View all posts filed under 'Spirits/Cocktails/Beer'

Press Club is One Hot Ticket in Town

Friday, 27. July 2012 5:25

Shaved asparagus salad with a raw cow's milk cheese at Press Club.

Forgive me if I tell you that my first thought upon walking down the illuminated steps to the lounge-y Press Club wine bar was:

“If I were hip, young and single, man, oh man, would this be the place to hang out.”

Ahem, well, I may be none of those things. But Press Club in downtown San Francisco sure made me feel that I possessed each and every one of those attributes, if only for a night.

You’ll feel that way, too, in this dimly lit, expansive space that’s cozily divided into separate areas to linger in low-slung couches, at tall communal bar tables with chrome and leather stools or at a smattering of seats at the bars.

Take your pick, but don’t dally, as all those seats will surely be snapped up as the night wears on, as folks gather for after-work drinks, a girls-night-out soiree or just to take a load off after an afternoon of shopping on Union Square.

A communal bar table -- empty, but not for long.

As the night wears on, it will get packed at this popular gathering place.

While Press Club has always served food, it used to be more a place you’d stop in for a glass of wine and a quick nibble before heading elsewhere for dinner.

But that changed this spring when Chef Chris Borges of San Francisco’s Taste Catering came on board.

Under his direction, Press Club has transformed into a place where you would be remiss not to stay for the full shebang.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer, Wine | Comments (11) | Author:

A Toast to Absinthe

Wednesday, 18. July 2012 5:25

A popular starter of hamachi sashimi at Absinthe Brasserie and Bar in San Francisco.

No matter how long you’ve lived in the Bay Area, it’s impossible to get to every restaurant you’d like to try.

There are just too many of them. With more opening each and every week, too.

Such is the reason why it took me this long to finally visit the 15-year-old Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco.

When an invitation to dine as a guest at the restaurant presented itself a couple of weeks ago, it was the needed nudge that finally got me in the doors.

And boy, have I been missing out.

The lively restaurant in Hayes Valley is almost always packed, especially before nearby theater performances with folks grabbing a most civilized meal before racing off to the ballet or symphony.

Executive Chef Adam Keogh, who has cooked at Chez TJ in Mountain View and at a couple of Michael Mina Group restaurants, infuses classic French brasserie sensibilities with California flair to come up with menu items such as Atkins Ranch lamb sugo over papardelle ($22); spicy fried chickpeas ($4); and beef tartare ($16) with violet mustard, green apple and red onion.

A cocktail is a must here.

The plush dining room.

The restaurant is made up of several plush rooms, done up with burgundy walls sporting gold trim. There’s a large mural in one, depicting the inside of a dining room restaurant complete with servers and tables of diners.  At the entrance to the kitchen, there’s even a small toque painted above, appropriately enough.

When a restaurant is named for a once illegal spirit, you’ve just got to order a cocktail, don’t you? Absinthe has long been famed for its well-executed cocktails.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer | Comments (13) | Author:

Scenes from the 25th Anniversary Star Chefs & Vintners Gala

Tuesday, 24. April 2012 5:25

A Reuben slider from the crew at Foreign Cinema and Show Dogs restaurants at the Meals on Wheels gala.

It was a star-studded chef affair on Sunday night at Pier 48 in San Francisco, as more than 70 Bay Area top toques turned out to cook up a storm for a sold-out crowd in support of a noble cause.

More than 1,000 folks wined, dined and mingled at the sold-out 25th “Star Chefs & Vintners Gala,” the main fund-raiser for Meals on Wheels, the San Francisco organization that provides nutritious meals and support services to home-bound seniors. Last year’s event raised $1.4 million. Yours truly was lucky enough to be invited as a guest this year.

For the ninth time, Chef Nancy Oakes of Boulevard and Prospect, both in San Francisco, took the reins as gala chair for this megawatt event. The evening kicked off with a walk-around reception, in which mixologists shook up cocktails, vintners poured special vintages and a bevy of chefs manned stations to turn out gourmet noshes.

A night to remember for a worthwhile cause.

Chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, the dynamic duo behind Terra and Bar Terra, both in St. Helena, prepared bowls of their fabulous ramen complete with succulent pork slices and a oozy poached quail egg.

The Bar Terra team hard at work...

...serving up bowls of pork belly ramen.

Chef Victor Scargle of Lucy at Bardessono in Yountville served up cones of Georgia shrimp atop soba noodle salad made with the restaurant’s own rau ram herb, while Chef Ron Siegel of Parallel 37 in San Francisco followed the Asian vibe with a juicy scallop in dashi broth.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, Restaurants, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer | Comments (10) | Author:

San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton Goes From Staid to Hip with Parallel 37

Thursday, 23. February 2012 5:25

Kampachi sashimi at Parallel 37. One of the prettiest dishes you'll ever eat at a bar.

It used to be a place you’d never venture on a whim.

No, the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, high atop San Francisco’s blue-blood Nob Hill, was reserved for special times, when you got dressed to the nines to celebrate a planned, lofty occasion.

Those times have changed — dramatically.

The prim-and-proper Dining Room, the last of those concept restaurants at any Ritz-Carlton, finally was bid adieu late last year. In its place, the swank Parallel 37 opened, named appropriately enough for the geographic latitude running near the Bay Area.

With cocoa banquettes, bare tables and a focal point wall aglow with the image of a backlit oak forest, the new restaurant has gotten a fresh, contemporary makeover. It has a much larger bar, too, complete with two flat-screens, something unthinkable before. And parking for the restaurant has been dropped to a reasonable flat-rate of $10 to lure more folks to drop in on a regular basis.

Chef Ron Siegel at the bar of Parallel 37, the restaurant formerly known as the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton.

Amid this whirlwind of change, one constant has remained, thankfully. Executive Chef Ron Siegel, who has been at the helm since 2004, is still in charge.

“I like the new look,” he says of the transformation of his restaurant. “The other was a little stuffy. People in San Francisco love to eat out and to them, this has the right feel now. I like the energy it has.”

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Category:Chefs, Food TV, General, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Restaurants, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer | Comments (11) | Author:

Who Put Coffee and Chocolate In My Tequila?

Monday, 13. February 2012 5:26

Not your usual chocolates -- but cocoa tequila.

Someone very, very smart, that’s who.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Patrón Spirits has introduced a new tequila sure to make anyone swoon.

Patrón XO Cafe Dark Cocoa is Patrón Silver tequila combined with coffee from Vercruz and Chiapas, and chocolate from criollo cocoa beans, the rarest and most expensive grown.

The result is a 60-proof tequila that’s the color of hot fudge sauce.

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Category:Chocolate, General, New Products, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer | Comments (13) | Author: