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Aug 21, 2012 08:04 PM

Hot Gastropubs in San Fran

Coming to San Fran next week with a few buddies. We're big into the beer culture, but we also love fine grub and a good scene. We would greatly appreciate recommendations for some gastropub-type joints with exceptional beer lists, great menus and a good crowd. We need to fill four nights.

FYI - We're potentially going to Wexler's one night (which from my review of the menu looks good but a tad short on the beer list). Any thoughts on this place would be appreciated as well!

Thanks all!

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  1. Abbot's Cellar or the more casual Monk's Kettle.

    SuppenKuche for Beer + German food.

    Not beer pub-ish as much, but good beer lists + good seafood: Bar Crudo or Anchor + Hope (I prefer Bar Crudo a bit better).

    7 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      Abbot's Cellar looks just flat out on the money. Monk's Kettle had been floated to me from someone as well and also looks great. Thanks very much for the suggestions.

      1. re: mrnas

        Just went to Abbott's Cellar last night, and the beer list was amazing. Pages and pages by the glass and by the bottle. BUT...the food was mediocre or worse. Bad enough that we were actually angry. Much prefer St. Vincent, with a smaller but gorgeous list and incredible food.

        One more: Schmidt's, the German restaurant in the Mission (Folsom at 20th).

        1. re: jane

          Yep. With the caveat that almost all the beers are German, Schmidt's food is good enough to fit the bill.

          1. re: bigwheel042

            What the heck is the problem? German beer is some of the finest in the world. Some people are sick and tired of highly hopped high alcohol beers.

            The reason American craft brewers don't make Kolsch or Bocks is because they would rather mash out a boatload of two row because it's easier.

            1. re: DillMuncher

              I don't know much about brewing -- what makes it easier?

              BTW, that reminds me: Magnolia usually has a Kolsch.

              1. re: DillMuncher

                Sorry, I probably should have replaced "caveat" with "qualifier." "Caveat" makes it sound like I'm warning people off the place, when really I intended to say that it's just something to consider.

                Not saying it's a problem per se, just that if you want a really large variety of styles to choose from, or just flat-out don't like most German beers, it might not fit the bill. Also my personal preference is something brewed nearby to wherever you are - usually it'll be a bit fresher.

                About half of the options on draft at Schmidt's right now are pretty common offerings (spaten optimator, franziskaner hefe, spaten marzen, maybe the radeberger pils); if you're looking for something a little more obscure, the options might seem a little thin. The bottle selection does look pretty good but might be less of a value - the one time I went to Schmidt's the "large" size of draft beer was a very generous pour.

                As for what makes it easier, I think DillMuncher's point is that many German breweries have had to master subtlety and balance in the beers they brew, often involving highly specialized malt varieties, whereas in the USA, the craft-brewed India Pale Ale is still very popular and has allowed breweries to cut corners. With an IPA - not one of my favorite styles - a lesser brewer will often just use generic malt varieties and bury any weird flavors under a mountain of hop bitterness. Personally I think that the German brewing laws are unnecessarily hampering experimentation in German beer and would like to see what German brewers could do if they had the same free rein as brewers in the US and Belgium have.

            2. re: jane

              We had dinner at The Abbot's Cellar on Monday evening, seated at the Chef's Table (counter seating #47 & 48). I agree that the beer list is amazing and we had the Mendo Mello and the Old Rasputin - enjoying every drop.
              Our food was wonderfully divine - the menu changes so it's an adventure to delight and compare pairings. Service was attentive, professional, and friendly. We were seated early just after 6 o'clock - by 7:30 pm the restaurant was filled and energetic (noise-level).
              The heat radiating from the 692°F oven began to blast as the orders cranked up the pace. It was a joy to watch as the plates passed by - a visual parade of the menu.
              We started with the yellow finn potato gnocchi with braised short rib and crispy oyster mushrooms - any gnocchi would be my must order dish and we added the lemon roasted chaterelles with Dungeness crab and roasted/pickled cauliflower. The contrasts and play of ingredients refreshed my palate with each bite. The entree that we shared was the roasted monkfish on celery root puree with fava beans and oyster mushrooms. Dessert was the small Four Barrel coffee/French press "ethiopia dedessa dembi zuria with notes of raspberry, cranberry, hibiscus, and bergamot to accompany the "spiced red kuri squash cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and pumpkin carmet". We walked out the door quite contented. This was a very pleasant evening, gently paced with lovely nuance - for the early diner. The scene changes with the rhythm of the evening, go later for the full buzz.

