Bar#39 – Gabin

9/26/06

we were having drinks at poleng when we noticed this place called Gabin. why not try it out? so we walk in and the place is dead. like completely dead. there isn’t a single person in the bar except for the bartender behind the counter. there’s no music playing. just silence in a long empty building. i asked if they were open, and the bartender said yes, so we decided to get drinks although it felt really odd being there. as we played some pool, we realized that this place was a karaoke bar with several small rooms in the back. strangely enough though, we really only heard karaoke once in a long while. plus, each room was staffed with a woman who would only come out of the room very rarely to get soem drinks and then go back inside. veeeeerrrry suspicious. while we played pool, the bartender just stared at us the whole time.

i read online later that this place is a brothel. somehow that just isn’t a surprise…

Gabin is at 1775 Fulton in San Francisco

Bar #38 – Poleng

9/26/06

this bar was really cool. the decor was nice and they had two large video screens showing some really cool travel photos that made me all nostalgic about traveling in india. their signature drinks were a bit pricey but actually tasted super good. most of them are cocktails made w/ tea, various fruits, and other stuff. the one i got had a bunch of raspberry pulp and was bomb!

Poleng is at 1751 Fulton Street in San Francisco

Bar#37 – Tsunami Sushi and Sake Bar

9/26/06

Hoping to try something new, we decided to check out a sake bar. this place was kind of more a restaurant than a bar, but whatever, i dont know if it’s even possible to find a sake bar that’s not a restaurant as well. the place had sleek decor and a ton of different sakes to choose from. i dont know pretty much anything about sake, but i know i’ve liked unfiltered sake before, so that’s what i got. it was pretty good, but after tax+ tip came out to almost 20$ just for a tiny little slender glass. Tom got a flight of different sakes to try. all of them were actually really good, and it was cool to be able to try a variety of different types. anyways, i guess there’s a reason why sake bars are always restaurants too… the sake was nice, but definitley not something you can just hang out and drink on it’s own. after our first round, we took off.

Tsunami Suhi and Sake Bar is at 1306 Fulton Street in San Francisco

Bar#35 – Nite Cap

the first time i came here, i thought to myself that this place must only be for true alcoholics, or at the very least, aspiring alcoholics. a bunch of old drunks sat at the bar, the bartender was surly, and there was a couple who were literally dry humping and rolling on the floor in front of the jukebox. yes! this is what hanging out in the ‘loin is all about! the second time i came here, it was a bit more subdued and had less of a divey feel. oh well, it’s still a nice place to kick it, and they have pabst for only 2$ ALL DAY. plus, the bartender made a damn good bloody mary, which is a tough thing to find (outside of zeitgeist).

the Nite Cap is at 699 Ofarrell Street in San Francisco

Bar#36 – Bourbon and Branch

As soon as I heard about this place, I knew I had to check it out…. a secret 1920s speakeasy themed bar. The place was hidden behind a nondescript door in the loin, and had no address listed anywhere. The only way to go, was to make a reservation in advance, and then they give you the address. The whole concept just seemed really cool to me. Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of people feel that the whole thing is just really gimmicky, and I can definitely see that, but it’s still a cool gimmick nevertheless.

Trying to make my online reservations proved to not be too easy though. First, everything was booked up till midnight. Then, once I made a reservation, the website wouldn’t let me modify it. Then, the website went back and forth a few times between saying they had availability and that they didn’t. There are definitely a few glitches in the system.

That Saturday, at midnight, we rang the buzzer and were let in to Bourbon and Branch. The place was awesome. They really had the 1920’s theme down, with the nice decor, dim lighting, and old music playing. We were seated at a booth, and spent some time deciding what to get from the huge list of cocktails that they had on their fancy drink lists. There were so many different kinds of alcohols on here that we hadn’t ever even heard of. Also, this place makes all of their fruit juice from scratch and the mixers don’t run off a fountain. As promised, the drinks here were incredible. Almost everything we tried was delicious and made absolutely perfectly. The drinks were pricey, about 10-12$ a pop, but totally worth every penny. Our table ordered a bunch of different drinks, so each of us got to try a wide variety of them.

Although the drinks were great, the service wasn’t. First off, service was super slow and our waitress only came around a couple times in the two hours that we were there. We had the foresight to order a bunch of extra drinks w/ each order, but our friends at the next table only got 2 drinks each, which is pretty weak. Also, when the bar ran out of strawberries for one of the drinks, my friend asked if she could just have a different kind of berry substituted. They refused. Ok, I know they take great pride in their drinks and are really anal about everything being perfect, but still, I think that it’s pretty rude to flat out deny a customer’s request.

