Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Two Sisters' Eclectic Brunch Is a Haven with Personality

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary
  • Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary

Every now and then, you discover a place you're reluctant to recommend even to your close friends, for fear that the precious "hidden gem" quality will be corrupted by noisy patrons and lines gathering at the door. Two Sisters Bar & Books, the new restaurant and watering hole in the heart of Hayes Valley, is exactly that. Even during brunch service (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday), with only a handful of tables available for seating, Two Sisters is a haven of quiet comfort, the walls lined, unsurprisingly, with dusty hard-cover books and a customer sipping coffee in a pillow-filled window seat as light pours inside.


click to enlarge Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary
  • Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary
At first glance it might all seem a bit predictable: steaming teapots, bright printed wallpaper, antique-style wooden chairs, Edith Piaf crooning softly through the speakers, the picture of quaint Parisian perfection. In reality, though, there is nothing cliche about Two Sisters. The owners (two sisters, of course) describe the inspiration behind the space as a true melange: a bookstore in Krakow, a Vienna coffeehouse, a Parisian bar, the DIY Brooklyn restaurant scene, and their own NorCal roots. 

click to enlarge Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary
  • Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary
Similarly, the decor avoids a "cutesy" look by keeping the space minimal, letting rustic wood elements stand alone, and doing little to conceal industrial pipes at the back of the room. The effect is inviting and pleasantly down-to-earth. And when it comes to the bar, fruity mimosas take a backseat to more exciting concoctions, such as the Breakfast Martini ($10), a gin cocktail flavored with pear, lemon and fresh rosemary. After all, you can get a Bloody Mary almost anywhere, but how often do you see a breakfast martini?

click to enlarge Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary
  • Breakfast Martini, with gin, pear juice and rosemary
Even during brunch customers can also order off the regular cocktail menu, which includes a variety of seasonal beverages. The Spring's Arrow ($10) strikes a perfect balance between sweet fruit and prominent booze, starring gin (again), strawberries and lemon, the glass' rim coated with a refreshing blend of sugar and black pepper. 

click to enlarge Summer's Arrow: gin, strawberry juice and black pepper
  • Summer's Arrow: gin, strawberry juice and black pepper
The kitchen offers only five brunch entrees, all distinctive, from baked eggs and quiche to an amaretto-chocolate French Toast Bread Pudding. The Warm Lentil Salad ($9) is light but satisfying, with the heat of the lentils wilting the arugula just so and a tangy, mustard-laced vinaigrette adding punchy flavor. The salad is topped with shaved radishes and simple goat cheese toasts to give the dish some heft.

click to enlarge Warm Lentil Salad, with shallots, radishes and goat cheese toasts
  • Warm Lentil Salad, with shallots, radishes and goat cheese toasts
The Madame Rarebit ($10) is another win, just unexpected enough to keep things interesting. The open-faced sandwich is topped with two fried eggs and pickled onions, but the real standout is a cheddar-ale sauce that stands in for the usual Hollandaise you see on brunch menus. It's cheesy and mustard-y with a potent beer taste, soaking into the sandwich bread and spilling deliciously onto the bright side salad of arugula and radishes.

click to enlarge The Madame Rarebit: an open-faced sandwich with fried eggs and cheddar-ale sauce
  • The Madame Rarebit: an open-faced sandwich with fried eggs and cheddar-ale sauce
Of the sides, the Potato Latkes ($4) are exactly what they should be -- patties of shredded potatoes with crisp, golden brown edges -- but it's the spicy ketchup that makes them really seductive.

click to enlarge Potato Latkes with spicy ketchup
  • Potato Latkes with spicy ketchup
The restaurant doesn't take reservations, but at least for now, they aren't necessary. They also accept cash only, so plan accordingly or use the ATM in the back. Take out enough for a second cocktail, and pick out a book by the door -- you'll want to hang around a while. 

Olivia Ware works for Williams-Sonoma, where she contributes to the company blog The Blender.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Olivia Ware

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"