Relaxing Booze and Brunch at 15 Romolo

Brunch is kind of a “thing” in San Francisco. Like hipsters and burritos and bicycles, people here just love to love brunch. Long lines and long waits in tiny spaces are common—and admittedly, the food is often delicious enough to go through the pain.

But sometimes you don’t want all that trouble. You actually want to wake up easily, take a slow city stroll, and then sit down to feed your weary tummy, no doubt worn out with the rest of your body from the work week.

15 Romolo was somewhat of a dream in this regard.

The bar is best known as a saloon-style cocktail watering hole that prides itself on cocktails made from fresh ingredients in an unpretentious environment (which you might find a bit of a surprise, based on the many seedy strip clubs that light up the street outside).

But in the weekend morning light, which slides into the warm afternoon, 15 Romolo transforms into a low-key, relaxing brunch spot with fantastic food and expert drinks.

Most bars would be courageous to expose their sticky insides in the light of day. But even in the clarity of morning, 15 Romolo holds up beautifully. Sunshine falls generously through the bar’s wall of open windows to reveal clean tables and clean chairs in a slow and easy environment.

When you first walk in, you're greeted by this majestic punch bowl. Fancy, fancy!

The saloon ambiance is so relaxing.

Brunch at 15 Romolo

I loved the table asthetic.

I ordered a glass of punch. One of the gentlemen working there informed us that the punch was especially good that morning. It's a strong potion that included Highland Park Whiskey 12, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, vanilla, cardammon, pin rum, lemon, grapefruit, and yellow chartreuse.

They topped mine with a gorgeous slice of blood red orange.

Josh got a Pimm's Cup—which is a very light and refreshing version of the drink. In its more classic form, the drink can be a bit heavier and bitter. The lighter twist made it perfect for brunch. 

Everyone who comes gets a free waffle shot to start their meal. The waffle stick is fresh and hot, and the liqueur tastes like maple syrup. 

Josh got the tofu scramble, which is completely vegan. And completely delicious. The scramble was packed with buttery spices.

I ordered Romolo's Home Skillet. Braised beef. Sweet potato hash. Cabbage/raddichio slaw. Blood orange vin. Chipotle aioli. Perfectly poached egg. Oh, oh, oh! So delicious. 

The poached egg even had this lovely sprinkling of sea salt.

We enjoyed the food so much, that we were tempted into ordering these pillow-light biscuits with honey/shallot butter.

15 Romolo
15 Romolo Place  San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-1359

Saturday Cupcake

It's funny how the banal can lead to the delightful.

We took Josh's Macbook over to the Apple Store and learned there was a 45-minute wait to get help. So we decided to take a snack break.

We bought this delicious tiramisu cupcake at a little stand called Cako. Super moist and not too sweet. With a little strong coffee—perfect.

Hope you stumble across something as lovely this Saturday.

More Details on Charles Phan's and Erik Adkin's New Project

Learning about Charles Phan's and Erik Adkin's new Embarcadero restaurant had the curious effect of making Josh and me very excited and very thirsty. And so we found ourselves, only moments later, dashing down to The Slanted Door, one of Mr. Phan's and Mr. Adkin's tried, true, and institutionalized restaurants in the Ferry Building. After all, we wanted to end the three-day weekend on a celebratory note.

And as it happened, Mr. Adkins was there that night behind the bar! He shared with us a little more about the new spot, which is set to open just a little ways down from The Slanted Door at Pier 3.

The new restaurant will take on a New Orleans flare in fare and in cocktails. The drinks, specifically, will draw inspiration from the the book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em, an artifact from the '30s and one of the few pieces documenting drinks from that place. For Erik, that means being able to do a lot of what he enjoys—stirred drinks and the like.

It's a very neat direction to go. New Orleans drinks are celebrated for some very significant contributions to the cocktail menu—the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz, just to name a few. But I don't know of very many bars that have chosen to thematically embrace New Orleans. And with the growing number of New York-style, Charles Baker, tiki, and tequila spots, it seems that Phan and Adkins might carve out a very unique spot.

The new place won't be solely about the cocktails and actually the cocktail menu won't be "seasonal," as I had previously thought. Instead, we are encouraged by with what we know about Mr. Phan's other spots—both great food and great drink. There's not much not to complain about that.

And so we wait with more anticipation! 2012 will, indeed, be a very good year.

Crossposted on The Joy of Drinking.

New Cocktail Bar for Charles Phan and Erik Adkins (Sound the trumpets!)

Holy moly! San Francisco cocktail world, rejoice! We're about to witness a supernova.

Earlier I had mentioned that the super fantastic Erik Adkins was stepping back from managing the cocktail menu at Heaven's Dog to usher in the super talented Trevor, formerly of Rickhouse. And now I'm wondering whether it has anything to do with this happy piece of news: Charles Phan (famous proprietor of Slanted Door, Wu Hing General Store, Out the Door, and Heaven's Dog) is opening a new spot on Pier 3 on The Embarcadero—and the restaurant and its food are all centered around Erik's drinks, as Eater SF reports!