So overall, I can see why this place has been getting some mixed reviews. It’s a really cool concept, great decor, and incredible drinks… but poor service and they definitely need to hire a few more waitresses and/or bartenders. Luckily, they’ve only been open a couple weeks… I’ll bet a lot of these kinks will soon be worked out and this place will fully live up to its potential. I would definitely love to come here again.

Bourbon and Branch is at 501 Jones St in San Francisco

Bar#34 – Double Dutch

this bar was pretty cool but nothing special. the theme is 80’s hip hop and they did have some really cool sold-school photos on the walls of kids break dancing. but that’s pretty much as far as it went. they had some old nikes hanging from the bar, a simon game, some boomboxes, but other than that, the place was practically the same as it was when it was Cama. plus, the drinks were pretty expensive. i dont think i’d mind going again, but i doubt i’d make any special effort to go… especially since the mission has so many other better bars nearby.

Double Dutch is at 3192 16th St in San Francisco

Bar#33 – Bow Bow Coctail Lounge

everyone’s definition of a dive bar is different. i’ve been amazed in the past at the kind of places that some people consider to be dives. well, when it comes to the Bow Bow, i’m sure everyone could come to an agreement that it’s one of the diviest places around. the place is dirty and hazy from all the smoking going on inside it. peanut shells are scattered over the floor from the free peanuts served on the bar (watch out for the funky boiled ones, yuck!). at the far side of the room, people are screaming karaoke at the top of their lungs. man, even 5 drinks later, that karaoke still sounded horrific.

the patrons here we serious drunks. there was the drunk woman at the bar who stood up of her stool and then just crumpled onto the floor… she had to be helped up by the bartender, and then just sat their passed out till someone came in the bar, and carried her out. two wasted guys at the bar sat there and heckled everyone who passed by at the top of their lungs until they were threatened to be killed by a passerby. there was the vagrant who came in to demand money from the bartender. and of course, there were two guys who were obssesed with trying to get everyone to do karaoke and they called tom “cupcake”.

so, yeah, this place was quite an experience. we all loved it and definitely want to go back. never a dull moment in that place. the bartender “Candy” was super friendly and kept pushing more and more beers on us. then, when tom asked for a free one, she just said “sure” and gave him a free beer. free beer?! yes, that’s right.. free beer… truly amazing.

Bow Bow Coctail Lounge is at1155 Grant Avenue in San Francisco

Bar#32 – Tosca Cafe

Ok, this place just confuses me. i walk in and everyone at the bar is wearing fancy suits and probably trading stock tips. definitely not our kind of crowd. but then, as we push our way through to the back, the rest of the place looks like some kind of diner or something. hrm, that’s odd. one of my friends got the signature hot chocolate w/ brandy drink… ugh!! just smelling it made me feel ill.

Tosca Cafe is at 242 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco

Bar#31 – the Tonga Room

from everything that i had read about this place and how cheesy it was, i somehow expected it to be really run down. i pictured it to be like a old battered reno casino, with grumpy frumpy old waitresses, a falling apart stage, and dirty floors. but i forgot to take into account that it’s in the Fairmont. so, we walk inside (all 20 of us) and realize that this place is actually a bit fancy, and we’re a bit under-dressed. hrm. this place is definitely kind of kitchy, but kitchy in an extravagant kind of way. it turns out that we have to pay if we want to sit at a table, so we just opt to drink at the bar. or at least try to drink at the bar. after 30 minutes of waiting, we still havent been able to order. finally, we give up… it just isn’t worth it. yeah, yeah, we never got to see the band float out or the fake rainstorms, but i somehow think that i’ll get over missing that stuff.

The Tonga Room is at 950 Mason Street in San Francisco

Bar#30 – The Cinch

the big foot lounge was full as usual, so we ended up trying out the random bar that we found across the street. it wasn’t till all of us were inside and waiting for our drinks that we realized that it was a gay bar. oh well, no big deal right? so we get our beverages and take a look around while we drink them. it was only then that we noticed the painting. there’s a painting up on the wall of… a lion having sex with a man. yes, you heard that right… there is a painting of a man laying down w/ a lion mounting him doggystyle (lionstyle?). now, anything that two men (or lions) do together in the privacy of their own home is fine by me, but i gotta say that a painting featuring cross-species intercourse is pretty bizarre.

The Cinch is at 1723 Polk Street in San Francisco