Ego Ink Once more our town is starting trends, making headlines, and maintaining its status as the city that knows chow (and drinks). The January issue of InStyle magazine, which lists 50 ways to rev up for 2001, names the new Hot Drink as Tang 2001: A Space Odyssey, created by Andre Chapital of Restaurant LuLu. The bright-orange libation is a lean concoction of Absolut Mandrin, simple syrup, and orange juice. Meanwhile, Harry wonders whether the idea for the whimsical categories in Saveur magazine's Top 100 came from a certain free local paper's Best of S.F. series. Regardless, the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market at the Embarcadero won "Best Use of a Parking Lot," dubious as that honor may sound, while the S.F. choice for "Most Entertaining Seats in Any Restaurant" (aka coolest bar seat from which to see it all) went to Polk Street's petit Swan Oyster Depot. Much as Harry loves it when our fair city gets its props, one has to wonder why it took the supposedly savvy Saveur so long to find our little secrets.
Quelle Fromage "Smile and say American Cheese" wrote Laura Werlin to Harry in her new book The New American Cheese, as she signed copies in St. Helena's Tra Vigne a couple of weeks ago. (Werlin was also there to lead a discussion on artisan cheese making and California wine pairing.) The book, which focuses on American cheese makers and cheese recipes, is timely. Restaurants everywhere -- including many in S.F. -- have jumped onto the cheese-course bandwagon. Local eateries such as Bacar, Gary Danko, Zuni, Fifth Floor, Absinthe, and Cypress Club all offer extensive cheese lists. Fancy specialty cheeses are all well and good, but when it comes to burgers Harry still likes his plain old American, thank you very much.
Bar Banter Not all is blissful at insta-hip Bliss bar in Noe Valley. Manager Sam Burkett and owners Jim Kopp and John Ferguson did not see eye to eye on running the business, so Burkett got the boot and took off to Cuba -- perhaps to find the best mojito. Not too far from Bliss comes a new contender, Laszlo, at 2526 Mission. Jon Varnedoe and Michael Hecht have unleashed the cocktail venue next door to their hugely successful restaurant, Foreign Cinema. The bar's name comes from the alias of Jean-Paul Belmondo's character in Godard's 1959 classic, Breathless -- a word that could itself describe the gyrating souls following the DJ's nightly spin. Laszlo's wraparound balcony is great for people watching, while the 15-foot-tall mirrored panels are equally appealing to those who enjoy eyeing themselves -- a common sight in the Mission these days.