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trick dog - just go now. [San Francisco]

went hear tonight - was not too crowded, but also not empty - can't imagine what it must be like on a more crowded night.

this is hands-down one of the best cocktail spots in the city right now, if not the best - over a couple of visits i've had five cocktails and every sinkgle one has been incredibly well-balanced (as a result, a "signature drink" hasn't quite yet emerged yet because they're all amazing). even though it's the 15 romolo guys, the cocktails are better than anything i ever had there (not that those also weren' tincredible).

while the food items themselves are different from the 15 romolo menu, the idea is the same, tasty affordable bar food that's coming from chefs that clearly have a fine dining background.

gorgeous space too - very old-timey feel.

would go before it gets insanly crowded.

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    1. re: DavidT

      20th and what please? Their website gives no info other than address. TIA

      1. It's already insanely crowded nearly all the time. Apparently not on Mondays.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Windy

          yep, seems ilke monday is the best time to go - perfect amount of people - given how labor-intensive the drinks are, i can imagine the bar getting pretty backed up

          1. re: Windy

            Yeah, I haven't been cuz I'd heard it's crazy busy since opening day.

            Some positive comments here,

          2. Any suggestions for a second choice cocktail bar if its too crowded? After finding a long line, we wound up hoofing it to the Hideout at Dalva on a Saturday night a few weeks back. Wasn't too busy, but I couldn't think of an alternative off the top of my head.

            5 Replies
              1. re: vulber

                Yes, or Slow Club or Southern Pacific Brewing.

                1. re: Windy

                  cocktails are good at southern pacific, but it's definitely a brewery first.

                  1. re: vulber

                    Rock Bar and Royal Cuckoo are both fun and have good (and different from each other) cocktail lists. Funky decor in both. Royal Cuckoo has jazz performers on its Hammond B3 organ nightly. At Rock Bar you can order from Front Porch across the street and they will bring it over.

                    1. re: Calvinist

                      Thanks, vulber, that's a really nice tip-- I've not been impressed by SP's beers, but I've been wanting to check out their food for a while.

                      Rock Bar and Royal Cuckoo are quite a walk from Trick Dog, but if I'm playing designated driver, look like good options in terms of parking availability and menu.

            1. As noted, Trick Dog was slow this past week during the Burning Man displacement. A good opportunity for my first visit.

              Saturday night before 8pm, the greeter at the door said that we might find a spot to stand toward the right side of the bar. While swimming upstream through the throng toward that goal, I looked upwards and noticed that the tables on the mezzanine were empty. We found out that the table seating is for dinner customers and it was a no-brainer to decide to order a first-course here.

              Upstairs, "reserved" cards mark each table even though no reservations are accepted. Our server explained that this deters customers from seating themselves.

              In Linda Ronstadt's honor, I ordered the "Heat Wave" - Hangar One vodka, Lillet rose, galliano, watermelon, lime, meletti amaro. A study in citrus with zesty acidity balancing the sweetness, this could have used a touch more bitter. Still lovely nonetheless.

              My favorite of the bar bites turned out to be the Beer Nuts. Described on the menu as Spanish peanuts, Miller High Life, espelette, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, orange zest, they reminded me of the toffee nuts of childhood. Not sure where the beer element shows through, the sweet crunchy coating zipped up with piment de espelette's fruity spice took an unexpected turn with the last minute gilding of fragrant orange zest.

              White fish spread served with everything seedy wonton crisps was good enough. More moisture could have helped and something bitter in the seasoning made it a bit out of kilter.

              Sirloin tartare was coarsely chopped, the way I prefer it. Blended with mustard, fresh herbs, cornichons, and a raw egg yolk, the seasoning was on the mild side. A little more salt or even Worcestershire sauce could have sparked the dish. The garlic bread, a split roll grilled to golden brown crispness on the cut edge and still soft and spongy inside instead of dried out toast points deserves special mention.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Supposedly the beer nuts had espresso in them, which was why I ordered them. I didn't taste any beer either, which is good, because I don't like beer. They were great.

                The tartare was missing acidity, I think.

                Agree about the white fish salad. It was a little too bland. I loved the crackers.

                My drink was fine but sweet and unmemorable.

                Service upstairs was delightful. Enthusiastic and attentive, but no one pushing us to vacate either.

                1. re: Windy

                  Unmemorable as it was, might you remember the name of your drink?

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Consulting the website, it was a seriously misnamed Evil Woman. More like a Mild Lady. http://www.trickdogbar.com/menus/

                    Which means yours was (aptly) a Heat Wave. Not sure if they're songs or artists.

