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Monk's Kettle

Absonot Jan 5, 2008 02:23 PM

I reviewed rworange's post already, but after going there today I thought I'd take the suggestion to start a new thread with the name of the place in the title.

After darting through the rain, we arrived here around noon and the place was a little less than half full. We were warmly welcomed as we grabbed two seats at the unoccupied bar. The beer selection is a bit overwhelming, but the bartender (Christian?) was very friendly and made it clear he'd be happy to answer any questions/give recommendations. We had an Epiphany and Fuller's London Bitter - served at the right temperature with healthy heads.

We settled on the bruschetta with white bean/cheddar puree and wild mushrooms. It was served on a La Brea baguette slice and was wonderful, although there were only two slices. The mixed greens accompanying them were perfectly dressed with a shallot oil vinaigrette.

Then we enjoyed the soup of the day (corn potato chowder - very thick and a bit too rich for me, but I am probably not typical in my preference for thinner chowders) and the giant pretzel. The whole grain mustard was appropriate but not too exciting. The cheddar ale sauce, however, was really good. A lot milder than I expected, and it did a great job of bringing out the yeastiness of the warm, chewy pretzel.

I don't agree with another poster who said this place is more like a bar that serves food than a restaurant that serves beer, but it might be because I was there during the daytime and everyone was eating. I imagine that at 10 on a Friday or Saturday the crowd would be more about drinking than eating. So that's something to keep in mind.

The bill for the food mentioned above plus 5 beers (?!) was about $62 - not a cheap lunch by any means, but not eye-popping either. I suppose given the amount of taps and breadth of selection, the premium is justified?

Decor was nice -- the bar has lamps on it, which adds a cozy vibe. And the frame for the bar shelves, in its former life, served as an ornate mantle for some mansion. It's beautiful. Bar stools are backless but covered in comfy cushioned leather. Kitchen is semi-open.

It's hard to see this place appealing to someone who just wants to grab a beer, but it's also hard to see it fitting the bill for someone who's looking for a good meal value. But it definitely stands out in that neighborhood as a unique option, and I see myself back here again in the future.

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  1. rworange RE: Absonot Jan 5, 2008 04:34 PM

    Nice report. Thanks for starting a new thread.

    Previous thread
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/475757

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    The Monk's Kettle
    3141 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    1. r
      rahir RE: Absonot Jan 5, 2008 04:43 PM

      I stopped by Monk's Kettle last Sunday before dinner at Minako. Got to MK around 6PM, and it was pretty packed. My date and I got on the list for a table, but we ended up scoring seats at the bar and so we just sayed there. Agree that the staff is friendly and helpful!! My date had the Arrogant Bastard (beer) and said it was tasty- one of the best beers he's had in quite some time. I had the black currant cider, which was refreshing. We shared the vegan chili, which focused more on mushrooms that tomatoes. It was light and flavorful, but could benefit from some accompanying bread or crackers. The guy next to me had the soup and then a hamburger and fries, and he was very satisfied, too. We'll go back again sometime, maybe when it's less crowded.

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        sylphi RE: Absonot Jan 5, 2008 10:15 PM

        What a coincidence. My husband and I were here at the same time. We pretty much had the same experience as you. We had the potato corn chowder (I also thought it was too rich), charcuterie plate (nice size but the grilled La Brea bread was really chewy and hard), giant pretzel and four beers. Our total came out to $60 something dollars with tip. Definitely not cheap but we thought it was worth the trip for the different beers they have available on draft - we had the epiphany, delirium, bernardus triple (since they were out of bernardus 12), and downtown brown.

        My main disappointment in this place was that their website states they open at 11:30am every day and when we got there at a little past 11:30am, we were greeted by the bartender saying that they did not plan on opening until noon and that they were still setting up. We basically stood inside by the door until they were ready to seat us. So if you want to go there for lunch, make sure you go at noon and don't go earlier unless you want to stand around.

