Monday, June 1, 2009

A Very Good Place for Beer and Burgers in the Hashbury (Haight-Ashbury), San Francisco

In the past, Mrs. Bear and Pook and I have had lunch at the then-Magnolia Pub, which is now known as Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery. Here is an abridged look at the current-day Magnolia G&B as detailed by Tara Duggan of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery:: There is something quintessentially San Francisco about this Haight-Ashbury restaurant and brew pub. The building has enough history to give the place a weathered feel, even if the distressed walls and ceilings are painted on. More important than the look, it has the weight and solidarity of a longtime hangout.

More than a century old, the building still shows signs of its former life as an apothecary shop with drawers behind the bar used to hold cutlery. More recently, it was simply called Magnolia Pub, but a year ago the owners elongated the name when launching a more ambitious approach to the food. The result is a flexible menu that meshes well with impromptu visits - there are no reservations - and the extensive list of house beers.

The vibe: High, dark wood booths in the center of the room create an English pub feel, and windows along both the Haight and Masonic bring the street scene inside. A large bar area has lots of room to stand up or sit and eat.

The crowd: Fashionably unkempt in a way that only San Franciscans can be. The ironically mustachioed staff channels NASCAR fans from faraway lands.

Best seats: Head to the communal bar table facing Masonic Street, or take a seat at one of the window tables.

Killer app: There are a lot of grazzing opportunities (such as) small plates of fried chickpeas ($5). The plate of house pickles ($5) includes seasonal tidbits such as pickled ramps, the garlicky shoots that are only around in spring.

Signature drink: House beers are made in a downstairs brewery, with the likes of a hoppy amber-colored Prescription Pale ($6) and the 9-ounce Kalifornia Kolsch ($3), inspired by the refreshing brew of Cologne, Germany and served in typical slender glasses.

Also on tap: Some of the draft beers are also available as cask ales. These are kept downstairs in a 56-degree cellar in traditional English firkins (small barrels) for three weeks and served fresh.

Bonus: All day on Tuesdays, house beers are $3, and Thursday is fried chicken night, from 5 p.m. until it sells out.

Vitals: 1398 Haight St. (at Masonic), S.F. (415) 864-7468. Noon-midnight Mon.-Thurs., until 1 a.m.; 10 a.m. - 1 a.m. Sat., 10 a.m. - midnight Sun.

Note: A look at the Yelp! reviews indicates that while all the former customers of Magnolia Pub are not thrilled with the transition to Magnolia G&B, the burgers are still being served and are still highly rated, with or without cheese!

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