Details are few, but the restaurant is set to feature Creole food to compliment a "creative seasonal cocktail program" created by Erik, describes Eater SF. 

I could not be more excited.

One of the distinguishing marks of San Francisco cocktail culture is that much of it is invested in food establishments. Restaurants, it seems, have an easier time acquiring liquor licenses or taking over places that already have them, and so you have a frequent interplay between food and cocktails. But I am incredibly excited to see what happens when cocktails take centerstage, and the food follows—and led by one of the most awesome bartenders.

It's going to be a great year for cocktails.

Crossposted on The Joy of Drinking.

Cold Nights, Hot Tofu Soup

Banchan at Tofu House

For a foggy, Friday San Francisco evening, hot soon dubu chigae was the perfect method of warding off a cold. 

After playing frisbee in the parks of Oakland (several questionable aspects about this activity), Josh suffered from the congestion of both allergies and a cold. Gah. So we dashed our original hipster plans of eating cheese in the Mission and instead headed over to our favorite Korean hole in the wall: My Tofu House.

Soon dubu chigae is a Korean tofu soup, hot both for its scaldingly hot temperatures and spiciness, which makes the broth ember-red from pepper paste. The steam, the pepper, the rich broth—all of it—is the perfect salve for a cold. 

We like My Tofu House because the interior makes you feel like you’re home. Warm lights, soft seats, and kind staff make it easy to relax.

Tofu House

Plus, the banchan, or side dishes, are delicious and plentiful. Each person even get their own smelt, and when they’re not busy, you get refills on the banchan.

Banchan at Tofu House

I always get the combination soup because I like the savory mix of beef plus clam.

Combination Soon Dubu - Tofu House

And Josh likes to get the noodle one—the ramen soaks up all the flavor. It’s one of a few other vegetarian options on the menu, including vegetable and mushroom. (They always use water and not meat broth.)

A satisfying start to the weekend.

My Tofu House

4627 Geary Blvd
(between 10th Ave & 11th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118
Neighborhood: Inner Richmond

(415) 750-1818

Heaven's Dog: Valentine's Day Cocktail Adventures

It was a kind of spur-of-the-moment decision on Valentine's. Though we had planned a classy, classy home Valentine’s dinner, Josh and I decided to capitalize on a celebratory mood and dash out for a quick happy hour. After all, one of our favorite bars, Heaven’s Dog, was not so very far away—and Valentine’s Day comes only but once a year! With hurried justification, we threw on our jackets and headed right over.

Josh and I have been going to the SOMA spot ever since it opened in 2009. Opened by Charles Phan of Slanted Door fame, the restaurant features some kind of Chinese American fare—fancy xiaolongbao, onion pancakes, spicy dumplings, and other “high-end” stir-frys. But what keeps us coming back are the cocktails. Originally managed by the incredible Erik Adkins—who is not only super talented but also the nicest guy in the world—the cocktails always took on his warmth and attention to detail, refined classics with high-quality ingredients. We recently learned that Trevor, former bar manager of Rickhouse, has since moved over to Heaven’s Dog, which is great since Rickhouse is another city favorite.

We noticed that Trevor had made a new cocktail menu. Looks yum!

New Cocktail Menu at Heaven's Dog

I started with a Nothing But the Brave, a stiff cocktail featuring armagnac, lemon juice, All Spice, and Ginger.

Nothing But the Brave

And Josh had the Oaxacan Firing Squad. The drink really became the star of the night, with its savory, smokey mix of Mezcal, lime, Small Hands grenadine, and angostura. Delicious! (Sorry for the dim photo—the place was so dark at first.)

Oaxacan Firing Squad - Heaven's Dog

We ended our happy our by splitting a Yankee Clipper, a crisp way to end our happy hour with Beefeater gin, carpano antica, Luxardo, orange bitters, and absinthe.

Yankee Clipper

Heaven’s Dog

1148 Mission St.

San Francisco, CA 94103


Cross-posted at The Joy of Drinking.

Valentine's Day for practical romantics

Pink moscato -- hehe!

Like so many other couples around the globe, Josh and I aren't the type to take ourselves out to dinner on Valentine's Day. OK, maybe we're just resisting the cliche. But, eh, noisy and crowded candlelit restaurants with forced, red-colored prix fixe Valentine's menus just don't appeal to us (it's funny how much you can looove prix fixe menus until someone forces it on you and doubles the price). 

And so we decided to do something at home. 

To me, the trick to a Valentine's Day at home is making the meal feel just special enough without doing so much work that you get into a fight after a long day's work. (The last time we decided to make souffles, and my mom just laughed and walked away saying, "Good luck with that.")

So, imagine my joy as I collected these gems during my regular grocery shopping last week:

Heart-shaped ravioli from Costco

Heart-shaped ravioli - FTW #thankyouCostco

Pink sparkling moscato

Yes -- pink moscato from Trader Joe's #shameless

Combined with a butter lettuce salad and fresh guacamole, it made for a delicious meal. 

Totally cheesy? Yes! Much enjoyed? Definitely. 

Happy Valentine's Day to all!