Tiny Brewpub Woods Polk Station Muscles in on Russian Hill

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Pete Kane
The Rodenbach Grand Cru Nitro has notes of black cherry and balsamic vinegar.

Even smaller than Cerveceria de MateVeza's original space -- in an absolutely killer location at Dolores Park's NW corner -- comes another beer-and-empanadas offering from the same team, Woods Polk Station. The Marina/Polk Gulch frontier is a neighborhood lined with purveyors of pure inebriation, so it's great that a civilized (yet unpretentious) place to appreciate quality craft beer has muscled its way in.

See Also: Beer of the Week: Cerveceria de MateVeza's Cocktail-Inspired Brews


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Drink of the Week: Pig 'N Boots at Parallel 37

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Lou Bustamante
Pig 'N Boots cocktail at Parallel 37
Cocktails are capable of taking flavors and ingredients in many different directions, even with something as seemingly simple as a switch in bitters. An infusion or syrup can marry the culinary accents of a restaurant's cuisine to the drink, and in the right hands, can make it act as much as an amuse than a cocktail.

If cocktails have one weakness, it's their higher proof than beer or wine, which can make it a struggle to pair with food. Even as cocktails become a more integral part of fine dining, their role as a successful accompaniment to a tasting menu is typically limited to bookends of the meal.

See also: Drink of the Week: Winter Smash at Pesce
Drink of the Week: Drinking Inside the Twelve-Mile Limit at Revamped Comstock Saloon
Drink of the Week: Engaging in Some Risky Business at Fog City

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The Royal Tug Jerks Our Chain

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Pete Kane
The Admiral and the Panama Negroni at the Royal Tug
Empire-builders Duncan Ley, Benjamin Bleiman and Mark DeVito have a lot of cool neighborhood bars in San Francisco. A lot. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem shines the brightest, but there's also Soda Popinski's, Bullitt, Tonic, Wild Hare, bar-slash-venue Rebel, etc. And this time, they're phoning it in.

See also: Tonga Room Revamp Alters Practically Nothing. "Whew!" Cry Hordes of Kitsch Fans

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Tonga Room Revamp Alters Practically Nothing. "Whew!" Cry Hordes of Kitsch Fans

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New drinks, same old Tonga Room.
Before you read this, ask yourself, "How much do I want the Tonga Room to change?" If the answer is "A lot," you're going to be disappointed. You're also a joyless buzzkill.

The tiki palace that looks like David Lynch's afterlife destination buried in the Fairmont Hotel has been an international treasure of cultural appropriation since the end of World War II. It has theoretically been updated, but apart from new walls and three or four new cocktails that are just as saccharine as all the others, not much stands out. (Of those, the Hurricane is much better than the Pineapple Royale, which does come in a pineapple, and there is also a rum punchbowl on loan from Smuggler's Cove). Like the Catholic Church, it's probably good for this institution to ride out most fads unscathed, so we're not weeping that there aren't reclaimed subway tiles and Mason jars everywhere.

See also: Tonga Room Happy Hour: All-You-Can-Eat Tiki Kitsch
The Tonga Room -- Historical or Hysterical?


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Flour & Co. is an Oasis in the Nob Hill Pastry Desert

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Pete Kane
The PB&J at Flour & Co.
Previously, if you had a sick friend at St. Francis Hospital on Nob Hill, the only local pastry you could bring to cheer them up was a sad doughnut that may or may not have shared the deep fryer with something dubious. Not any more. The simply named Flour & Co., now open on Hyde near California St., will brighten your day whether you're out and about or an in-patient with amoebic dysentery.

See also: Heyday: Chez Panisse Alums Reinvent Power Lunch In the FiDi

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Drink of the Week: P37 Mary at Parallel 37

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Lou Bustamante
The first thing that you'll notice as you take a sip of the P37 Mary ($14, ancho chili infused vodka, lemon, olive juice, house made tomato water, celery-habañero shrub, fresno chili pickling liquid, pickled vegetables, smoked salt rim) is how much finesse the drink has. Parallel 37 bar manager Camber Lay has created a version of the drink that tastes so fresh and vibrant, the purported curative effects seem more like fact than urban legend. It frankly made me wish I were hungover, just to see how well it worked.

