Sunday, November 21, 2010

California (Day #2)

After an awesome first day in beautiful San Francisco, Nadine and I got up pretty early and hit up Haight-Ashbury. This part of San Fran is home to many independent restaurants,bars, clothing boutiques, bookstores, thrift shops, head shops, and music stores including the famous Amoeba music store. This part of town is known to be very artsy and hipster--but don't call the people hipster because they hate that.

After Nadine dragged me into many thrift shops and clothing stores, we stopped for lunch at Alembic. The outside of Alembic seemed a bit shady, but we felt more comfortable as we parked ourselves at the bar. The female bartender rocking the cut-off motorhead t-shirt greeted us with some cucumber water and menus. The place started out pretty dead, but picked up around noon. We originally stopped in for a cocktail, but the lunch menu looked awesome. A very small, but awesome menu of fresh food all coming from local producers.

But before we get into the food, lets talk about the cocktails. The cocktail menu is divided into two sections: The Canon and New School. The Canon was a list of classic favorites such as the old fashioned and sazerac while the New School section brought guests drinks such as The Gilded Lily and Southern Exposure. Like any good cocktail lounge, Alembic uses a lot of small batch liquors such as Buffalo Trace bourbon.

Some of the cocktails we tried...
The Gilded Lily
there are things in life that require little
adornment, but we are never ones to shy
away from a bit of grandeur. so we’ve
decided to bring a touch of sparkle to a
dark and cozy barroom. this baroque
number mixes plymouth gin, yellow
chartreuse, orange flower water, and
sparkling demi-sec and drop in a little
flake of gold leaf. shine on.
Southern Exposure
another refreshing elixir plucked straight
from the garden, our spin on the classic
southside uses junipero gin, fresh mint,
lime juice, a touch of sugar and a little
shot of fresh celery juice. loaded with
antioxidants to help deal with the haight’s
population of free "radicals".
The Vow of Silence
a rubenesque version of the derby
cocktail, we use wild turkey rye whiskey,
benedictine, creme de griotte, and a dash
of bitters. responsible for breaking more
than one vow.
Jack Rose
this classic joint reminds us of all that’s
taboo in this second oldest of
professions. two of the original forbidden
fruits, apple and pomegranate together in
one tart, pink, home wrecker of a cocktail.
laird’s bonded applejack, grenadine and a
little lemon juice. pucker up.
Bourbon Old-Fashioned
the oldest cocktail, and still one of the
best. nothing more than a slug of good
whiskey on the rocks, with a couple of
dashes of bitters, a little sugar, and a
twist of lemon peel to take the edge off.
sometimes the simplest things work best.
we make ours without the “garbage” - the
fruit salad with which the noble old
warhorse is so often weighed down.

After enjoying our cocktails and some conversation with some locals, we decided to place our food order. Nadine got the Beer Battered Rockfish Sandwich and I got the Pork Belly Sliders. Although the Pork Belly Sliders were awesome, Nadine's Rockfish sandwich was phenominal. The crispy beer battered rockfish was topped with a malt vinegar remoulade, savoy cabbage, and placed between a fresh, doughy sub. The sandwich came with old bay potato chips, a great side for a great sandwich. The Pork Belly Sliders were topped with fried green tomatoes, pickled onions, and a charred jalapeno aioli. Nadine also splurged for dessert, but I thought a nice cask conditioned beer was enough dessert.

Making friends with the bartender was a good idea and she hooked us up with a couple of rounds. Alembic is an awesome place to go for great cocktails and awesome food. Its a good time chatting it up with locals and picking the bartenders brain and she carefully creates cocktails using jiggers for exact measurements to ensure proper mixtures. Alembic might seem rough around the edges, but proves to be a great spot. I would definitely recommend Alembic if in San Fran.

After boozing the day away, we had dinner at Roy's with Nadine's relatives. Roy's Hawaiian Fusion is a cuisine developed by Roy Yamaguchi that combines European technique with Asian ingredients. Although the bar was empty, the restaurant was pretty packed. Roy's gave off a cool atmosphere with beautiful decor and an open kitchen.

I was a little bummed out that we were going to a chain restaurant, but that feeling vanished quick as our appetizers came to the table. A mixture of California rolls, lobster wantons, tempura rock shrimp, and duck breast lined the table as the four of us shared. Every appetizer was seemed better then the next! I also tried a Hawaiian lager that proved to be pretty tastey.

After a great start, I was anticipating the main course. I had ordered the braised short rib with mashed potatoes and carrots. The dish was not only incredibly decadent, but it was artfully prepared. Good food is good food, but when it looks good-that makes it a more pleasurable experience.

We ended the meal with a chocolate souffle, which is always a great ending. The only thing that I didn't like about Roy's was the location of the bathroom. I know this seems silly, but when the Hawaiian lagers are flowing-- its a pain in the ass to climb to the second floor to use the restroom. Other than that, the restaurant was on point. Now I know why Roy Yamaguchi is known as one as the best chefs in the world.

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