SF: Tee Off – The divine dive with chicken fried steak, burgers …and stuffed quail
Let me be clear about this. This is the definition of a dive bar. Don’t be fooled by the gourmet fare with the beautiful presentation.
I read about the great food this place was making since new owners took over in 2007. The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” recently filmed here.
Ironically this would have been my mom’s birthday and she would NOT have approved my going there. I did mentally toast her with my glass of New Belgium’s Giddy Up Ale (brewed with lemon peel and infused with espresso).
And really … this lady is not a tramp. I needed to work up my courage to walk in. I don’t usually frequent dive bars.
Yet the staff was so wonderful and the food so delicious that I was feeling very comfortable very soon. It was a totally pleasant experience and I’ll be back.
There are about a dozen dishes on a white board across from the bar. Walk up to the bar and order and the food is brought to you.
I ordered what seems to be a signature dish, mac & cheese with pancetta. It came with a mixed green salad with pear, strawberries and pineapple dressed with raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.
It was a very nice presentation, on a large terracotta tile that served as a tray for the black skillet with the mac and cheese next to a huge mound of salad.
There was a thick cheese sauce with large rigatoni tubes and generous bits of pancetta mixed in. It was topped with fresh grated cheese.
I don’t usually like sweet salads, but this was good.
Most dishes are $11 and with beer the $16 tab given the ambiance at first seemed steep until the food arrived. There are quality ingredients and the portions are more than generous.
There are about a half dozen beers on tap and I also tried the Poppy Jasper Amber Ale made in Morgan Hill
Condiments (Heinz catsup, Tapatio, mustard, pepper) were served in a Pacifica Clara 6 pack.
The chef drops off the dish at the table. He’s an intense, serious guy. Each dish is cooked to order, so there’s somewhat of a wait.
When the new owners took over, they spiffed up the place … good heavens … what did it look like before?
The front room has a long, old-fashioned 12 stool bar and one booth. There are hooks under the bar which were convenient to hang my bag.
The next room has the pool table and other board games. In the back is an outdoor patio with picnic tables, a ping pong table and BBQ grills.
Almost every inch of the knotty pine paneled room is covered with bar kitsch … a green lava lamp next to a green leprechaun, lots of sport memorabilia, Simpsons toys, framed beer company mirrors, etc, etc
At a customer’s request, Karate Kid was playing on the TV at one end of the bar and a sports program on the other bar TV.
The customers range from legal drinking age to 60 plus. A nice older Asian couple was sitting next to me. Everybody seems to fit. Sort of reminded me a bit of the intergalactic bar in the first Star Wars.
The other items on the white board
Stuffed quail with wild rice and vegetables
Pulled pork sandwich
Grilled chicken breast sandwich
Aciete pork chop
Burger and fries
Fish & chips
BBQ brisket sandwich
Achiote chicken tenders
They have brunch on the weekends. The chicken fried steak looked fabulous
The hours seem uncertain. Mon-Thu they open at 2pm. Fri-Sun 11 am. During the week sometimes they serve food at opening. Today they didn’t start serving until 6pm. They close at 2 am, but I think the food service ends sooner.
Here’s my previous query about the menu.
Corrections to that post. There is no set menu and the catsup isn’t house-made. There is another menu in that post with dishes they have served in the past
3129 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121
What about the chicken fried steak? Tough (no pun intended) to find a decent chicken fried steak in the Bay Area.
What's with the "Aciete pork chop"? Aceite (oil) is often misspelled "aciete" but I still can't image what an "oil pork chop" could be. Do you know? At first I thought it might be an "achiote pork chop" but that can't be right because the whiteboard had "achiote chicken tenders."
Had dinner at Tee Off last night (Friday night). My BF lives in the Richmond, just a few blocks away, so I was very happy when I read about this place here on Chow.
Dinner was excellent, especially when you consider the price point. The prices are incredibly reasonable for food at this level.
I had their fish and chips (it was a cold night and I wanted comfort food) and my BF had the pork chop. Presentation of both dishes was beautiful. My F&C came on the previously described square slate plate. Three large fish fillets, lightly battered and a lot of very good fries. Nice extras were a cut lemon with grill marks and a hollowed out tomato with tartar sauce. They also asked if I like malt vinegar (I do) and provided a ramekin of that too.
The pork chop was completely covered with a mango pinapple salsa and roasted vegetables. The meat itself was tender and smoky and underneath was a bed of wild rice pilaf, as per the BF.
Pretty incredible, as the fish was $10 and the pork chop $15.
There were no *exotic* items on the board, like the previously mentioned kangaroo or quail, but several solid standards and a few specials, which I guess change based on what the chef has available.
We arrived around 7pm on a Friday night and there were a few other folks at the bar, some having food, some just drinking, but it wasn't at all crowded. We easily got seats at the bar, where we also ate dinner.
Since we had already had been drinking some wine before we walked over to Tee Off, we wanted to stay with wine. They offered an Argentine Malbec and that was it. The lady behind the bar (I am guessing that she is one of the owners) said they will be in Food & Wine magazine soon, so they are going to be getting more wines. The Malbec they had was a good table wine and went well with the food and I believe it is was about $5 a glass.
Because this is a convenient location to my friend's house, I am sure we will be returning frequently.
On the way back from dinner at Aziza, I cruise by Tee Off and tell a friend to check it out.
Me: What's on the white board for dinner at Tee Off tonight
Freind: Seared Roo ...
Me: What? ! ?
Friend: ... in a reduction sauce
Me: What? ! ?
Friend: Seared kangaroo In a reduction sauce
Silence while we both absorb and contemplate the wonder of this
Me: So ... what kind of reduction sauce?
Friend: It was a dive bar serving kangaroo in reduction sauce. My brain couldn't process much more
We both contemplate trying the Roo. Sadly we are just too stuffed after the dinner at Aziza.
As we are driving onto the Bay Bridge
Me: Take-out !
Me: They do take out. We could have ordered Roo in reduction sauce to go.
We are sad it is too late to turn around. We agree our next SF dinner is at Tee Off
I wonder if brunch tommorrow will have Roo hash.
That's really interesting. Kangaroo "goods" (mostly soccer shoes) were illegal to import into California for the longest time...which I guess also meant kangaroo meat. But it looks like the ban was overturned in April or there abouts.
Here's something from wikipedia on kangaroo meat: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo...
Somehow I'd guess it's like venison (bambi) or ostrich...but who really knows. Hopefully someone can tell everyone.
There is a place called the Argo that sounds similar in Vancouver, though it is a diner rather than a bar. They have all the usual diner suspects (which are good) but then every day the chef (and he really is a chef) puts up 8 wicked lunch specials. Last time we went I had short ribs for $10 Cdn. They often have things like ahi tuna and frenched lamb chops for that price. And did I mention you get a complimentary cup of soup?
I have now added Tee Off to my 40-page-long list of Bay Area restos/reviews... thanks rw.