        6 Replies
        1. re: sylphi
          Lori SF RE: sylphi Jan 5, 2008 10:23 PM

          Thanks for the heads up.. I might be going tomorrow. La Brea bread? funny, that is the best bread in LA strange that they get their bread from LA when there is so much here. It is chewy and travels well, meaning they won't have to buy fresh bread each day.

          1. re: Lori SF
            Xiao Yang RE: Lori SF Jan 5, 2008 10:27 PM

            They sell La Brea Bread at SF Costco. It's par-baked in LA and finished in Costco's ovens.

            1. re: Lori SF
              Melanie Wong RE: Lori SF Jan 6, 2008 10:43 AM

              La Brea sells par-baked bread to restaurants and grocery stores all over who then bake it when they need it. A lot of the final quality then depends on whether the end-seller can bake it properly.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                Lori SF RE: Melanie Wong Jan 6, 2008 10:58 AM

                Interesting.. I love their 9 grain which I see occasionally at Andronico's. When I lived in LA I adored their scones with rosemary and sea salt with crystalized sugar on top, the sweet/savory combo is great. Their bread can go strong for a more than a few days where Acme, Grace and some of the other local breads need to be eaten within a day or two.

                1. re: Lori SF
                  ChowFun_derek RE: Lori SF Jan 6, 2008 11:02 AM

                  Whole Foods bakes their bread as well...

                  1. re: Lori SF
                    Windy RE: Lori SF Jan 6, 2008 12:35 PM

                    Acme levain will last for days; a week in a breadbox.

            2. Lori SF RE: Absonot Jan 7, 2008 08:20 AM

              Made it in yesterday (Sunday) around 3:30 the place was full but we were able to get the last two spots at the bar. After we sat down there was about five people waiting at the door to sit at the tables. If I had to wait I probably would keep walking and go to the next place. It was a nice mix of people and ages.

              The space is nice, good use out of recycled materials giving them a new life creating a warm and cozy place.

              I don't have anything different to report just wanted to say that I had no idea that a giant pretzel could be so good. I am not a beer drinker but my boyfriend knows many of the local beer makers and makes it to Toronado often was impressed with the beer selection and helped me figure out what I should order. I was impressed that they have proper glasses for all the different types of beers.
              I had the Hop Stoopid, because apparently I am a hops girl not a pale ale girl
              and my b/f had the Arrogant Bastard. We also shared the" Artisan cheese plate
              with rotating cheeses, candied walnuts, organic Marshall's Farm honey, Sierra Glen Farm pear, Acme Bread toasted baguette" with two cheeses-one a Bellwether Pepato sheep semi-soft cheese very yummy and the other cheese (forget the name) had black truffles semi- hard cheese was quit good. This did the trick to soak up the beer. We decided to spread our love and go to Dosa for dinner, so this tied us over and it was a nice spot to chill on a late Sunday afternoon.
              Many have commented on how expensive it is, I am getting jaded I know but I think of it in terms of did I have a nice expereince, was there a level of quality, was the service good, would I go back.. and I say yes to all of that. Four draft beers, beautiful cheese plate and the giant pretzel all came to 37.00 + a 20% tip.

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                SteveG RE: Absonot Jan 22, 2008 11:30 AM

                Just had dinner last night, and generally agree with the other posts.

                Beer list: excellent, nice representation of Belgian beer but probably not as deep as the other two new beer joints that focus on Belgium. There's a good selection of western beers, from Montana's Moose Drool to closer to home Mendocino and Sonoma county offerings. I was particularly thrilled to see a Rauchbier, the Schlenkerla urbock which was my first Rauchbier and to my taste an excellent introduction to the category of beers made with smoked grains. I also noticed not only Saison duPoint for Mr. Mousse, but a second beer from the same producer that I haven't seen anywhere else.

