, standard julienned carrots, cilantro, pickled onions, avocado, and some kind of aioli or other sauce, all on a hearty roll. It came with a little side salad and was just so, so good.

Vietnamese veggie sando with crab

Vietnamese veggie sando with crab

The service was pleasant, and the prices were reasonable (sandwich $10, plus something like $8 for the crab; $16 for the benedict; and $10 each for mimosa and bloody mary). They even had a cute outdoor patio in the back, but I was afraid of being too cold on a sunny SF morning, so we kept to the indoors. Certainly a great find; I look forward to trying more of the menu.

Presidio Social Club on Urbanspoon





Brenda’s

5 05 2013

Hello world! I am back. After a brief hiatus to take some dumb engineering test, and then some subsequent rest to do things like see the sunshine, remind friends that I exist, and generally sit doing nothing at all, I am ready to bloggulate again. Let’s kick this biatch off with Brenda’s.

Beignets

Brenda’s Beignets

Brenda’s French Soul Food is in the TL. That’s SF-speak for the Tenderloin. Which is the filth-ridden, junkie-laden, pristinely located neighborhood right in the middle of the city between all the other neighborhoods you like (ex: downtown, Hayes Valley, Nob Hill, etc.). The Tenderloin is like San Francisco’s booby trap for visitors who stumble into the area accidentally, and just a puss-filled blemish on the landscape that natives avoid most of the time.

Sunlit Brenda's

Sunlit Brenda’s

Sometimes something good takes up residence in the TL. Brenda’s is one of these diamonds in the rough, if you will. Last time I took a cab here, my driver was very confused.

Driver: “You want to go where?”

Me: “Polk between Turk and Eddy.”

Driver: “Are you sure?”

Me: “Yes, it’s ok, I’m meeting people there.”

Drivers are overly concerned when I request seemingly perilous destinations, for some reason.

Anyway, Brenda’s is awesome. It’s a decent-sized place and it will have a good SF wait for a table during weekend brunch. They do breakfast, lunch, dinner, and aforementioned weekend brunch. I’ve been for brunch and dinner, and both were very good.

Florentine $10

Florentine $10

Fried Catfish $11

Fried Catfish $11

For brunch, Alicia and I both ordered a Benedict of sorts. They have four choices of Benedicts, all $10 or $11. Comes with nice potatoes or grits.

The “dinner” I had there was just a mash of appetizers/sides shared between me and my two lady friends. The Brie en Croute salad was amazing. Fried shallots, sweet yummy dressing and a ridiculously good flaky bread-covered piece of warm brie. So good.

Brie en Croute Salad $8.50

Brie en Croute Salad $8.50

Other sides we shared were mac ‘n cheese, hush-puppies, and collard greens, and then a dessert of the (nearly mandatory)  Beignets and their special of peanut butter mud pie. The mac and puppies were really good, but the collard greens had an unidentified meat product in them which chased off the two veggies at the table. Plus, didn’t really love the taste, oddly. Usually I love any greens.

Mac & Cheese $5

Mac & Cheese $5

Hushpuppies $4.75

Hush-puppies $4.75

The Beignets are somewhat of a specialty; you get three per order and they’re massive! Choice of plain (no filling), chocolate, or apple. The sampler comes with one of each. Note also that the price of all these goods is relatively cheap, which makes any SF meal exciting. Aside from the location (which actually isn’t too far south of Nob Hill), it’s a great place.

Beignet Floght $6

Beignet Flight $6

Peanut Butter Mud Pie

Peanut Butter Mud Pie

Brenda's French Soul Food on Urbanspoon








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