Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bar Agricole: Great place for cocktails in SOMA

Bar Agricole is a great addition to the SOMA bar and restaurant scene. Bar Agricole advertises as a modern urban tavern but it's much much more than a simple bar. It's a blend of San Francisco foodie heaven and an ultra-hip mixologist bar scene. Bar Agricole's inconspicuous outer facade tells nothing of its beautiful and creative use of space. Once you enter the front door off busy 11th Street, you are immediately greeted by an open courtyard of tables, rare in San Francisco let alone SOMA. Past the outdoor drinks area (sadly the don't allow food outside) is the actual restaurant. The restaurant's decor is impeccable. The refurbished wood tables, brushed concrete and savvy shapes of the furniture really make Bar Agricole stand out from other restaurants in town.

I'd say the booze is the main reason people come to Bar Agricole. The mixologists behind the bar are excellent at mixing up delicious concoctions. The drink menu has exotic drinks such as the Knickerbocker Swizzle, Whiz-Bang and Monkey's Gland and some steady favorites like the Scotch Sour and Old Fashioned. It's a real treat to sit at the bar and watch the bartenders whip up these creative drinks.

We had a vastly different experience with the food. We ordered a few appetizers at the bar as we enjoyed our drinks but unfortunately the bartender did not "warn" us what we were ordering. We ordered the king salmon gravlax which was delicious but when the second plate came out it clearly wasn't risotto balls. At this point, the Maitre D' approached us and said, "It's good to see adventurous eaters." We knew we were in trouble as he went on to explain the dish in front of us was boiled sliced cow's head. Yes, cow's head, cartilage and all. We didn't want to crush his heart so we decided to be adventurous and give it a try. It tasted like boiled cow's head, but oddly enough my friend ate it up. All in all, the food at Bar Agricole is too foodie and pretentious for me. I like to be able to read the menu and know what I'm ordering thus Bar Agricole is a drinks-only establishment for me. I do wish our bartender had said something when we ordered, because boiled cow head is just not a normal dish to have on a menu. If you are going to have exotic menu items in another language, the entire staff, bartenders and all, should be trained to discuss (I mean warn) the menu with customers.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pho Vietnam: Great Pho Open Late

Pho Vietnam is a great place to escape the cold winter (I mean summer) days in San Francisco. Conveniently located on Polk Street between California and Pine, Pho Vietnam is the perfect place to stop in for a quick bite when running errands or carry-out after work. Their Pho has also been known to magically cure hangovers and the flu, like all good Pho should.

Pho Vietnam is open everyday from 10am -10pm and run by a nice family who seem to always be at the restaurant. The service is friendly and the food is served fast. The restaurant is minimally decorated and screams neighborhood gem. I don't think the interior has been updated since the restaurant was first opened sometime in the 80's (or at least that's what decade the decor is from). The photos on the walls of different palces in Asia are good eye candy and quite entertaining if you've traveled there before.

The Pho really is fantastic. My favorite is the chicken broth base the beef broth is a close second. Each Pho comes with a bountiful side dish of bean sprouts, mint, jalapenos, and lemon slices. On the table is an assortment of sauces to dress up your Pho from Sriracha sauce and soy to vinegar and fish sauce. Also on the table are two types of chopsticks, green plastic reusable chopsticks for the environmentally conscious and wooden disposable chopsticks for the germ-a-phobes.

Pho Vietnam is the best Pho available in Nob Hill. With so many competitors in the Tenderloin's Little Saigon, its good that Nob Hill has its own go-to Pho place open late. Stop on by Pho Vietnam and you will not be disappointed in their Pho, Pho Sure!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Monkey: Great Thai Food in the Mission

Another Monkey is a hip and fun place to grub on delicious Thai food in the Mission. The restaurant fits perfectly with the hipster vibe of the Mission with its modern open dining room and stylish decor. The restaurant always seems to be busy (but in a good way) and has a high-energy vibe reminiscent of a restaurant in the Sukhumvit in Bangkok. The restaurant is a great place to host a party, I hosted a birthday party for my fiance there a few weeks ago and our party was given a private room free of charge and wonderful attention from multiple servers.

The food at Another Monkey is a mouthwatering blend of modern and authentic Thai recipes and flavors. The menu offers many types of selections from individual sized appetizers and entrees to elaborate dishes meant to be shared. Some of the stand out appetizers are: Bags of Gold (minced chicken and shrimp wrapped in rice paper sacks), Crispy Imperial Rolls, Fried Sweet Corn Patties, Vegetarian Samosas and Stuffed Mushrooms with chicken and shrimp. The to die for entrees are: Gang Pumpkin Curry Chicken, Northern Thai Hung Le Curry of Pork Belly, Crispy Soft Shell Crabs (literally melt in your mouth delicious), Asian Sirloin Beef, Spicy Tofu and the always popular Pad Thai.

In addition to the great food, Another Monkey has a fantastic bar with a hip urban vibe. The bar is literally a work of art, with the tables and stools crafted from authentic Thai drums. The bar has great Happy Hour specials: Sunday- 2 for 1 beer and wine, Monday- 1/2 off bottles of wine, Tuesday- Thai Taco Night with $2 Thai tacos, $3 burritos, $3 Thai beer, Wednesday- $6 Manhattans, Old Fashions or a combo shot of Jameson & a beer. The bar also offers Bangkok-Style Street Food for $7.50 during happy hour from 5-7pm.

Another Monkey is a great Thai restaurant and is my go-to for Thai in the Mission. Check it out, you won't be disappointed in the delicious flavors and spectacular Thai themed cocktails at the bar.