        2. Scotch eggs at Wexler's!

          1. St. Vincent is more about wine than beer, but the beer list is exceptional.

            A Cote in Oakland. Easy to get to on BART. Scroll down for beer list:

            Trappist in Oakland. Easy to get there on BART. More of a bar than a gastropub but the food's really good. Huh, no sample menu I can find on the Web site, here's some discussion of the food:


            I didn't think that much of the food at Monk's Kettle. Haven't been to the new place yet.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I think it's a stretch to call A Cote a gastropub. It's a restaurant with a very nice beer selection. Don't get me wrong, I like the place, but I usually order a cocktail first and wine second, that's what they're best at.

              Yelp thinks La Trappe, Fat Angel, The Galley, BottleCap, The Tipsy Pig, Urban Tavern, The Republic, Two Sisters, The Pig & Whistle, Abbot's Cellar, and Sycamore are all gastropubs.

              I'm a fan of The Sycamore, but it's more of a GastroDive.

                1. re: bbulkow

                  Fat Angel seems to have a heavier emphasis on wine, but the beers they have on tap are thoughtfully chosen. I'd recommend it to the OP. The soft pretzel there is great, and the rest of the food and menu looked great.

                  Monk's Kettle is too small for "a few buddies" unless you go at an off hour.

                  Since the OP is interested in beer, they might want to do a tour of Anchor Brewery (M-F only). SF's breweries, or I guess brewpubs, aren't known for excellent food, but a post below highlights what are probably the tops ones that could fit in the gastropub category. I agree that Magnolia has good beer and good food. Southern Pacific is fairly new. I haven't tried their food yet. It's an enormous space. My friends loved their wit beer. My tasting of the porter wasn't great, and my pint of IPA was so piney I moved it to the bussing tray after a few sips.

                  1. re: hyperbowler

                    I've done the Anchor Brewery on a previous visit to the Bay area and highly recommend it. This time, we're stepping it up a notch and taking a day trip to Sonoma for the Russian River and Bear Republic breweries.

                    1. re: mrnas

                      the 'gastro' part of gastropub in an ideal world would mean food that's a level or two better than standard commercial-grade pub fare. depending on your standards of course, the foods in those two places are only marginally better or within the mediocre mainstream of pub fare. of course the beer/ale selection in both is better than most pubs, if you like their house style.

              1. Brand new spot called The Corner, looks great!

                10 Replies
                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Anyone ever heard of ChurchKey in SF?

                        There's an unbelievable restaurant in DC with the same name, but there does not seem to be any connection. I also don't see any website for the San Fran ChurchKey. Any insight would be appreciated!


                        1. re: mrnas

                          I went to Church Key a couple of times not long after they opened. Nice enough bar. The only food at the time was meat pies from Broken Record.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I've also had chicharrones, but that's about it

                          2. re: mrnas

                            Churchkey isn't a Gastropub and definitely doesn't have a full menu, but I seem to remember getting a very good sausage there once. They do have a great bottle menu, about 8 interesting beers on tap, and an area upstairs that's usually not too crowded. Their trivia night aside, it's a nice escape from the clamor of North Beach.

                          3. re: Melanie Wong

                            The Corner Store doesn't seem very beer-oriented. I think nerickson must have been taling about Jasper's.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              The Corner Store offers 20 beers, including 7 on tap, though that may seem small compared to the 60 at Jasper's.
                     (select "menu" tab)

                              I'd like to hear reports on both.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Ah, the previous link you posted said six beers. Not bad, though not a beer fanatic's list.

                      2. Magnolia in SF - good food and cask ale.
                        Southern Pacific SF - decent food and beer. Architecturally it is a good spot.
                        Social Kitchen - new brewery seems to be improving the beer and again pretty good food.

                        In Oakland check if Commonwealth Cafe is opened up again yet - they had a fire in July and were anticipating opening sometime in September. If so its really good food and beer.

                        And if it is just beer and no food - don't forget the likes of City Beer and Beer Revolution. Personally think anyone interested in beer would be crazy to miss out on these two places.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rob133

                          Commonwealth Pub is still under construction.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I spoke to Ross at the benefit at Linden Street - he was optimistically aiming for an early September reopening date.