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. 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 like Anchor Liberty and Green Flash IPA and "big beers" (17-25 oz.) like 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.