See Also:
- The Bloody Mary at Laszlo
- Scrambled Eggs With Crab and Truffle at Parallel 37
- The Citizens Band Bloody Mary


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Drink of the Week: Golden Gate 75th Celebration in Cocktails

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Lou Bustamante
St. Charles Punch at Aurea
With the official 75th Anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge this weekend, the festivities will also come in cocktail form.*

At Aurea inside the Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel on Nob Hill, they're serving the St. Charles Punch ($12, Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac, Fonsecca Terra Bella Organic Ruby Port, lemon juice, fresh berries), a drink that was popular in 1937 when the Golden Gate Bridge opened up. The interplay of the grape based brandy with the ruby port is fantastic, with just enough lemon juice to brighten the drink up.

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Number 23: The 2 A.M. Apple Fritter at Bob's Donuts

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Iann Ivy
No, you're not just drunk. It really is good when it's fresh.
SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition

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At 2 a.m., belly full of Jack Daniels and hair reeking of stale cigarette smoke, you're not so concerned that sustenance is organic, vegan, or pedigreed. No, at two o'clock you need a gut bomb. Something that seems delicious in the moment yet has magical medicinal qualities to help you rise the next afternoon in a slightly less muddled, less excruciating state. At 2 a.m., you need Bob's apple fritter.

To be frank, this thing will sink you. Comprised of globs of dough braided with too much, too sweet glaze and a gummy, fruity concoction, Bob's apple fritter tastes absolutely nothing like a real apple. And it shouldn't. But at 2 a.m., odds are good that your savior has been recently plucked from a vat of bubbling oil, rendering the fritter extravagantly melty and the glaze lustrous. It all goes down easier than that last shot of Cuervo you just gulped.

At a proper morning hour the apple fritter is a death wish to start your day. But at 2 a.m., under Bob's filthy fluorescent lights and paired with a noncompostable cup of Farmer Brothers coffee? It's perfect.

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Trends in Beer: The House Brew Comes to Bar Tartine, Public House, and More

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Gil Riego, Jr
​Remember those Virginia Slims ads with women frolicking beneath the proclamation, "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!"? That's pretty much how beer geeks feel these days. Once the sovereign domain of wine, the city's finest restaurants now carry fine craft beers, and many SF chefs and beverage program directors are working with local breweries to create unique, proprietary brews:

Magnolia/Namu Gaji Toasted Rice Beer
Last year, Magnolia collaborated with Public House to create Billy Sunday's Best Bitter. The traditional cask-served English bitter has become a staple for beer geeks out for a day at the ballpark. With Magnolia's current expansion, we can expect to see similar projects in the coming year. By the end of April, newcomer Namu Gaji should have its own Magnolia brew on tap. Collin Casey, Namu's beverage director, expects the beer to fit well with the restaurant's focus on lower-alcohol, sessionable beverages. While the beer is still in the final development phase, the addition of toasted rice will add a level of complexity while paying homage to Korean culinary tradition.



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CUESA's Sarah Henkin Moves on to New Venture, Square Meals

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Sarah Henkin, CUESA's market chef in charge of coordinating their Market to Table and Lunch and Learn programs, as well as other culinary events, is moving on to a new restaurant-shop. The venture, Square Meals, shares a combined space with Batter Bakery at 2127 Polk.

They had a soft brunch opening last weekend and opened permanently on Monday. Henkin herself starts cooking there next Monday, Dec. 12. The other cooks currently holding down the fort are Alison Clement, who's also the owner, and Jared Bene, formerly of Maverick and Citizen's Band.

As for the food? Henkin says, "think delicious and mostly healthy food for take-away, eat-in, or delivery." There's a weekly rotating menu of about 20 items with daily hot lunch and dinner specials. Salads, grain dishes, main dishes like meatloaf, lasagna, marinated/grilled steak, roasted chicken, and fresh fish.

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