Last week, I was publicly accused of hunting out The City’s weirdest places to eat. This gave me pause.
I never thought of myself as an odd-hunter, on a quest to uncover bizarre arcana for its own sake. I just went to places that were less noticed, where I wouldn’t have to scrum with 30 other food writers.
But whatever my intent, the facts speak for themselves. In 12 short months, I reviewed a Japanese maid cafe, a pornographic brunch spot, a museum cafe, a fish trailer, Nespresso, a Russian spa, a Champagne bar, “bro meals” and Tu Lan. Read More
Many years ago, my great-aunt asked me to go through her liquor cabinet.
In addition to the usual suspects — Chivas, kirsch, schnapps and Bailey’s — I found several bottles of Moët et Chandon Brut Imperial, a nonvintage Champagne, with aged labels. She told me they were left over from her son’s bar mitzvah, which had occurred during the Kennedy administration. At the time of this discovery, President Bill Clinton was in his first term.
Head up as high as the elevator will take you and you’ll find a Chinatown cocktail secret, a nearly forgotten antique. The pagoda-hooded bar and lounge — decorated with green stools and carpeting — hosts stunning views of Russian Hill, North Beach and the rooftops on Grant Avenue. If you’re lucky, you’ll score the seats closest to Coit Tower around sunset. Faded pictures of 1980s celebrities on the walls recall the heyday of the restaurant and bar. Bartenders in red jackets and bow ties pour drinks to the sound of smooth Shanghai jazz. Read More
I’m transfixed by one photo in a rotating slideshow on the website of the Russian spa Archimedes Banya. A young, lovestruck couple is submerged in a hot tub. The peach-skinned man hoists a stein of beer. And his paramour seems to be dunking a whole fish into the beer.
Your actual meal at the spa will not be served in the Jacuzzi (it’s for the best), but you will eat in a surreal, unsettling hideaway, not unlike the interplanetary cantina in “Star Wars.” It’s called, weirdly, Zteamers.
The absurdity of the photo is apt. Read More
Luckily for jarred gefilte fish, there is something even nastier to taste buds during Passover: The mere mention of kosher wine still produces a gag reflex among many Jewish oenophiles who grew up with Manischewitz and Mogen David. You might be wondering why anyone sitting at the kiddie table was nipping at this sickly sweet stuff, but that is another story. Read More
Beauty Bar The interior is filled with furniture and equipment scavenged from a Long Island beauty salon. The walls are adorned with 1950s-era glamour shots illustrating various hairstyles. The enormous hair dryer mounted on a chair near the restrooms, modified with colored lights, looks like it might moonlight as one of H.G. Wells’ Martian war machines. And near the entrance, a sign proclaims “Manicurist on Duty.” It’s not a kitschy gag; you really can get your nails done here. When Anna Seregina isn’t serving drinks, she works in a coffee shop and does stand-up comedy. Read More
In a president’s final months in office, he typically pardons his criminal friends, uses his Oval Office discount card at Dairy Queen ... stuff like that.
As you may have heard, my time as a restaurant critic is drawing to a close (be strong!). And like a lame-duck president, I’m taking advantage of my final hours in office. For this week’s review, I did a roundup of The City’s best prawn tacos. Read More
Up until a few years ago, Chile’s Central Valley was center stage, with cabernet sauvignon playing the starring role.
Carmenere, which was brought from Bordeaux to Chile in the 19th century, is somewhat popular, but vegetal qualities give it a limited appeal and prevent it from taking off the way malbec did in Argentina. Read More
Common wisdom is that seekers of decent, authentic Filipino food need to trek southward from The City, into the badlands of the Peninsula. Here in San Francisco, offerings are meager.
But if you want a dose of in-town authenticity, a Filipino meal to placate the purists, your destination is obvious: the mall food court. Read More
The diverse crowd that recently turned out to celebrate the bar’s 17th year in business would probably be surprised to hear that one commenter on Yelp, when asked about the best place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, expressed his opinion that “Irish bar” is often code for “white.” As if to drive home The Mucky Duck’s sense of inclusiveness, there’s a copy of Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis’ classic WWII recruitment poster mixed in with the 49ers posters and shamrocks adorning the bar’s walls. Read More