San Francisco: Holding Up the Bar at Trick Dog
I made a short list of places I had to visit on my last trip to San Francisco and Trick Dog was number one on my list. It’s owned by the Bon Vivants; Josh Harris and Scott Baird along with other partners. I’m very fond of the Bon Vivants endeavors from their magnificent parties at cocktail weeks to their pop-up bar, the Rio Grand. Located in the Mission, Trick Dog has a bar downstairs and a dining room upstairs though they serve food at the bar as well.
When they opened, they immediately became famous for their Pantone cocktail menu. Each drink was named after colors. Sadly, I never got to see that menu in person. I did get to hold the super cool records album menu. Each drink is printed on labels on records. I had a great time looking over each record. I don’t know the last time I had touched vinyl! Trick Dog just changed the menu to a Zodiac theme. I hope to see that menu soon.
For my first drink, I tried Freeze Frame. Per usual, I started out strong with whiskey. The old fashioned style drink featured bourbon and a cardamon cordial. It screamed fall to me with hints of apple and walnut.
Freeze Frame – Old Grand Dad bourbon, apple, walnut, cardamon cordial
We didn’t get the kale salad the first night I was at Trick Dog but we kept thinking about it and I went back for it 2 days later. I needed that big ol’ pile of greens after a few days of intense eating.
I loved all the details of the bar. From the sliding booze racks to the matching bitters bottles.
We also got a Scotch egg to snack on. I was really excited to see the runny yolk. But what made this extraordinary was the bit of salmon roe off to the side. It was a beautiful composed dish that elevated this “simple bar food.”
A friend got the Evil Woman after we told him about the watermelon radish garnish. It’s pretty much the biggest slice of watermelon radish I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t have put together an ancho chile liqueur with an orange liqueur but that’s what they did at Trick Dog. Combined with Black Grouse, the drink is a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet but not girly. It’s a drink you’ll want when the nights are cold.
Talk about going beyond expectations. Trick Dog has thrice-cooked fries. You know how you love double-fried fries because they’re so crispy? Try to do it another time and you got these fries.
On another night I asked for a cocktail with Cynar. I was given the Bitter Giuseppe, a drink from a Chicago bartender, Stephen Cole (formerly The Violet Hour, now at Barrelhouse Flat).
Bitter Giuseppe – Cynar, sweet vermouth, salt
I can see why people love the food at Trick Dog. Even the beer cheese was wonderful. It reminded me of pimento though probably less oily. And the bread was perfect.
I didn’t even ask what drink goes in the pineapple glasses. I just knew I had to have it. It turned out to be a tequila drink. I was expecting rum and thinking tiki so my mind was blown a bit when I got a good sip of tequila. I really enjoyed the unexpected combination of bay laurel and coconut. It worked out really well. I hope they kept these pineapple glasses for another drink on the new menu.
Mr. Big Stuff – Calle 23 reposado tequila, Gran Classico, coconut, bay laurel, lime
The eponymous Trick Dog is a burger. Someone told me it was better than Father’s Office. I wouldn’t go that far but it’s pretty damn good.
I did get a preview of a cocktail on the new Zodiac menu. When I asked for a low-proof amaro cocktail, I was given the Wolf Moon. It’s basically Fernet-Branca and Cocchi Americano, stirred. Bam! Welcome to San Francisco where we toast to everything with Fernet.
© The Minty 2014