As soon as we entered I was instantly taken with the aesthetic of the dining room, counter, & service station. Everything is rustic wood, a blend of finished and unfinished pieces. From the walls to the table to the decor the earthiness is undeniable. Described on their website as a haven for seafarers you feel a bit like you have entered an upgraded beach shack where ship wreckage's have been refused to build a sanctuary from the waves. As you can see in the picture on the left they have a very sophisticated coffee set up for those that love their brewed to order pots. Fresh house made baked good and caramels are displayed on the counter to tempt you as you order.
Served on a thick slice of their hearty house made bread that has been toasted and lightly buttered. I chose the asparagus & portabello with garlic & oregano pistou and crescenza cheese (pictured left). As described in epicurious' food dictionary crescenza is an Italian uncooked cow's milk cheese that is very creamy and becomes soft and spreadable at room temperature. I found it to have a very mild flavor in this dish and added mostly a "sticking power" to keep the veggies affixed to the bread. This is exactly the kind of dish I cook for myself on a Sunday at home and I enjoyed every bite. The nice dark green rounded out the plate with their slight bitterness and fresh palate cleansing power.
Andrew chose the Maple Smoked Ham with apples, caramelized onions, black pepper, Gruyere, & dill. so many good sweet and savory flavors piled together I even found myself enjoying the dill in the bite I tried (it is taking some time but I am ever so slowly coming around to dill). I love the choice to add the very thinly sliced apples as they complement ham and Gruyere so well.
With lots of time to kill we headed down to the Ferry Building to check out their farmer's market and shops. This is such a fun place filled with true food artisan's. It is so cool that it will deserve it's own post a future date when we gather ingredients from the different shops and cook a fabulous feast (hopefully sometime in May -Stay tuned!)
Hayes Valley was calling our name for the late afternoon. After reading about them in the Huffington post I had been fascinated by a new bar called "Two Sister Bar & Books" . It is exactly as it sounds, a tiny almost hallway of an old timey bar run by two sisters with lots of reading material! We stopped by for their happy hour and were impressed by their local draft choices (Racer 6 IPA & Anchor Steam Liberty Ale, an Anderson Valley selection along with others) I enjoyed their happy hour cocktail of choice a blend of whiskey, cherry bitters, & sweet vermouth. They also offer a selection of small plates from their kitchen located next to the bar. We had some excellent Camembert paired with a strawberry balsamic jam made by their mother, a roasted head of garlic and some sliced baguette. I am sorry now that I didn't take pictures to share with you but perhaps I'll recreate the experience soon and update the post!
Soon enough it was time for us to head to our dinner reservation at Straw. This goes in the book as one of the more unique establishments I have been a patron to. Carnival themed Straw brings out the child in all of us while simultaneously raising our cholesterol. The decor and menu's are whimsical... while almost being slightly creepy (and aren't all carnivals just a little bit like that).
|Yes that is a booth made out of a ride carriage you see in the window|
With menu items titled things like "the contortionist" (pretzel bite appetizer) "the bearded lady" (pulled pork sandwich) & "the ring master" (burger served between two doughnuts) you know you are in for an experience. While we waited for Michele to join us I got started with one of their signature cocktails. Blended table side you are first presented with a glass filled with their house made cotton candy. The server then pours from a separate glass the blend of sabe vodka infused sake & champagne that melts the Cotton candy letting it add it's sweet flavor and color to the drink.
My not so secret secret weakness in the arena of junk food is corn dogs. I can't help it the crunchy sweet batter wrapped around the salty meaty hot dog gets me every time. Mini corn dogs with assorted dipping sauces? even better!
When the waiter came around to take our orders for entrees and offered us the options of french fries, house made potato chips or green salad all of our guilt raised its head and the unanimous vote was green salads! I'm not sure how anyone could digest this stuff without a liiiiiiitttle roughage! I chose the Fried Chicken & Waffle Monte Cristo, and Andrew & Michele went for the pulled pork sandwich with blackberry BBQ sauce and the piece de resistance- The Ringmaster Cheeseburger with bacon served between two glazed doughnuts. And it was all delicious! For being awfully bad for you it all had amazingly good house made taste. You could tell this was some high quality junk food. I enjoyed everything I tasted and I hope to try a few other things the next time I go.... in 6 months after I work off the calories I consumed!
I couldn't end this post with out a picture of their incredible tiny bathroom filled with childhood memorabilia (read: junk) and fun house mirrors!
All in all it was a fabulous birthday doing my favorite things in my favorite city!