When you sit at Noir's communal table, the slatted blinds above cast a slightly sinister light, as if eating risotto were now une liaison dangereuse. With the Bogie-and-Bacall classic Dark Passage playing on the TV, it's even better.
So went the debut of Blind Tiger Tap Room, Hayes Valley's newest restaurant-within-a-lounge. For ambience, Noir's very slightly lurid romance isn't really found anywhere else. And the food puts presentation on the same pedestal as atmospherics.
A plate of Fra'Mani salami (with a peppery fresh peach sauce, sliced gherkins, pickled onions, grainy mustards, and crostinis) whets the appetite, while the sweet corn risotto with basil and parmesan sits beneath a couple of wonderful onion rings and delivers full satiation. It's high and low, together (High and Low being another famous noir film). The meetinghouse biscuits, three smallish cubes with honey butter, were less successful, crumbly where they should have been flaky and a little too dense in the middle.
But it's the beer list that makes a trip to Blind Tiger worth it. (It is, primarily, a speakeasy). Twelve-ounce pours of rarities like Bison Honey Basil Lager or San Diego's superb Coronado Orange Ave. Wit, standards of Anchor Liberty and Green Flash IPA and "big beers" (17-25 oz.) of Drakes Denogginzer or Ninkasi Triceratops Double IPA all belie a list that's as painstakingly curated as you'll find anywhere. There are also wines on tap and by the glass and an intriguing Black Cherry Cider.
Noir is now a place worth stopping at twice in one day, both for the excellent Lunchpad pop-up and Blind Tiger by night. It's a kiss in the dark, it is.
Blind Tiger Tap Room, in the back of Noir, 581 Hayes St. (415) 431-6647.
Follow Pete at @wannacyber