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Friday, September 4, 2009

Party Favors: House-Show Venues Are Serving Up Some Kick-Ass Food These Days

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Frying chicken at Ghost Mansion. - MICHAEL CHOPKO
  • Michael Chopko
  • Frying chicken at Ghost Mansion.
With the currents of cultural change whipping faster than ever before (thanks to Twitter, blogs, and our correspondingly brief attention spans), San Francisco's food obsessions hop rapidly from one trend to another. Once carts and stands have fully entered the mainstream food landscape, what will come next? We're not trying to read any tea leaves, but some of the best pure eating we've done over the past month or so has been at parties -- not private dinner gatherings at all, but real parties -- the kind with kegs, music, and no lines. Due to an overindulgence in every instance, we barely remember eating the nice things we were told we ate, but thankfully, we had the foresight to scribble coherent, if somewhat illegible, notes that confirmed our suspicions.

From a fried chicken hootenanny blowout on the back patio of Ghost Mansion, the DIY house-show venue at the foot of Potrero Hill, to miniature sweetbread po' boys, fried okra, and spicy greens at a pitch-black yard dance party on 23rd Street close to Bryant, August presented the stomach with unanticipated delights. Bi-Rite butcher and 18 Reasons instructor Morgan Maki was the common ingredient at both affairs. The second party was his own; the first was a birthday celebration for a long-time Ghost Mansion resident.

Maki is no stranger to the big pink house on Utah near 25th Street. For over a year now, Maki (frequently assisted by his brother Spencer and sister Elizabeth) has curated the food element of Ghost Mansion's ongoing acoustic series. Local winners like Okay, Or, the Whale, Birds and Batteries, Two Sheds, Last of the Blacksmiths, and Tartufi have set up in the house's living room. Before, between, and after the bands, Maki cooks -- pasta with pork belly, paper cones filled with vegetable tempura, heaps of onion rings, bacon-laced potato salad -- and attendees eat -- and drink. The city sees plenty of house shows with decent food -- a bowl of chili here, a tray of garlic bread there -- but Ghost Mansion has upped the ante -- to the point where the food, appropriately informal and fun, is as much of a draw as the bands. Stay tuned for the house's fall show schedule.

Ghost Mansion maintains a Web site, but you're more likely to find out about shows via a wrinkled flyer tacked on a pole outside of Pop's or the proverbial grapevine -- meaning, here.

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