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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Have a Beautiful Happy Hour at 398 Brasserie

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2015 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge The Showgirl - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • The Showgirl

I spent a fair amount of time ranting about the depressing ubiquity of the white-subway-tiles-and-Edison-bulbs aesthetic that makes two out of every three new places look like they’re violating the formula retail ban’s clause against uniformity of design. So let us now lavishly praise a beautiful bar that serves beautiful cocktails and beautiful bites: 398 Brasserie, at 398 Geary.

click to enlarge Mexican tile - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Mexican tile

Let’s start off with the décor. The bar is zinc. The wallpaper behind the rows of stemware is Art Nouveau. The highly distressed pillars powerclash with the stunning, tubular, almost church-like chandeliers. The Mexican tile near the entrance, a lucky discovery during the renovation, is a tessellation of happiness itself. And the San Francisco-themed quotations on the wall aren’t tired Mark Twain clichés but deep cuts from days of yore. The only pain is that, as with nearly every other bar inside a hotel, the hunt for the bathroom can take a while. (It’s upstairs.)

click to enlarge Bar snacks (clockwise from left): crispy pork belly, lamb meatballs, marinated olives, chorizo shrimp, and dill gravlax. - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Bar snacks (clockwise from left): crispy pork belly, lamb meatballs, marinated olives, chorizo shrimp, and dill gravlax.

With respect to the stuff that people actually go to bars for, the cocktails we tried were quite nice, particularly the Peter Rabbit (mezcal, yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice, agave, arugula, jalapeño, and salt). If you’re feeling snacky, don’t skimp out on the dill gravlax ($8), a beautiful pile of fish, crème fraiche, cucumber, onion, and quail eggs. If you can never get enough pork belly, this one is crisped and salted and served with mustard seeds, like a vegan roe, for some extra bite.

click to enlarge Powerclashing! - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Powerclashing!

The ease of befriending a bartender is always a great reason to hit places just after they’ve opened. After a round of handshakes, we also got a taste of a “strawberry shrub,” a house-made tincture formed out of vinegar, berries, and sugar that’s practically radioactive with pizzazz.

Happy hour’s from four to seven. Make it fancy.

398 Brasserie, 398 Geary, 415-654-5061

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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