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Side Dish 

Ouch!, Rat and Raven, The Dirty Boulevard, Who Cut the ...?, Star-ing

Wednesday, Nov 3 1999
OK, this is the last you'll hear from me for a while on the hot new JohnFrank. Went in for a Pearl martini the other night and ended up with a spanking. Nine dollars for a martini? Ouch! The only other place I've paid such ridiculous prices is the Black Cat. There is a not-so-new trend of restaurant bars charging sales tax on their drinks, though they used to factor in the toll and pass on the savings. Those days are gone, and I can deal with that. But please -- a fuckin' $9 martini?

Rat and Raven
Halloween night was the last hurrah for Noe Valley's Rat and Raven. The new owner, who also runs Lucky 13 on Market, is going to gut, remodel, and rename the beer lover's haven before starting afresh with an entirely new crew. I have a lot of fond memories -- being served by celeb bartenders like Camper Van's Jonathan Segel and Storm, watching guys gingerly making their way to the loo across the path of a vicious dart game, and, most of all, sharing great brew with my friends in the terraced garden while the little fountain gurgled. The Rat is dead! Long live the Rat!

The Dirty Boulevard
I revisited Foreign Cinema -- and it was great. Our server, Christopher, was on top of everything, and the entire staff seemed to be dancing though the room. The food has grown even better despite the crowds, but I do pity the poor cold people sitting outside. Heaters be damned: It definitely seemed like a have and have-not situation.

Meanwhile, farther down the dirty boulevard, I popped into Blue Plate to see what was cookin'. The room is great, with a cobbled-together kitchen, funky table settings, and an old record player spinning on the bar. When it came to the grubbing, though, I was more than a bit disappointed. The apps were oversalted, the pasta I got differed considerably from the pasta that was advertised on the menu, and the entree and its platemates tasted overly of smoke. But I am glad we stayed for the pie.

Who Cut the ...?
The shock Pac Heights residents displayed at the loss of their beloved California Creamery quickly turned into adoration as the new tenants unveiled Tomales Bay Foods. An offshoot of Cowgirl Creamery up in Marin, the minimalist space is a church of cheddar and a heaven for havarti, whose wafting scents usher in passers-by like an altar boy swinging incense. The handpicked selection of local and imported cheese is a bit pricey -- but then, so is the neighborhood.

Echo & the Bunnymen showed up at Tonic with their '80s haircuts. They befriended the bartender and even got in a load of laundry before their show at the Maritime. And Kathy and Regis both ate at Farallon, separately, on different nights -- though I'm sure they're really close off-camera.

Know something Harry doesn't? E-mail and sweep the dirt out from under the rug.

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Harry Coverte

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