                Sadly, the food wasn't up to the standard set by the beer. The giant pretzel was great, and freshly prepared or an excellent imitation of freshly prepared based on the temperature and texture. The burger was nice, though the fries were unremarkable and it would have been nice to have a pickle with the burger. My pulled pork sandwich was a real let down, however. House-made barbecue sauce completely overwhelmed the pork, and there was nothing else in the sandwich. A tiny cup of jicama slaw helped with the flavors in the sandwich, but wasn't nearly enough to balance all the barbecue sauce. I don't know if this sandwich is normally just bread with saucy pork and nothing else, but it really didn't have enough going on for me to want to order it ever again.

                We'll definitely be back for snacks and beer, but we're not going to rush back for the entrees. It may have been an "off" evening, as we had some of the last food of the night and the lone chef was visibly exhausted, to the point where he may have been cutting corners. I would have loved to see mussels on the menu, but no such luck.

                2 Replies
                1. re: SteveG
                  s
                  SarahKC RE: SteveG Mar 24, 2008 02:55 PM

                  I went for my third time last night. All three times I have gotten the burger. The first two times it was fantastic and last night well, they have a very liberal understanding of medium rare meaning no pink at all. Despite the disappointment last night, I will return as the average has been bolstered by the first two trips.

                  1. re: SteveG
                    singleguychef RE: SteveG Apr 2, 2008 10:51 AM

                    I visited Monk's Kettle for the first time on a weeknight (Tuesday night to be specific) and I agree with Steve that it's great for beer and snacks but not for main dinner and entrees.

                    I went with a friend and we had the pear salad with walnut vinaigrette, which was nice but not extraordinary. He had the veggie burger because he's watching his cholesterol and it looked really sad and he said it tasted just as sad.

                    I got the short ribs, which was really fork tender but it had a generic taste. Something like a home cook would produce, which means good but not interesting. I felt like I could reproduce the dish easily.

                    We got the giant pretzel because of what I read on some of the threads and while I agree with everyone about the freshness, I was really surprised no one mentioned the weird oily slime on the exterior. It was like sprayed butter. It really made the eating experience not enjoyable because it felt so greasy just picking it up.

                    As for the beer, the bartender and staff are super friendly and helpful so it's fun to experiment with the beer with their help. I had a Belgian beer that was really nice and it came in this funky glass with a rounded bottom. It looked like an experiment.

                    Anyway, the place was packed when we were there and it always seem packed when I walk by. I'm guessing it's people drinking beer and chatting because when I looked around, not too many people were order food like we were. Then again, we might just have been there around the happy hour crowd.

                    For me, like Steve, I wouldn't go back for the main entrees but maybe the sandwiches and snacks. And definitely the beer.

                    http://singleguychef.blogspot.com/200...

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                    sarahmilne RE: Absonot Jan 6, 2009 07:07 PM

                    Just bumping this thread up to say: I had the burger here last night and thought it was really very good. Best burger I've had so far in SF, which may not mean that much, since I haven't tried Zuni, Slow Club, or some of the other real contenders, but I definitely thought it was better than Street's, for instance. Particularly good char flavor from the grill, and nice thin, crispy fries.

                    Beer, which is obviously the main attraction, was great too, and since the beer/burger combo is a staple of my diet (that sounds bad, doesn't it?), I'll be back.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sarahmilne
                      i
                      isaac1972 RE: sarahmilne Jan 8, 2009 12:41 PM

                      I've been to Monk's Kettle probably a dozen times, and I have lots of nice things to say about it. The always changing beer selection is accessible via their exceedingly well-written and organized menu (dodging the beer nerd bullet that makes Tornado one of the snooziest bars in San Francisco). The food at Monk's Kettle is consistently very good (though I have not had the pulled pork), and the specials are always good. Service at the bar is impeccable, helpful and friendly without being corny and fake. Be warned however, if you are planning to be seated away from the bar and you see the dude with the ponytail is working, go immediately to another restaurant. Only that guy at Sozai is less suited for a job in the service industry.

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