Very uncharacteristically, I was in San Francisco for the afternoon yesterday. I don’t love San Francisco very much, but I found a few spots that really hit the nail on the head.
1. If you find yourself in, or are willing to travel to, an undesirable neighborhood (the Marina) you can rely on an oasis of soothing at Blue Barn Gourmet on Chestnut. I love Blue Barn because of the truly amazing produce in their salads and sandwiches. Romaine lettuce isn’t something I usually want to write home about, but Blue Barn changed all that for me. Who knew romaine actually had flavor?! In addition to composing tasty lunches, Blue Barn serves as a point of contact for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) exchange.
2. Happy hour was spent at Nihon, a Japanese whisky bar. At 5:45, the rays of the sunset were streaming in and I was sitting with two lovely companions-one had the French 75 and the other the Negroni. Both were delicious. There were beats playing, but soft enough, and the bar was full but not crowded. I told the lovely waitress that I wasn’t in the mood for whisky (she was understanding), and was looking for something not too sweet (I detest sugary cocktails served up). She recommended the “21 Hayes,” with gin, cucumber and lemon. It was perfect: not too much alcohol, not too much saturated fruit or vegetable flavor, not too much simple syrup. Apparently, Jeff Hollinger of Absinthe Bar made this drink famous, but the Nihon version was good enough for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bring myself to stay for snacks or a second drink because it just got too crowded and loud in there for 6:30 (with everyone from college kids to yuppies to a baby carriage (?!)…people in the Bay are so crazy). But aren’t we glad someone is making money these days?