                    1. re: Windy

                      Evil Woman and Heat Wave are both songs.

                  2. re: Windy

                    Since "Beer Nuts" are an actual snack item that you can purchase at stores (or you used to be able to), I imagine that the bar is doing an upscale version of that product. The Beer Nuts that I've had in the distant past were non-salty nuts. They are made to eat with beer, not that beer is a component.

                2. One trick to getting a seat downstairs is to arrive before 5pm...sneak out of work early or go on a weekend afternoon.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: mhoff

                    Gotta admire your dedication! Do you have a favorite cocktail here?

                    Hours from the website:

                    3pm – 2 am 7 days a week

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Favorites on the new menu (they switched over in mid-July) include Mr. Big Stuff (made with tequila, Gran Classico, coconut, bay laurel tincture, and lime, served in a ceramic pineapple) and She's Gone (rum, pear brandy, herbal syrup, lemon, tonic.) It's a solid list all around, though.

                      1. re: mhoff

                        When Trick Dog abandoned the Pantone menu and switched to the vinyl records, it made up new drinks, not just renamed them?

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          yes, it's a completely new menu with all new drinks. and as a regular, I have to say I think it's a more successful set.

                          1. re: mhoff

                            Thank you, how do you feel about the bar bites?

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Love the ginger-chicken rice plate & the kale salad. Good fries too!

                              1. re: mhoff

                                Thanks, you've been a great source of info and I'm glad you decided to speak up. Please keep posting about your other finds.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I'm loyal to my local! (But should probably disclose: I'm an editor at Serious Eats, so most of my finds end up going up there...)

                        2. re: mhoff

                          That sounds delicious. I particularly like that they're using a variety of "base" spirits. A lot of places use gin in most or all of their cocktails, and I'm allergic to gin (it took me years to figure out that the reason I wheezed when I drank gin-and-tonic was that my juniper pollen allergy extends to juniper in gin).

                    2. Three-day pop-up by Chris Kronner filling in between the old chef and the new one, Sunday through Tusday, 5:30-1am. Menu here:


                      The white pig sausage might be the same as the boudin blanc he served at Ordinaire this week. Best ever.

                      5 Replies
                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              stopped by there this evening but they weren't serving food until 6pm (and I couldn't wait) so went next door to Salumeria and had a great roast beef sandwich w/ chilled corn soup

                      1. Guess I owe the requisite poorly lit photos of Kronner's pop-up, "Ordinary Dog" at Trick Dog. We arrived at 10:40pm and had a 35 minute wait for a table.

                        Wine list looked interesting. I had a glass of Chevergny rosé, $9, that I enjoyed.

                        Lobster terrine, $15, came with a couple pieces of buttered toast and some very sour pickled veggies. Terrine barely tasted like lobster and if I'd not known it was supposed to be made of the shellfish, I probably would not have been able to pick it out. Given that it was about the price of a lobster roll, I guess I expected to find at least a couple chunks of lobster meat in there. Extremely salty, so much so that we could only eat part of it.

                        Anchovies, $8, served with a stiff aioli were fine. Very delicate fish, somewhat greasy and dense batter that broke apart when poked into in the heavy aioli. Hit with too much finishing salt that I tried to shake off each fish. Not nearly as good as Nopa's little fried fish.

                        Pole beans and shell beans salad, $12, with hard but sweet sungold tomatoes and a whiff of mint . . . a somewhat neutral vinaigrette that reminded us of deli case three-bean salad. More of the heavy aioli.

                        Kronner burger, $25, we were lucky to get the last one available. Not listed on the menu so we had no idea what the price would be. Came with thick cut fries, blue cheese dip and a small section of marrow bone. Impressed by the crisp outsides of the fries and creamy interior even though not my favorite style. Good hunk of marrow in the bone. Burger was fine, but I'd never pay that much for this dish again. Rare and SALTY as advertised.

                        Cured and grilled goat with bitter greens, $20. Greens were not only bitter but woefully undercooked, fibrous, and tough. Cured and grilled goat was thinly shaved and fell apart into brittle, chewy bits with no flavor appeal that I could figure out. Chunks of braised goat were cut too bit and a mix of moderately tender fattier ones and pieces that were impossible to chew. This was taken off our bill. We also got a 10% discount on the entire bill which was gracious of the management.

                        With one glass of wine, tax, tip and discounts, this came to $80 for two. Several items were sold out by the time we ordered, so perhaps we missed the greatest hit parade. I guess it's hard to cook in someone else's kitchen.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          His cooking has been consistently great at Ordinaire, but he usually does only five or six dishes.